Seminar V : The Formations of the Unconscious : 1957-1958 : begins 6th November 1957 : Jacques Lacan

by Julia Evans on November 6, 1957

(i) Translated by Cormac Gallagher – Referred to as (CG)

Published at

Available here

(ii) Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller (J-AM, Translated by Russell Grigg – Referred to as (RG)

Title : Formations of the Unconscious, The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book V

Published by Polity Press, 2017

Please Note :

Was the Dream of the Butcher’s Wife examined on 9th April or 30th April 1958?

In Russell Grigg’s translation, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller, (Polity Press 2017) Chapter 20 – 30th April, from p355, is titled ‘The Dream by the Butcher’s Beautiful Wife’. There is no session dated the 9th April. In Cormac Gallagher’s translation, there is a session of 9th April, but no session of 30th April. The beginning of sessions 23rd April 1958 & 16th April 1958 in both translation are clearly translations of the same material, though the beginning of Cormac Gallagher’s translation of 16th April 1958 has a diagram which is omitted from the Russell Grigg translation.

Cormac Gallagher’s 9th April 1958 originates from the same material as Russell Grigg’s 30th April 1958.

As Easter Sunday was on Sunday 6th April, it would appear that the date in the Russell Grigg translation is probably correct and there is no certainty.


Development of ‘The Graph of Desire’

Date of sessions & page numbers in Cormac Gallagher (CG) & Russell Grigg’s (RG/J-AM) translations & Jacques-Alain Miller’s chapter headings & page numbers from the original French edition, edited by Jacques-Alain Miller

Notes, references & quotations in both translations

Further related texts

Development of ‘The Graph of Desire’

Jacques-Alain Miller in the published edition of Seminar V, translated by Russell Grigg, gives the origin of the graph of desire and an explanation of these schemas. From p517 of this translation : Editor’s note : The schema constructed over the course of this Seminar (‘the graph of desire’) acquired its definitive form in ‘Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire’, written in 1962(?). See The Subversion of the Subject and the Dialectic of Desire (Royaumont): 19th to 23rd September 1960: Jacques Lacan or here or Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

For the first part of Seminar V, Lacan refers to ‘The Instance of the Letter’, a text from May 1957. See The Agency (Insistence or Instance) of the Letter in the Unconscious or Reason since Freud (Sorbonne, Paris) : 9th May 1957 : Jacques Lacan or here  : Published in Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan : Information here

Following the first seven chapters of this Seminar (From session 8th January 1958, p101 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation), over December and January, Lacan wrote, ‘On a Question Prior to any Possible Question of Psychosis’. See On a question preliminary to any possible treatment of psychosis : 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here : Published in Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan : Information here

Lacan wrote ‘The Youth of Gide’ (See Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan : Information here) over the February vacation and it was published in April. (The Youth of Gide, or the Letter and Desire. Time-line : This article was published in Critique CXXXI (1958): p291-315) One finds an echo of it in session of 5th March 1958 (p181 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation).

From 5th March 1958 to 23rd April 1958 (inclusive), as well as the session of 7th May 1958, are influenced by the prospect of the public lecture that Lacan was to give in Munich on 9th May called ‘The Signification of the Phallus’. See The Meaning (or Signification) of the Phallus (Munich): 9th May 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here : Published in Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan : Information here.

Finally, the last part coincides with ‘The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power’, a paper presented at Royaumont in July. See The Direction of the Treatment and the Principles of its Power:10th-13th July 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here : Published in Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan : Information here.

