Skip to content
February 28, 2013 / compassioninpolitics

Criticism of Lacanian Theory of Psychoanalysis–Answering the Critique of Psychoanalysis in Policy Debate

Psychoanalysis exploits & creates anxiety & confusion the listener
a] fear links to the K
b] power-over intellectual bullying & manipulation
c] the alternative gets no where–it results in confusion paralysis & fear paralysis. Webster in 2013

Richard Webster, prolific author & cultural and social commentator,
The cult of Lacan Freud, Lacan and the mirror stage

http://www.richardwe…ltoflacan.html, downloaded: 2/24/13)

It is also remarkable that a number of influential commentators have discussed Lacan’s style without even noting that the most distinctive feature of what has frequently been presented as a rhetoric of liberation is nothing other than its authoritarianism. Perhaps because of the depth of his own insecurity and his own anxiety about his intellectual worth, Lacan wields learning like a scourge, as though in an attempt to dominate those he seeks to enlighten. To readers nervous about their own powers of intellect his habit of referring to arcane, idiosyncratic or personal theories as though they were familiar orthodoxies will almost certainly intensify feelings of intellectual insecurity. Lacan’s prose is thus liable to conquer its reader by its sheer power to overawe and intimidate. The intimidatory power of his formulations is heightened by the sheer obscurity of his prose. His writings convey the impression of an unremitting miserliness with meaning, as though any meaning conveyed to the reader would be a precious substance lost to the writer.

There can be little doubt that the fear of not being at a sufficiently high intellectual level, of having missed something which ‘everyone important sees to feel is so crucial’ has played a very large role in Lacan’s success. Lacan himself – apparently quite deliberately – played upon this fear. When he appeared in a two-part television special in France in 1974, he began the programme by announcing that ‘most of his audience were surely idiots, and that he was surely in error in trying to make them understand.’ Such intellectual bullying is characteristic of Lacan’s style. In his seminars, highly intelligent people were persuaded to listen attentively to propositions which were for the most part obscure, incomprehensible and entirely without explanatory value. Some of the intellectually more confident members of Lacan’s audience objected to just this fact. Paul Ricoeur, for example, who had himself made a deep study of Freud, attended Lacan’s course during the 1960s and found himself unable to understand a word of it. Instead of remaining silent about this he recorded the fact that he found Lacan’s discourse ‘uselessly difficult and perverse in its proclivity towards suspension.’[39]

Other Criticism:

Psychoanalysis is nonsense on stilts.….h lacan&f=false

Eco-theorists & Feminists usually aren’t a fan either.

A number of problematic biases for Lacan & psychoanalysts more broadly:
1) The way in which psychoanalysis diagnoses via hyper-essentialism & hyperbole seems problematic.
2) Its also extremely skeptical & cynical approach to humans.
3) Its meant to critique ethics/morality. That seems problematic.
4) Lacan was a racist. I’m pretty sure they will just say “ad hom” or “thats another link”–but it does seem to be a valid criticism if you can link that to a rationalization of his own behavior OR your aff is based on race already.
5) The only reason to do the alternative is a link. Their warrants are a link to the argument. Or the K eats itself. You can implicate this in multiple ways. (this depends on which version of psychoanalysis they are running).
6) If the link is true…..the alternative seems pretty abusive. If this is part of the human condition–how can we magically tranform ourselves past it.

That Richard Webster article probably has more.

* Webster died a couple years ago….but I don’t know if the article has the publication date. I just used the download date, which is legitimate. If its listed in the article–feel free to add it to the thread
** Sorry about the extra-formatting…..its not my fault. Blame the forum software.


Hallward 2001
[Peter, Nip/Tuck junky, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil, Trans. Peter Hallward, New York: Verso, 2001
What distinguishes Badiou’s Philosophical ethics from Lacan’s own essentially’ anti-philosophical stance is the precise status allocated to the Real in this arrangement.15 Badiou emphasizes the topological location of the Real, the Real as ‘being, in a situation, in any given symbolic field, the point of impasse, or the point of impossibility, which precisely allows us to think the situation as a whole’.16 The Real is what seems empty or void from· the perspective of those who re-present and dominate the situation (i.e. from the perspective assumed by the ‘state of the situation’); rejected from any stable assignation of place, it is thereby that which calls into question the prevailing regime of place and placement tout court,17 Badiou’s Real is always strictly situation-specific. But from a later Lacanian perspective, the unsymbolizable Real often comes
to indicate general human finitude in its most elementary form, that is, death. As Lacan’s most forceful contemporary disciple puts it:
The whole of Lacan’s effort is precisely focused on those limitexperiences in which the subject finds himself confronted with the death drive at its purest, prior to its reversal into sublimation. , ” What ‘Death’ stands for at its most radical is not merely the passing of earthly life, but the ‘night of the world’, the self-withdrawal, the absolute contradiction of subjectivity, the severing of its links with ‘reality’ ,18
A Lacanian ethics is designed to enable us to endure this severing without flinching, as the price to be paid for a ‘symbolic New Beginning, the emergence of the “New Harmony” sustained by a newly emerged Master-Signifier’.
And it is at this point, Zizek continues, that ‘Lacan parts company with Badiou’ (154). For confrontation with Lacan’s Real here amounts to an experience of the abject, inarticulable realm of the corpse as such – the ‘undead’ that is Oedipus after his mutilation, or Antigone reduced to her ‘living death’ ,19 Zizek accepts this reduction without hesitation. Since ‘modern subjectivity emerges when the subject perceives himself as “out of joint”, as excluded from the order of things, from the positive order of entities’, so ‘for that reason, the ontic equivalent of the modern subject is inherently excremental. . . , There is no subjectivity without the reduction of the subject’s positive-substantial being to a disposable “piece of shit”’ (157). From Zizek’s perspective, what thus ‘remains beyond Badiou’s reach … is this domain “beyond the Good”, in which a human being encounters the death drive as the utmost limit of human experience, and pays the price by undergoing a radical “subjective destitution”, by being reduced to an excremental remainder’ (161).
Badiou would no doubt plead guilty as charged. For the great virtue of his system, compared with Lacan’s, is surely its separation of the merely ineffable, in-significant horror of death from the generic ‘destitution’ or subtraction no doubt demanded by every subjectification. It is Badiou’s achievement to have subtracted the operation of truth from any redemption of the abject, and to have made the distinction between living and unliving, between finite and infinite, a matter of absolute indifference. The ‘Real’ emergence of ‘the undead-indestructible object, [of] Life deprived of support in the symbolic order’20 is incapable of provoking the slightest reaction either from within the domain of purely multiple being-as-being on the one hand, or from the domain of an infinite, properly immortal subjectivization on the other. From Badiou’s perspective, death can never quality as an event.

