Autism and Childhood Psychosis

Specific references to autism and the psychoses of childhood in Lacan’s written works and seminars are scarce. Yet his theses on the structure of psychosis (see foreclosure; psychosis), have enlightened the clinical approach to those conditions and generated a wealth of research, theoretical developments and debate among psychoanalysts of the Lacanian orientation who work with children.


The topic is, however, of relevance for the theory and practice of all Lacanian analysts, as the psychoanalytic field is one, and interest in particular clinical or conceptual problems should not be understood as being the domain of only ‘specialized’ forms of psychoanalysis. Whether autistic, psychotic or neurotic, it is as a subject that the child (or the adult, for that matter) enters the psychoanalytic experience.


In Lacanian psychoanalysis, the child works in this experience as a subject in his/her own right and in the full sense of the term; this is so despite the fact that the psychotic or autistic subject is outside discourse (hors discours) and cannot therefore be considered to be a ‘subject of the unconscious’ constituted by the operations of alienation and separation. It is still the aim of the psychoanalytic experience that the psychotic or autistic subject establish a ‘workable’ link with discourse.

在拉康的精神分析,儿童在这个经验里,充当是主体,拥有他/她自己的权利,就那个术语的完整意义而言。这是如此,尽管这个事实: 精神错乱或是自闭症的主体,外在于辞说之外,并且因此无法被认为是一个「无意识的主体」,由异化与分离的各种运作所组成。这依旧是精神分析经验的目标,精神错乱或是自闭症的主体应该建立一个跟辞说「可运作的」的关联。

Within Lacan’s works, the main references that have inspired the psychoanalysts who work with psychotic and autistic children (leaving aside for the moment the distinction between the two terms) are:
• The doctoral thesis on paranoia (1932).
• The article on the family published in the Encyclopédie française (1938).
• The commentaries on the cases of Dick (treated by Melanie Klein; Klein 1930) and Robert (treated by Rosine Lefort; Lefort and Lefort 1988). Both are part of the 1953-54 seminar, or Seminar I.

1、 对于偏执狂的博士论文 (1932)
2、 论家庭的文章,发表于法国百科全书(1938)
3、 有关个案的评论,对于笛克(梅兰妮、克莱恩所治疗:克莱恩,1930年)及罗伯特(由罗欣尼所治疗:雷弗特1988年)。两个个案都是1953-54的研讨班的部分,或是第一研讨班。


• The seminar on the psychoses of 1955-56.
• The now ‘classical’ 1959 paper on the treatment of psychosis included in the English-language selection of the Écrits (1977).
• The intervention at the conference on childhood psychosis organized by Maud Mannoni (1968).
• The note on the child addressed to Jenny Aubry (1969).
• The revision of the concept of the Name-of-the-Father and the function of the symptom developed in the seminars of 1974-75 (R.S.I.) and 1975-76 (Le Sinthome).
• The 1975 Geneva lecture on the symptom.

4、1955-1956 年的精神错乱的研讨班。
9、 1975年,在日内瓦演讲病正。

The first question that faces the practitioners in the field, both of practical and conceptual significance, is that of diagnosis which, from a Lacanian perspective is necessarily structural.
In his seminar on the psychoses, Lacan speaks of ‘the structure of the psychotic phenomenon’: the observable phenomena are moments of the structure, rather than epiphenomena.
From a clinical perspective, ‘observable’ phenomena are not perceived unless the clinician’s conceptual mapping is prepared to admit them; and this requires structural hypotheses.




In the Lacanian orientation, childhood and adult psychoses are identical from the viewpoint of their structure; this position contrasts with the view adopted by the authors of current psychiatric classifications. In making of psychosis a developmental disorder, what the psychiatric orientation represented by the D5M-IV causes is, in the first place, to consider the psychotic phenomenon as a deficit, rather than a production; and secondly, to define the deficits of the patient in terms of developmental norms external to the structure of the subject as such.


Diagnosis is thus established on the basis of what the subject has not achieved developmentally and his/her deviation from norms which combine medical and educational criteria, adaptation to conventional social demands being the central point of reference. This is a questionable criterion for clinical phenomenology, since the emphasis is placed on what is absent and not on what is phenomenologically observable, which is a production.


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