Further references:

Jacques-Alain Miller : Commentaries on the graphs & Classified index of the major concepts : 1966 : Information here

Published in Écrits, a selection (Jacques Lacan) : 1977 : Alan Sheridan : Information here

Note : Lacan develops the graph, in the later section of this Seminar, on

p288 of Seminar V : 14th May 1958, Cormac Gallagher’s translation &

p301 of Seminar V : 21st May 1958, Cormac Gallagher’s translation &

p311 of Seminar V : 4th June 1958, Cormac Gallagher’s translation &

p324 – 325Seminar V : 11th June 1958, Cormac Gallagher’s translation &

p341 of Seminar V : 18th June 1958, Cormac Gallagher’s translation &

p356 & 357 & 358 of Seminar V : 25th June 1958, Cormac Gallagher’s translation

Date of sessions & page numbers in Cormac Gallagher (CG)

& Russell Grigg’s (RG/J-AM) translations & Jacques-Alain Miller’s chapter headings

& page numbers in the original French edition edited by Jacques-Alain Miller (F/J-AM)

CG = Translated by Cormac Gallagher, available at

RG/J-AM = Translated by Russell Grigg, Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller

F/J-AM = French edition, Edited by Jacques-Alain Miller

THE FREUDIAN STRUCTURE OF WIT (Section Heading by Jacques-Alain Miller)

1. Seminar V : 6th November 1957 : p1- 14 (CG)


Points from previous seminars

Schema of Witz

Wit and its national traditions

Confirmation by the Other

What can only be seen by looking away

F/J-AM p9 – 25

2. Seminar V : 13th November 1957 : p15 – 29 (CG)


Substitution, condensation and metaphor


From jokes to slips and to the forgetting of names

Ruins and metonymic sparks

The parasite and his master

F/J-AM p27 – 45

3. Seminar V : 20th November 1957 : p30 – 44 (CG)


From Kant to Jakobson

The repressed in witticisms

The forgetting of a name, a failed metaphor

The appeal to a signifier

The young woman and the count

F/J-AM p47 – 64

4. Seminar V : 27th November 1957 : p45-58 (CG)

IV The Golden Calf : p57 – 73 (RG/J-AM)

Need and refusal

Formalizing metonymy

No metaphor without metonymy

Maupassant’s double vision

Fénéon’s decentring

F/J-AM p65 – 81

5. Seminar V : 4th December 1957 : p59 – 71 (CG)

V A Bit-of Sense and the Step-of-Sense : p74 – 100(RG/J-AM)

Knots of signification and pleasure

Need, demand, desire

Benefits of ingratitude

Misunderstanding and misrecognition


F/J-AM p83 – 90

6. Seminar V : 11th December 1957 : p72 – 85 (CG)

VI Whoah, Neddy! : p91- 108 (RG/J-AM)

Exorcizing the topic of thought

Queneau tells a joke

The joke machine

The Other between the real and the symbolic

Being of like mind

F/J-AM p101 – 119

7. Seminar V : 18th December 1957 : p86 – 100 (CG)

VII. Une Femme de Non-Recevoir,or: A Flat Refusal : p109 – 126 (RG/J-AM)

Duplicating the graph

Laughter, an imaginary phenomenon

An Other of one’s own

The return of jouissance in Aristophanes

Comic love

F/J-AM p121 – 139

(RG/J-AM) The Logic of Castration

8. Seminar V : 8th January 1958 : p101- 113 (CG)

VIII. Foreclosure of the Name-of-the-Father : p129 – 144 (RG/J-AM)

Mrs Pankow expounds the double bind [English in original]

Typography of the unconscious

The Other in the Other

Psychosis between code and message

Symbolic triangle and imaginary triangle

F/J-AM p141 – 159

9. Seminar V : 15th January 1958 : p114 – 127 (CG)

IX The Paternal Metaphor : P145 – 162 (RG/J-AM)

Superego, reality, ego-ideal

Ways the father can fail

The delicate question of the inverted Oedipus complex

The phallus as a signified

The dimensions of something Other

F/J-AM p161 – 178

10. Seminar V : 22nd January 1958 : p128 – 152 (CG)

X. The Three Moments of the Oedipus Complex (I) : p163 – 180 (RG/J-AM)

From the Name-of-the-Father to the phallus

The key to the decline of the Oedipus complex

Being and having

Caprice and the law

The a-subject child

F/J-AM p179 – 196

11. Seminar V : 29th January 1958 : p141 – 152 (CG)

XI The Three Moments of the Oedipus Complex (II) : p181- 196 (RG/J-AM)

