While many read Lacan as a structuralist who sought to overthrow the authority of first-person conscious experience, his work also has resonances and affinities with a broadly phenomenological approach to psychoanalysis. This connection comes into focus when we bring Lacan’s concept of the imaginary stage into dialogue with Freud’s early work on hysteria. Lacan implied that the imaginary stage, while necessary for human development, nevertheless frustrates a significant dimension of being human, viz. the human being’s internally conflictual and contradictory experience that calls into question the very idea of a unified self or subject. When we read the early Freud’s work, we find that he is attempting to liberate the hysteric’s self-experience from just this kind of imaginary illusion of unified selfhood that would restrict and even denies the vicissitudes of subjective thinking, feeling, and desiring.



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