Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2010


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Clinical Psychology


McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Bruce Fink

Committee Member

Suzanne Barnard

Committee Member

Colleen Carney

Committee Member

Dan Collins


addiction, case studies, drive, Lacan, psychoanalysis, repetition compulsion


This dissertation examines the clinical utility of applying Lacanian psychoanalytic interventions to the treatment of addictions. By combining theoretical exegesis with clinical case studies of psychotherapy with patients who struggled with addictions, this project seeks to: 1) contribute to the improvement of the clinical treatment of addictions; and 2) contribute to the advancement of Lacanian clinical scholarship in the U.S. Although the work of French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan is well-known in Europe and South America, Lacanian clinical scholarship in the U.S. is disappointingly sparse. As a result, most American clinicians are not aware of the clinical usefulness of Lacanian theory. This dissertation focuses on how addictions relate to the psychoanalytic concept of the drive, which is closely linked to the repetition compulsion and what Lacan refers to as jouissance--a kind of painful enjoyment beyond the pleasure principle. Since addictions involve drive-related circuits of repetition and Lacanian psychoanalysis aims to facilitate transformations on the level of the drive, this dissertation proposes that Lacanian interventions may be particularly relevant to clinical work with addictions, which are notoriously difficult to treat. This project explores how addictions are highly particular. That is, they manifest themselves and function in very different ways depending on where the individual is situated within the Lacanian diagnostic categories--psychosis, perversion, hysteria, or obsessional neurosis--as well as how the individual's experience of the drive is shaped by the particularity of his or her history and events of development. This dissertation demonstrates how to go beyond surface behavior and transform addictions on the level of the drive. While the techniques and interventions discussed within this project can be used within a wide range of clinical approaches, this project is the first of its kind, in that a Lacanian psychoanalytic approach to the clinical treatment of addictions has not yet been written.