Desire for desire

The metonymic phallus

La Châtre’s beautiful letter

‘Inject’ and ‘adject’

Male homosexuality in the clinical field

F/J-AM p197 – 212

12. Seminar V : 5th February 1958 : p153 – 166 (CG)

XII. From Image to Signifier – in Pleasure and in Reality : p197 – 215 (RG/J-AM)

The connection between the two principles

Winnicott’s paradox

Kleinism’s dead-ends

From the Urbildto the Ideal

The girl who wants to be whipped

F/J-AM p213 – 232

13. Seminar V : 12th February 1958 : p167- 180 (CG)

XIII. Fantasy, Beyond the Pleasure Principle : p216 – 231 (RG/J-AM)

Reading ‘A Child is being Beaten’

The hieroglyphics of the whip, the law of the rod

The negative therapeutic reaction

The pain of being

So-called feminine masochism

F/J-AM p233 – 248

(RG/J-AM) The Significance of the Phallus

14. Seminar V : 5thMarch 1958 : p181 – 194 (CG)

XIV. Desire and Jouissance : p235 – 252 (RG/J-AM)

The masks of a woman

André Gide’s perversion

The Balconyby Jean Genet

Comedy and the phallus

F/J-AM p251 – 268

15. Seminar V : 12th March 1958 : p195 (CG)

XV The Girl and the Phallus : p253 – 269 (RG/J-AM)

The aporias of the Kleinian approach

The phallus, signifier of desire

The theory of the phallic phase

Critique of Ernest Jones

A step forward

F/J-AM p269 – 286

16. Seminar V : 19th March 1958 : p209 – 220 (CG)

XVI. Insignias of the Ideal : p270 – 284 (RG/J-AM)

Karen Horney and Helene Deutsch

Masculinity complex and homosexuality

The process of secondary identification

Mother and woman

The metaphor of the ego-ideal

F/J-AM p287 – 302

17. Seminar V : 26th March 1958 : p221 (CG)

XVII. The Formulas of Desire : p285 – 299 (RG/J-AM)

Critique of the early Oedipus complex

Desire and mark

On Totem and Taboo

The sign of language

The signifier of the barred Other

F/J-AM p303 – 317

18. Seminar V : 9th April 1958 : p233- 245 (CG)

As Easter Sunday was on 6th April 1958, it is more likely that this session was on 30th April as given in Russell Grigg’s translation. See Seminar V : 30thApril below for notes and references.

19. Seminar V : 16th April 1958 : p246 – 257 (CG)

XVIII. Symptoms and Their Masks : p300 – 314 (RG/J-AM)

My interpretation and his

The case of Elisabeth von R.

Dissociating love and desire

Articulated desire is not articulable

Laughter and identification

F/J-AM p319 -334

20. Seminar V : 23rd April 1958 : p258 (CG)

XIX. Signifier, Bar and Phallus : p315 – 330 (RG/J-AM)

Desire is eccentric to satisfaction

Outline of the graph of desire

Friday’s footprint

Aufhebungof the phallus

The Other’s castration

F/J-AM  p335 – 351

(RG/J-AM) The Dialectic of desire and Demand in the Clinical Study and Treatment of the Neuroses


Seminar V : 30th April 1958 : p233 – 245 (CG) – see Ch18 9th April 1958 above

XX The Dream by the Butcher’s Beautiful Wife : p333 – 349 (RG/J-AM)

