Lacan Circle Seminar: Discontinuity and the Drive

Presented by Dan Collins



Discontinuity and the Drive

A critical study

Presented by Dan Collins


The drive is a central concept in psychoanalysis, so much so that we take it for granted. We assume that we know the Freudian-Lacanian story of the drive: biological needs are represented in unconscious and acted upon, repressed, or submitted to various other vicissitudes. As Lacanians, we say that our biological needs “take a detour” through language, through the signifying system.


Once we start to examine this simple account, though, it falls apart.


Where the naive understanding of the drive suggests a continuity—albeit with a change of register—between body and mind, a careful reading of Freud and Lacan reveals nothing but discontinuity. In this seminar, we read the groundbreaking psychoanalytic texts on the drive, and we discover a range of discontinuities, between body and mind, between need and demand, between demand and desire, between drive and jouissance. We consider why Freud’s text is so susceptible to the naive reading, and why Lacan’s corrections to Freud’s drive theory are only partial. In the end we’ll find an alternate reading of Freud’s texts and another conception of the drive than the one we know so well.


Topics covered:
Continuity and the Drive

Debunking ‘Drives and Their Vicissitudes’
Life and Death
The Dialectic of Demand
Demand and Fantasy
Alienation, Separation, and the Production of the Lost Object
The Drive and Jouissance


We read from:
Drives and Their Vicissitudes, Freud
The Signification of the Phallus, Lacan
Freud’s ‘Trieb’ and the Psychoanalyst’s Desire, Écrits, Lacan
Beyond the Pleasure Principle, Freud
Subversion of the Subject, Lacan, and
Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, chapters 6-9 (on the gaze) and 13-14 (on the drive), Lacan



Dan Collins, PhD, MSW, lives and works in New York.
He has extensively written, lectured, and published on Lacanian psychoanalysis. He has also produced many translations of Lacanian texts, both published and unpublished, including Lacan’s Seminar XXIV.


Dan is a founding member of Affiliated Psychoanalytic Workgroups, a group that promotes clinical Lacanian psychoanalysis through conferences, workshops, and events. Dan is a member of Lacan Toronto, where he serves as Education Director and holds an annual seminar. He is an international member of the Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland.


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