Founding Act (1964)

Jacques Lacan

I hereby found — as alone as I have always been in my relation to the psychoanalytic cause — the École Française de Psychanalyse, whose direction I will personally assume for the next four years, which nothing currently prohibits me from answering for.

I intend this title to represent the organism in which there is work to be accomplished—work which in the field Freud has opened restores the cutting edge of its truth; which brings the original praxis that he instituted under the name of psychoanalysis back to the duty that in our world is incumbent upon it; which, through a sustained critique, denounces the deviations and compromises that encumber its progress while degrading its use. This objective of our work is inseparable from the training to be dispensed within this movement of reconquest. That is, those that I have trained myself are admitted as fully qualified, just as anyone who can contribute to demonstrating that the experience of this training is well-grounded is invited to join.

Those who enter this School will undertake to fulfill a task that is subject to both internal and external supervision. In exchange they are assured that nothing will be spared in order that anything valuable they do gets the attention it deserves and in the appropriate place.

To carry out this work we shall adopt the principle of sustained elaboration in small groups. Each group (we have a name to designate them) will be composed of at least three people, five at most, four is the right balance. PLUS ONE responsible for the selection, the discussion and the outcome to be accorded to the work of each.

After a certain period of functioning, the elements of the group will find themselves invited to permutate into another group. The position of responsibility will not constitute a hierarchy for which service rendered might be capitalized into access to a higher grade, and no one will have to regard himself as demoted for entering into the rank of work at the base.

For the reason that every personal endeavor will place its author under conditions of critique and supervision to which all work undertaken will be submitted in the School. This in no way implies an inverted hierarchy but a circular organization whose functioning—which will be easy to program—will firm up with experience.

We will form three sections whose progress I will assure along with two collaborators who will second me in each. 

Section for pure psychoanalysis, or praxis and doctrine of psychoanalysis properly speaking, which is and is nothing but—this will be established in its time and place—training analysis. The urgent problems to be raised concerning all issues of training analysis will find a way forward here through a sustained confrontation between persons who have the experience of training and candidates in training. Its raison d’être is based on what there is no reason to conceal: namely, the need resulting from professional requirements whenever they lead the analysand in training to adopt responsibility that is analytic to any degree.

It is in the context of that problem and as a special case that entering into supervision is to be situated. This is a prelude to defining this case on criteria other than the impressions of all and the prejudices of each. For it is known that such is its only law currently, when violations of the rule implicit in the observance of its forms are rife. From the outset and in each case qualified supervision will be assured within this framework for the training analyst in our School.

The characteristics whereby I myself break with the stated standards of training practice will be proposed for study, as will the effects imputed to my teaching on the course of my analyses when it is the case that my analysands attend in the capacity of students. Included therein, if necessary, will be the only impasses to be retained from my position in such a School, namely, the impasses that the induction my teaching aims at providing would engender in its work. These studies, the point of which is to call into question the established routine, will be gathered and compared by the directorate of this Section, which will oversee the best ways to maintain the effects of their solicitation. Three sub-sections: Doctrine of pure psychoanalysis; Internal critique of its praxis as training; Supervision of analysts in training.

Finally, I posit, as a doctrinal principe, that this section, section 1, and also the section whose destination I will indicate in part 3, will not limit its recruitment to medical qualifications, pure psychoanalysis not being in itself a therapeutic technique. 

Section of applied psychoanalysis, which means of therapeutics and clinical medicine

Medical groups will be admitted to this section, whether composed of psychoanalyzed subjects or not, provided they are capable of contributing to the psychoanalytic experience; through the critique of its indications and its results; by testing the categorical terms and structures that I have introduced as maintaining the course of Freudian praxis—and this in clinical examinations, in nosographical definitions and in the very positing of therapeutic projects.

Here, again, there are three subsections: The doctrine of treatment and its variations; Casuistry; Psychiatric information and medical explorations. A directorate that will authenticate each study as being from the School, and composed in such a way as to exclude all preconceived conformism. 

3 Section for taking stock of the Freudian Field

This section will first take responsibility for reporting on and critically assessing everything that is offered by publications in this field in which they claim to be authorized.

It will undertake to bring up to date the principles from which analytic praxis must receive its status within science. A status which, however particular it has to be recognized as having, cannot be that of an ineffable experience. Finally, this section will call upon what, concerning structuralism installed in particular sciences, can throw light on the one whose function I have demonstrated in our own to inform and also to communicate our experience—and in the opposite sense, what, concerning our own subjectivation, these sciences can receive as complementary inspiration. Ultimately, a praxis of the theory is required, in the absence of which the order of affinities delineated by the sciences we call conjectural will remain at the mercy of this political drift which inflates itself by means of the illusion of universal conditioning. Thus, three more subsections:

– Ongoing commentary on the psychoanalytic movement

– Articulation with related sciences

– Ethics of psychoanalysis, which is the praxis of its theory. 

The financial resources initially comprised of the contributions by School’s members, via the subsidies it will ultimately obtain, indeed the services it will provide as a School, will be entirely reserved for its publishing efforts. In the first instance a yearbook will publish the titles and abstracts of works of the School, wherever they have been published—a yearbook in which will appear, at their request, anyone who has fulfilled a function in the School. One subscribes to the School by presenting oneself in a work group constituted in the manner described above. Admission initially will be decided by me without taking into account any positions taken by anyone in the past towards me personally, sure as I am that, concerning those who have left me, it is not I who has it in for them but they who have it in for me all the more because they are unable to return. My response to the rest will only concern what I can presume or observe on the basis of the group’s value and the place it initially intends to fulfill.

The School’s organization on the principle of rotation that I have indicated will be determined by the efforts of a committee approved by an initial general meeting to be held in a year’s time. This committee will develop it on the basis of the experience over a second year, when a second general meeting will be asked to approve it.

There is no necessity for members to implement the entirety of this plan for it to work. I don’t need a long list, just dedicated workers, such as those I already know.  

21 June 1964  

Translated by R. Grigg