From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis
Jump to: navigation, search
French: école
Jacques Lacan
Ècole Freudienne de Paris

When Jacques Lacan founded the Ècole Freudienne de Paris (EFP) in 1964, after his resignation from the Société Française de Psychanalyse (SPP), he chose to call it a "school" (école) for precise reasons.

Not only was it the first time that a psychoanalytic organisation had been called a "school" rather than an "association" or a "society", but the term "school" also highlighted the fact that the EFP was more a means of psychoanalytic formation centred around a doctrine than an institutional order centred around a group of important people.

Psychoanalytic Institution

Thus the very use of the term "school" in the name of the EFP indicated that it was an attempt to found a very different type of psychoanalytic institution from those which had been founded before.

Lacan was particularly keen to avoid the dangers of the hierarchy dominating the institution, which he saw in the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA), and which he blamed for the theoretical misunderstandings which had come to dominate the IPA; the IPA had become, he argued, a kind of church.[1]

However, it is also important to note that Lacan's criticisms of the IPA do not imply a criticism of the psychoanalytic institution per se; while Lacan is very critical of the dangers that beset all psychoanalytic institutions, the fact that he himself founded one is evidence that he thought that some kind of institutional framework was necessary for psychoanalysts.

Thus Lacan is just as sceptical of those analysts who reject all institutions as he is of those who turn the institution into a kind of church.

History of the EFP
Training of Analysts

Many of Lacan's ideas cannot be understood without some understanding of the history of the EFP (1964-80), especially those of Lacan's ideas which relate to the training of analysts.


In this context it is important to note that the EFP was not merely a training institute, and that membership was not restricted to analysts/trainees, but was open to anyone with an interest in psychoanalysis.

All members had equal voting rights, which meant that the EFP was the first truly democratic psychoanalytic organisation in history.

Four Categories

There were four categories of members in the EFP:

  • M.E. (Membre de l'Ecole, or simple member),
  • A.P. (Analyste Practiquant),
  • A.M.E. (Analyste Membre de l'Ècole), and
  • A.E. (Analyste de l'Ècole).

Members could, and often did, hold several titles simultaneously.

Those who applied for membership of the school were interviewed by a committee called the cardo (a word meaning a hinge on which a door turns) before being admitted as an M.E.

Only the A.M.E. and the A.E. were recognised as analysts by the school, although other members were not forbidden to conduct analyses, and could award themselves the title of A.P. to indicate that they were practising analysts.

The title of A.M.E. was granted to members of the school who satisfied a jury of senior members that they had conducted the analysis of two patients in a satisfactory manner; in this sense, the category of A.M.E, was similar to that of the titular members of other psychoanalytic societies.

The title of A.E., was awarded on the basis of a very different procedure, which Lacan called the pass.


The pass was instituted by Lacan in 1967 as a means of verifying the end of analysis, and constitutes the most original feature of the EFP.


Another original feature of the EFP was the promotion of research in small study groups known as cartels.

Dissolution of the EFP

The final years of the EFP were dominated by intense controversy over the pass and other issues.

In 1980, Lacan dissolved the EFP, and in 1981 he created a new institution in its stead, the École de la Cause Freudienne (ECF).

Some of the original members of the EFP followed Lacan into the ECF, whereas others left to set up a variety of other groups.

Some of these groups still exist today, as does the ECF.

See Also


  1. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book XI. The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1964. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Hogarth Press and Institute of Psycho-Analysis, 1977. p.4