The Other’s desire

Unsatisfied desire

The desire for something other

Barred desire

Dora’s identification

F/J-AM p355 – 370


21. Seminar V : 7th May 1958 : p271 – 283 (CG) – 365

XXI. The ‘Still Waters Run Deep’ Dreams : p350 (RG/J-AM)

Madame Dolto and the phallus

An hysteric’s jacket

The unconditional in the demand for love

The absolute condition of desire

The Other become object of desire

F/J-AM p371 – 385

22. Seminar V : 14th May 1958 : p284 – 297 (CG)

XXII. The Other’s Desire : p366 – 382 (RG/J-AM)

Three articles by Maurice Bouvet

The graph of desire

The third ‘still waters run deep’ dream

The future of the obsessional’s fixed ideas

The supports of desire

F/J-AM p387 – 403

23. Seminar V : 21st May 1958 : p298 (CG)

XXIII. The Obsessional and His Desire : p383 – 399 (RG/J-AM)

The duality of desire

The significance of fantasy

Sadistic scenarios

Permission, prohibition, exploit

The significance of acting out

F/J-AM p405 – 421

24. Seminar V : 4th June 1958 : p311 – 323 (CG)

XXIV. Transference and Suggestion : p400 – 414 (RG/J-AM)

Three forms of identifications

On two lines

Regression and resistance

Significance of an action

Technique – theirs and ours

F/J-AM p422 – 438

25. Seminar V : 11th June 1958 : p324 – 338 (CG)

XXV. The Signification of the Phallus in the Treatment : p415 – 431 (RG/J-AM)

Reading the schema

The reduction to demand

From fantasy to message

The treatment of a female obsessional neurosis

Beyond the castration complex

F/J-AM p439 – 435

26. Seminar V : 18th June 1958 : p339 – 351 (CG)

XXVI. The Circuits of Desire : p432 – 447 (RG/J-AM)

The basis of interpretation

The Other of the Other

Symptom and castration

Obsessional distance

Little theory of blasphemy

F/J-AM p437- 472

27. Seminar V : 25th June 1948 : p352 – 366 (CG)

XXVII. Exiting via the Symptom : p448 – 464 (RG/J-AM)

From the speech of the Other to the unconscious

The significance of regression

Why we are not monkeys

The psychotic and the Other’s desire

The neurotic and the image of the other

F/J-AM p448 – 490

28. Seminar V : 2nd July 1958 : p367 – 381 (CG)

XXVIII. You are the One You Hate  p465 – 481 (RG/J-AM)

From the demand for death to the death of demand

Commandment, guilt without law, superego

Avatars of the phallus signifier

Misery of the gendarme

Not legitimating penis envy

F/J-AM p491 – 507


A The graph of desire RG/J-AM p485, F-J-AM p511

B Explanation of the schemas RG/J-AM p486 – 490, F/J-AM p513 – 516

Editor’s Note [Jacques-Alain Miller] RG/J-AM p491 – 492, F/J-AM p517 – 518

Translator’s endnotes [Russell Grigg] p493 – 507

Index p508 – 527

Notes, references & quotations from Seminar V

Seminar V : 20th November 1957

p40-41 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation quoted in The Real Presence and Slipperiness of the Body (LRO 248) : 11th October 2020 : Catherine Lacaze-Paule  See   here

Seminar V : 5th February 1958

Referenced by Russell Grigg in his intervention to the NLS Congress in Tel Aviv, on 2nd June 2019, on “References for Signifiers in the Real: from Schreber to the Wolf Man”

Quote from Grigg : ‘I have chosen to return to the early period of his teaching and commence with a brief quotation from Seminar V, Formations of the Unconscious:

Hallucinations are phenomena structured at the level of signifiers. One cannot, not even for an instant, think about the organizationof these hallucinations without seeing that the first thing to be emphasized in the phenomenon is that it’s a phenomenon of signifiers. . . .

. . . what characterizes the hallucinatory satisfaction of desire is that it is formed in the domain of signifiers and that, as such, it implies a locus of the Other. . . . [N]ot necessarily an Other [but] a locus of the Other, insofar as it is necessary for the position of the instance [agency] of signifiers (SV, 221).’

JE notes that the last sentence is translated significantly different in the two translations.