This is the equivalent to saying we should “blow off steam” – that leads to more violence
Walsh, 2008 David, President, national institute on media and the family, PhD psychology, July, Game Informer, p 32
Are you familiar with the book Killing Monsters by Gerard Jones? He makes the case that some degree of fantasy violence is actually beneficial in that it’s cathartic to kids and helps them form early ideas of conflict and morality. It’s an interesting theory but there’s no research to back it up. What scientists call the “catharsis hypothesis” has been around for a long time. The idea is that you “blow off steam.” That would make sense if our brains operated on hydraulic principles – the pressure builds up, we release the pressure, and we are relieved. Our brains don’t operate like that at all. Say you’ve changed your phone number. If I want to remember it, what do I do? I say it out loud, I say it again, and then write down. I keep firing that circuit, so when I need that number an hour later I’ve got it. The more a circuit fires, the more likely it is to fire in the future.

Psychoanalysis doesn’t solve problems, it just re-describes them
Hoeniach, 2006 (Steve, MA in Linguistics, in the Ph.D. Program in Linguistics, The Graduate Center, City University of New York, “The Myth of Psychoanalysis: Wittgenstein Contra Freud,” February 21,
My central thesis is that if, as Wittgenstein says, Freudian psychoanalysis is based in myth, its application to actual psychological problems does not, indeed cannot, resolve them. Instead, all it can do is clarify them or present them in a different light. Implicit in my argument is that this is how Wittgenstein thought of the results of psychoanalysis, much like he thought of the application of his philosophical technique to philosophical problems, especially those of metaphysics, ethics, and aesthetics. As such, Wittgenstein is also subverting a larger myth: that the insights gained in psychoanalysis lead to the scientific resolution of psychological problems. One of Wittgenstein’s remarks about psychoanalysis, made in 1938, explicitly confirms that he saw the results of psychoanalysis not as a resolution of psychological problems, but as merely a way of changing the way they are seen, thereby dissolving them through clarification: “In a way, having oneself psychoanalyzed is like eating from the tree of knowledge. Knowledge acquired sets us (new) ethical problems; but contributes nothing to their solution.”12 Although Bouveresse cites this passage, he, I believe, misses the significance of it. As Bouveresse invokes Brian McGuinness’s view that an essential feature of Wittgenstein’s attitude in life, philosophy, ethics, and aesthetics was “an extreme restraint and reserve that were utterly opposed to all forms of exhibitionism and explain his deliberate renunciation of theory in philosophy,”13 he uses the quotation in an attempt to sum up Wittgenstein’s attitude (a renunciation of theory) that stretched toward psychoanalysis. Yet, I believe, the context in which Bouveresse uses the remark leads him to belittle its import and neglect its substance: that psychoanalysis does not and cannot resolve problems but only alters the way they are seen, perhaps clarifying them in the process. The substance of the remark is more intimately connected to Wittgenstein’s position on the role of philosophy in relation to age-old metaphysical problems than to his attitude toward psychoanalysis: Philosophy, Wittgenstein believed, can alter the way metaphysical problems are seen by putting them in sharper relief, but cannot solve them. For one thing, the metaphysical problems may be unsolvable. For another, they may not be problems at all, but only appear, through the haze of language, as problems.

1. Psychoanalysis isn’t falsifiable
2. Psychoanalysis is disproved by neuroscience
3. Psychoanalysis essentializes race/gender/sex

D & G apparently weren’t a fan either.

You might also search “myth of psychoanalysis”

I would also still read some of the Robinson cards (even if shortened versions) because that forces them to read their blocks–assuming you don’t have better alternatives.

You can read the rest here–although I would make sure to bookmark and/or print this out and/or cut & paste into a 2AC K frontline/evidence file for future reference.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s