The Freudian Thing or the Meaning of the Return to Freud in Psychoanalysis : (Vienna) 7th November 1955 : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on November 7, 1955

Lecture given Neuro-psychiatric Clinic, Vienna on 7th November 1955.

Pubished in Évolution Psychiatrique XXI, I (1956): p225-52

An expanded version is published in Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan. See here for more details.

Alan Sheridan’s translation available at  /lacan


See, available bilingual here

See below for further details & references & notes & commentaries.


Related Text

Preparatory notes, in German, for the conference on ‘The Freudian Thing’ : Jacques Lacan

On is the following background :

Dany Nobus  “Although the notes exist in German, there is no evidence that Lacan delivered his speech in German. Lacan could read German fluently, yet his spoken German would not have been good enough, or he would have required a fully written text in German, which doesn’t exist.
What we have here is in all likelihood a German hand‐out Lacan prepared for his German‐speaking audience, which he would have passed on before the actual lecture.

The text itself was in all likelihood translated from Lacan’s (dictated?) French by Wladimir Granoff, whose second language was German (after his native Russian).”

“Notes in German prepared for the lecture on The Freudian Thing” was translated from German by Geneviève Morel and Franz Kaltenbeck, and published in Ornicar? No 42, pages 7‐11. Apparently there are four versions of La Chose freudienne: the preparatory notes, the actual lecture in Vienna, the text that was published in L’Évolution psychiatrique; XXI, fasicule 1 (Jan‐Mar 1956): pp. 225‐ 52, and the seventeenth essay in the Écrits published in 1966, which is an expanded version of the lecture given at the Vienna Neuropsychiatric Clinic on November 7, 1955.  Richard G. Klein

Published at, available in French (translated by Geneviève Morel and Franz Kaltenbeck) & English (translated by Anthony Chadwick), here


Published in French:

Écrits: Jacques Lacan : Paris, Les Éditions du Seuil: 1966

Many of these texts are published, in French, at École Psychanalyse, Pas Tout Lacan

Published in English:

Écrits, a selection: London, Tavistock: translated Alan Sheridan : 1977

Further information : Translator’s note, Bibliography Note : 1977 : Alan Sheridan & Classified index of the major concepts, Commentary on the graphs : 1966 : Jacques-Alain Miller : from ‘Écrits: a selection’ or here

Available p114 to 145 at /lacan

Now available in bilingual edition from, See  here

Écrits, Jacques Lacan, The first complete edition in English : translated by Bruce Fink : W.W. Norton & Co : 2002 : p 334 to 363

Subtitles given in ‘The Freudian thing, or the meaning of the return to Freud in Psychoanalysis’

Situation in Time and Place of this Exercise

The Adversary

The Thing Speaks of Itself


The Thing’s Order

Resistance to the Resisters


The Other’s Discourse

Imaginary Passion

Analytic Action

The Locus of Speech

Symbolic Debt

The Training of Analysts to Come


A Reader’s Guide to Écrits : 1982 : by John P. Muller & William J. Richardson Information : A Reader’s Guide to Écrits: 1982: John P. Muller and William J. Richardson or here : See Chapter 4 : The Freudian Thing) or the Meaning of the Return to Freud in Psychoanalysis …. p123 : Available at   /lacan

Reference by Jacques Lacan to this text

Jacques Lacan refers to ‘primal thing’ in Seminar IV : 16th January 1957.

It is from the present point where we are in the analysis that the subject formulates forthe past, organises a primal dramatic situation, in such a way that is nonetheless inscribed in their present speech, in their present powers of symbolisation, and we locate, through the progress of analysis, something like the primal thing.

See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here

This text foreshadows many of his arguments given on 16th January 1957.


p116 : Société Française de Psychanalyse : See Some Lacanian History Conference Report, SIR : Inaugural meeting of SFP, Paris : 8th July 1953 : Jacques Lacan or here

p117 & 142 : The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud : Availability here

p117 :From the History of an infantile neurosis (The ‘Wolf Man’): 1914 : Sigmund Freud : SE XVII : p3 : Published and available here

p117 : Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920g : Sigmund Freud : : SE XVIII  p1-64 : Published at here 

p127-128 Happiness : This is the aim of current UK Government initiatives. Some of the posts on this :

Happiness is too close to hedonism : George Vaillent : Comment on ‘Today programme’ by Julia Evans on November 14, 2012

The conflict comes when we separate ethics and economic progress and when we equate the latter with happiness: Desmond Tutu and Bettina Gronblom by Julia Evans on April 4, 2012

Registration and Regulation – an attempt at an update and the Government’s Happiness/Wellbeing Factories reappear by Julia Evans on May 19, 2011

Wellbeing & Happiness as used by the UK Government by Julia Evans on May 7, 2007

Ordinary Psychosis and Addiction in the Postmodern Era : 1st March 2016 : Thomas Svolos

Quote: ….. is one of extreme pragmatism based on a cost-benefit analysis that apparently excludes moral accounting : The Guardian by Julia Evans on February 14, 2015

Seminar VII : 30th March 1960 : p193 : Comments on εὐδαιμονία : Reading group of 1st February 2014 by Nicholas Stylianou on February 1, 2014

Politics, ethics, regulation and the talking therapies : current positions emerging from Parliamentary debate by Julia Evans on November 20, 2013

‘Will you walk into my parlour?’ said the spider to the fly: An invitation from the Government-guaranteed supplier of risk-free treatments. by Julia Evans on December 1, 2012

Notes from Seminar VII : 25th November 1959 : p27 to 34 (Diagram p34 corrected) : Read on 15th November 2012 by Julia Evans on November 15, 2012

P128 & 136 : Wo Es war, soll Ich werden’ : New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis : Sigmund Freud : 1932 (Published 1933) : Lecture XXXI: Dissection of the personality: 1932 : Last paragraph

Other references to this phrase:

Seminar XI : 29th January 1964 : p33 of Alan Sheridan’s translation & Seminar XI : 5th February 1964 : p44 of Alan Sheridan’s translation : Seminar XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts: 1963-1964 : beginning 15th January 1964 : Jacques Lacan or here both refer to ‘Wo Es war, soll Ich werden’ in the last paragraph of the Freud text.

Notes from p1 – 7 of Seminar VII from the 21-09-12 Reading Group Meeting by Julia Evans on September 15, 2012 or here /Reference to ‘Wo Es war, soll Ich werden’

References to Sigmund Freud within LacanianWorks or here  gives an up to date list.

p131 Miss Anna Freud : See Minutes of the meeting of the International Psychoanalytical Association : 30th July 1953 : Dr Heinz Hartmann (IPA President & Chairman of the Meeting) or here  &

Texts by Anna Freud here

p132 Heinz Hartmann : Minutes of the meeting of the International Psychoanalytical Association : 30th July 1953 : Dr Heinz Hartmann (IPA President & Chairman of the Meeting) or here  &

Letter to Heinz Hartmann : 21st July 1953 : Jacques Lacan or here  &

Texts by Heinz Hartmann here

p143 Notes upon a case of Obsessional Neurosis (The ‘Rat Man’) :1909d: Sigmund Freud : Published Standard Edition : SE X  p155 or Penguin Freud Library (PFL) : Vol 9 : p31 : Published bilingual at  See  here


Note : If links to any required text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans.


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Sandwich in Kent & London


Further posts:

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan Information here

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan Information here

Lacanian Transmission here

Some Lacanian history here

Of the clinic here

Topology here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here

By Alan Sheridan here

By Julia Evans here