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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In the 1950s, Jacques Lacan marshaled the concepts of structural linguistics in order to assert the homology between Sigmund Freud’s primary processes of condensation and displacement and the rhetorical tropes of metaphor and metonymy in unconscious formations. His anti-mimetic theory of language, the symbolic, emphasized the power of metonymy to express the individual’s desire for being and the potential of metaphor to create the signified that would capture the unique being of the analysand. In the 1960s, Lacan abandoned his earlier belief in the creative power of the symbolic; now it had become the realm of the universal in which all are the same. In his last years, Lacan reinstated poetry and rhetoric as the key players in the process of psychoanalysis, but now it was their ability to transgress the rules of language that allowed them to aim toward the inexpressible uniqueness and dignity of the individual.

Keywords: rhetoric, psychoanalysis, Lacan, unconscious, language, metaphor, metonymy, primary processes, structural linguistics, mimesis

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