Prefatory Note, the historical background of ‘The Function of Language in Psychoanalysis’ (1953) by Jacques Lacan : 1968 : Anthony Wilden

by Julia Evans on January 2, 1968

Pxxiii to pxxviii of ‘The Language of the Self – The function of language in Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan’ : 1968 :

translated, with notes and commentary by Anthony Wilden :

Published : Baltimore MD & London, The John Hopkins University Press

‘The Language of the Self – The function of language in Psychoanalysis by Jacques Lacan’ : 1968 : Anthony Wilden : Information here

Anthony Wilden does not translate Jacques Lacan’s ‘Preface’ to the ‘Rome Report’, instead he provides the historical background to its presentation in Rome in September 1953.

Available at  /authors by date (1968) & authors a-z  (W)

Bibliography [p313] : Available at  /authors by date (1968) & authors a-z  (W)

Index [p323] : Available at  /lacan (1953)


The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan or here

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

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Pxxvii : Logical Time and the Assertion of Anticipated Certainty: A New Sophism : March 1945 : Jacques Lacan or here

Opening paragraph:


En particulier, il ne laudra pas oublicr que la siparation en ernbryologie, anatomie, physiologie, psychologie, sociologie, clinique n’existe pas dans la nature et qu’il n’y a qu’une discipline: la neurobiologie à laquelle l’observation nous oblige d’ajouter l’épithète d’humaine en ce qui nous concerne.

(Quotation chosen as the motto of an Institute of Psychoanalysis in 1952.)

Translated as : “ln particular, it must not be forgotten that the separation into embryology, anatomy, physiology, psychology, sociology, and clinical practice does not exist in nature and that there is only one discipline: neurobiology, to which observation obliges us to add the epithet human in what concerns us.”

When the ‘Discours de Rome’ was finally published in 1956, it included a Preface outlining the circumstances under which it had been delivered, and the above epigraph. Since this Preface was concerned primarily with the internecine battle within the French psychoanalytical movement in 1952,it is now rather more a matter of anecdote than of history. Consequently it has seemed best simply to summarize it, rather than to reproduce it in its entirety here.

The Congrès des psychanalystes de langue française was to take place at the Psychological Institute of the University of Rome in September,1953. Lacan, as a leading member of the Société psychanalytique de Paris (founded in 1925) ,had been asked to deliver the usual theoretical report at the Congress. In the meantime, however, serious disagreements, partly technical but also personal, had arisen within the Society over the founding of the Institute whose motto Lacan quotes with such disdain. The result was a secession from the Paris society of a number of analysts and of about half the students undergoing their didactic analysis at the time. The secession was led by Lacan and Daniel Lagache; the eventual meeting in Rome of the fledgling Société française de psychanalyse, unrecognized by the International Association, also included Serge Leclaire, W. Granoff, Françoise Dolto, and Didier Anzieu.


Anthony Wilden’s translation of “The Function of Language in Psychoanalysis,” by Jacques Lacan is available The Function and Field of Speech and Language in Psychoanalysis (Rome) : 26th September 1953 : Jacques Lacan or 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, London & Sandwich, Kent


Further posts:

By Anthony Wilden  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

Jacques Lacan in English or here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here

By Julia Evans here

Further texts

By Jaques Lacan : Available here

By Sigmund Freud : Available here

By Anthony Wilden : here

Lacanian History : here

Écrits : 1966 : Jacques Lacan or here

Autres Écrits: 2001 : Jacques Lacan or here

Intervention on the Transference (Paris): October 16th 1951: Jacques Lacan or here