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French: intersubjectivité
Jacques Lacan
Early Work

When Lacan begins -- in 1953 -- to analyze in detail the function of speech in psychoanalysis, he emphasizes that speech is essentially an intersubjective process.

"The allocution of the subject entails an allocutor" and therefore "the locutor is constituted in it as intersubjectivity."[1]


The term "intersubjectivity" thus possesses, at this point in Lacan's work, a positive value, since it draws attention to the importance of language in psychoanalysis and emphasizes the fact that the unconscious is "transindividual."


Psychoanalysis is thus to be conceived in intersubjective rather than intrasubjective terms.

Later Work

Reciprocity and Symmetry

However, by 1960 the term "intersubjectivity" has come to acquire negative connotations for Lacan.

It is now associated, not with speech as such, but with the notions of reciprocity and symmetry that characterize the dual relationship;[2] that is, with the imaginary rather than with the symbolic.


Psychoanalysis is no longer to be conceived of in terms of intersubjectivity.[3]


Indeed, the experience of transference is precisely what undermines the notion of intersubjectivity.[4]

See Also