Englishing Jacques Lacan

Lacan in Ireland

In Ireland, over against its fate in most English-speaking countries, the work of Jacques Lacan took root in the psychiatric department of a large university hospital.  The demands of this setting lead to a focus on the aspects of his teaching relevant to the subjectivity of the mentally ill.  The weekly case-presentation of patients, which had also been crucial for Lacan, provided a forum in which this teaching could be put to the test and challenged by students and psychiatric colleagues.

If you have an interest in Lacan you know how limited is your access to an English version of the 28 seminars which were the backbone of his teaching.  The main aim of this site is to present reliable translations of some 19 of these seminars along with introductory articles and commentaries.

His final reflections on sexuation and on the non-relationship between the sexes have long left readers fascinated and perplexed.  Two remarkable commentaries now offer hard-headed practical guidance to clinicians and theoreticians alike.  Christian Fierens’ (2002) line-by-line analysis of L’etourdit and Guy le Gaufey’s (2006) study on the logical consistency and clinical applications of the formulae of sexuation are made available here in translations approved by the authors.  They offer a solid basis for the work required to clarify questions that are infinitely complex but, nevertheless, clinically crucial for our time.

A Paris-Dublin axis

In the Paris of 1970 Lacan’s ‘reconquest’ of the field of Freudian psychoanalysis was in full swing. I went there with the traditional Jesuit formation in philosophy, theology and spirituality and a less typical background in maths, clinical psychology and minor intercounty football.   The plan was to return to Fordham University to do a PhD in psychological statistics with Anne Anastasi.  An encounter with Louis Beirnaert led to Jacques Lacan’s seminars and case presentations, analysis with Christian Simatos, supervision with Claude Dumézil and a doctorate with Jean Laplanche.  A cartel with Bernard Burgoygne (UK), Russell Grigg (Australia) and WJ Richardson (USA) was later added to the mix.

The Ireland of 1974 was just awakening to contemporary psychiatry.   I went to to work as a clinical psychologist in St Vincent’s University Hospital with Professor Noel Walsh and Dr Mary Darby. Their cooperation and that of Jean Kilcullen in LSB – now DBS – College as well as the efforts of the growing cohort of Irish colleagues lead to the establishment of The School of Psychotherapy and the setting up of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalysis.  The proximity of Paris allowed for frequent study days lead in particular by psychoanalysts such as Charles Melman, Guy le Gaufey and Marcel Czermak.  Much of this is recorded in The Letter – Irish Journal for Lacanian Psychoanalysis, www.theletter.ie.

Lacan was known, if at all in Ireland, as an esoteric literary theorist.  I began to translate his clinical texts – beginning with The family – to introduce colleagues and students to the primary sources.  The seminars are revolutionary commentaries on Freud’s psychoanalytic discourse which for Lacan ‘has been the best tested in terms of bringing together the totality of the ideologies of our time’.


As you will soon discover this web-site is currently something of a building site.   The final lay-out is planned to be as follows:

A: Translations

1)       Jacques Lacan’s seminars: nineteen translated from unpublished French manuscripts.  There is no ‘original’ version of these spoken lectures but the texts I have used are more reliable than the official published versions.

2)      Some Ecrits:  ‘The family’, ‘The direction of the treatment’,’ L’étourdit’, summaries of the seminars , as well as the texts dealing with the structure of the psychoanalytic organisation.

3)      A book by Charles Melman, and final drafts of works by Christian Fierens and Guy Le Gaufey. Various  articles by C Fierens, J-P Le Brun, F Gros, C Melman, E Porge.

B: My own publications

Approximately thirty: mostly papers for psychoanalytic congresses.


The translation of the seminars and other texts owes much to the work of students and colleagues over a period of almost thirty years.   In recent years I would like to pay particular tribute to Cathriona Brownlee, Mary Cheyrou-Lagreze, Tom Dalzell, Dermot Hickey, Jonathan Hughes,Tony Hughes, Patricia McCarthy and Barry ODonnell.   In addition, I would like to thank Tony for taking the website under his wing and Lindy Meldon who transformed thousands of hours of dictaphone recordings into readable scripts.


6 January 2011