Seminar V : 5th February 1958 : p158 – 159 in Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

But is it not obvious that the major, most striking, most massive, most intrusive phenomenon of all delusional phenomena, must not be just any phenomenon at all, must not be just something or other which is related to a type of reverie of the satisfaction of desire? It is something as clear cut as verbal hallucination, and before anything else, before thinking about whether this verbal hallucination takes place at this or that level, whether there is here in the subject something like a kind of internal reflection in the form of psycho-motor hallucination which is extremely important to determine, whether there is projection or something else, does it not appear from the first, that in the structuring of what presents itself as hallucination, that which dominates, and dominates from the first, and that which should serve as first element of classification, is its structure in the signifier? It is that they are phenomena structured at the level of the signifier, it is that the very organization of these hallucinations cannot even be thought about for an instant, without seeing that the first thing to be brought forward in this phenomenon, is that it is a signifying phenomenon.

Here then is something that should always remind us that if it is true that one can approach from this angle the characterization of what can be called the pleasure principle, namely the fundamentally unreal satisfaction of desire, the differentiation, the characteristic that the hallucinatory satisfaction of desire exists, is that it is absolutely original, that it proposes itself in the domaine of the signifier, and that it implies as such a certain locus of the other which is not moreover necessarily an other, but a certain locus of the other in so far as it is required by the positing of this agency of the signifier.

Seminar V : 12th February 1958 : p167 – 180 (CG)


The Phallic Phase : given in Wiesbaden on 4th September 1932 [1933] : Ernest Jones: Information & availability here

– Otto Rank “Perversions and Neuroses”, Papers on Psychoanalysis, Vol 4, part III.

– p167 A Child is Being Beaten : 1919 : S. Freud : trans. J. Strachey, SE: XVII, PFL Vol 10.  Published with both English & German shown at  & available here.

Seminar V : 16thApril 1958

* This passage is published on p255 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation:

In Seminar 5, on April 16th 1958, Lacan evoked the form of communication that occurs during this very early childhood. The first true form of communication that takes place between the child and his mother is laughter. Anyone who has observed a child in its first few months will agree, said Lacan, children laugh way before they can speak. And this laughter has to do with what lies beyond the mere presence of the mother standing before the child insofar as the child knows that the presence can bring satisfaction. This familiar presence that the child knows is capable of satisfying his needs is “called upon, perceived, recognized” before the child can speak, in the very special code made up of his first bouts of laughter”[3].   in Le Séminaire livre V, Les formations de l’inconscient, Paris, Seuil, 1998, Fp. 331. : quoted in ‘There is no Clowning about it’ : by France Jaigu: January 7th, 2018 : LRO :  or  here

Seminar V : 16th April 1958: p246 – 257 (CG)


– P246 (CG) Analysis Terminable & Interminable : 1937c  : Sigmund Freud

– P249 of CG : Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (Dora) : ?? : Sigmund Freud : SE7, p7-122 of Freud. Available from Richard G. Klein’s website or here

– p250 Elizabeth von R  “Fräulein Elisabeth von R.” is the pseudonym Freud gave to Ilona Weiss, a young woman of Hungarian origin, whose case is described in the Studies on Hysteria (1895d) and whom he treated in the fall of 1892 and July 1893. Published at Richard G. Klein’s site, & available here with notes on the case studies.

– p255 of CG : Probably The Primal Cavity : a contribution to the genesis of perception and its role for psychoanalytic theory : 1955 : René Spitz : See here

Seminar V : 30th April 1958:– see 9th April 1958 in Cormac Gallagher p233 (CG)


– p238 (CG) : The Dream of the Butcher’s Wife from Interpretation of Dreams…. See The Interpretation of Dreams: 1st November 1899 (published as 1900): Sigmund Freud  or here

– P241 (CG) : Group Psychology ….  Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud : SEXVIII p69-143 : You will find Freud’s paper in English with the original German text laid out in the right hand column : published by available here

Seminar V : 18th June 1958


P339 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : The therapeutic effect of inexact interpretation : a contribution to the theory of suggestion : October 1931 : Edward Glover or here

