LX:41 | Linguistic Structure of the Unconscious

Now the concrete and objective data that allow the linguistic structure of the unconscious to be inferred are the external acts of the unconscious. We have already noted that each of the manifestations of the unconscious must be seen, in a formal sense, as a signifier, or more exactly, as onesignifier. We have also said that these external acts belong to diverse realities: a bodily gesture, an unexpected speech, or any other event. But among these realities in which the unconscious expresses itself, that of speech provides the best opening for us to come into contact with the structural order of the unconscious. In the same way that Freud took the dream to be the royal road to the unconscious, I would say that for Lacan, the royal road is that of speech.

Lacan recognized, then, the difference that Saussure established between speech and language: speech is the spoken language. There is first a spoken language which, for example, would be the dialect of Cali, and I expect it is quite distinct from that of the capital Bogota, even if in both regions they speak the same language. Then, most importantly, there is that particular language that is the maternal language, the language spoken by the mother. It is this language in which the unconscious manifests itself. In fact, the best definition would be, “The unconscious is structured like a language and manifests itself in the language as spoken by the mother.” (48-9)


Nasio, Juan-David. Five Lessons on the Psychoanalytic Theory of Jacques Lacan.  Trans. Pettigrew, David and François Raffoul.  State University of New York Press 1998. 


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