Seminar V : 25th June 1958

Referenced by Russell Grigg in his intervention to the NLS Congress in Tel Aviv, on 2ndJune 2019, on “References for Signifiers in the Real: from Schreber to the Wolf Man”

Quote from Grigg : The forms of psychosis from the most benign to the extreme state of dissolution present us with a pure and simple discourse of the Other (SV, 481)

Seminar V : 25th June 1958 : p358 – 359 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation :

This indeed is what happens in psychosis, in so far as the name of the father is rejected, I mean is the object of a primitive Verwerfung which does not enter into the cycle of signifiers, and it is also why the desire of the other and in particular the desire of the mother, is not symbolised in it. It is very precisely that which on this schema, if we had to represent the position of psychosis, would make us say that this desire as such, I do not mean qua existing, everyone knows that even the mothers of psychotics have a desire, even though it is not always sure, but undoubtedly it is not symbolised in the system of the subject, and its not being symbolised, is what allows us to see what we see, namely that for the psychotic the word of the Other does not pass in any way into his unconscious; the Other speaks to him unceasingly, the Other qua the locus of the word. This does not necessarily mean you or I, it means more or less the sum of what is offered to him as a field of perception. This field naturally speaks to him about us, and also to take an example, the first one to come to mind, the well known one, the one repeated last night by Stein [?] in what he told us, that in delusions the red colour of a car can mean that he is immortal. Everything speaks to him because nothing of the symbolic organisation destined to dispatch the other to where he ought to be, namely to his unconscious, nothing of that order is realised, and that is why I could say, the Other speaks in a fashion that is entirely homogeneous to this first primitive word which is that of the demand. That is why everything is sonorised, that the Id which is in the unconscious for the neurotic subject speaks, is outside for the psychotic subject. That the Id speaks, and that it speaks aloud in the most natural fashion, is not a cause for astonishment. If the Other is the locus of the word, it is there that the Id speaks (ça parle), and resounds from every side.

Naturally we find the extreme case at the point of the outbreak of the psychosis, where as I have always formulated it for you, what is Verworft, or rejected from the symbolic, reappears in the real. This real which is in question, is precisely the hallucination in this case, that is to say the Other in so far as he speaks. It is always in the Other of course that the Id speaks, but here it takes on the form of the real. The psychotic subject does not doubt it: it is the other who is speaking to him, and speaks to him through every possible signifier, and it is enough to stoop down to collect them by the shovelfull in the human world. Advertisements, etc., everything that surrounds us has a character marked by the signifier. The character of loosening, of dissolution is more or less great according to the state of the psychosis. Everything that we see, and what Freud articulates for us as being the reason why the psychosis is organised, is articulated, being constructed precisely to supply for this absence in its organised point, I mean depending on the signifying structure of the desire of the Other, because what do the most benign forms of psychosis present us with, if it is not of course fundamentally, and right at the extreme state of dissolution, a pure and simple discourse of the Other, namely that that comes to be stressed here in the form of signification, namely as I showed you two years ago, these very curious sorts of decompositions of the word which, by the very structure of what is presented to us here – I could not show it to you then – necessarily proved themselves to be a message-code (code de messages). On the code what is sent back from O is then all that the subject has at his disposition to vivify the discourse of the Other.

You remember Schreber, the fundamental tongue, every word which is given to him involves in itself this kind of definition whose advent comes about with the giving of the word itself. It is a message code on the code, and inversely these phrases: “How is it that ……” “You only have to …….”.

Perhaps he will want, and again will want too much in the sentence. But that is all there is, namely a series of messages which only aim at what in the code refers to the messenger, that which in the code designates these particles, these personal pronouns, these auxiliary verbs, designates the place of the messenger.

7th December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, contact Julia Evans: : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans or here

Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in Earl’s Court, London

Related reference:

Jacques-Alain Miller : Commentaries on the graphs & Classified index of the major concepts : 1966 : Information here.  Published in Écrits, a selection (Jacques Lacan) : 1977 : Alan Sheridan  Information here

Further posts:

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