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French: [[analyse didactique]], formation
Jacques Lacan

The English word "training" is used to translate two French terms used by Lacan: analyse didactique ("training analysis") and formation ("professional training").

Therapeutic Analysis

By the time Lacan began training as an analyst, in the 1930s, it had become established practice in the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) to make a distinction between "therapeutic analysis" and "training analysis" (this distinction is still maintained by the IPA today).

In the context of this distinction, the term "therapeutic analysis" refers to a course of analytic treatment entered into by the analysand for the purpose of treating certain symptoms, whereas the term "training analysis" refers exclusively to a course of analytic treatment entered into for the purpose of training as an analyst.

Training Analysis

According to the rules governing all the societies affiliated to the IPA, all members must first undergo a training analysis before being allowed to practice as analysts.

However, an analysis is only recognized as a training analysis by these societies if it is conducted by one of the few senior analysts designated as a "training analyst", and if it is embarked upon purely for the purpose of training.

This institutional distinction between training analysis and therapeutic analysis became one of the main objects of Lacan's criticism.

Jacques Lacan

While Lacan agrees with the IPA that it is absolutely necessary to undergo psychoanalytic treatment if one wants to become an analyst, he firmly disagrees with the artificial distinction drawn between therapeutic analysis and training analysis.

For Lacan, there is only one form of the analytic process, irrespective of the reason for which the analysand embarks upon treatment, and the culmination of that process is not the removal of symptoms but the passage from analysand to analyst.

All analyses are thus capable of producing an analyst, and all claims by institutions to say which analyses count as training and which do not are bogus, for "the authorisation of an analyst can only come from himself."[1]

Lacan therefore abolishes the distinction between therapeutic analysis and training analysis; all analyses are training analyses, at least potentially.

"There is only one kind of psychoanalysis, the training analysis."[2]

Today, many Lacanians have dispensed with both the term "therapeutic analysis" and the term "[[training|training analysis", preferring to use the term "personal analysis (a term Lacan himself uses occasionally) to designate any course of analytic treatment.

Training of Analysts

The "training of analysts" (French: formation des analystes) refers to the process by which people learn how to conduct psychoanalytic treatment, i.e. how to be analysts.

For Lacan, this is not simply a process that analysts go through at the beginning of their professional life, but an ongoing process.

There are two sources from which analysts learn how to conduct psychoanalytic treatment: their own experience of treatment (first as patients, then as analysts), and the experience of others which is transmitted to them via psychoanalytic theory.

Lacan insists that the most fundamental of these sources is the analyst's own experience of psychoanalytic treatment as a patient.

However, this does not excuse the analyst from having to learn a lot more besides.

Lacan's syllabus for the training of analysts is very extensive, and includes literature, mathematics and history.[3]

The analyst must seek to become, as Freud was, "an encyclopedia of the arts and muses."[4]

This broad curriculum is evident in Lacan's public seminar which is filled with incursions into philosophy, topology, logic, literature and linguistics - all of which Lacan regards as essential to the training of analysts.


It is worth noting that the English term "training" is nuanced rather differently to the French term formation.

Whereas the English term carries connotations of a formal programme, or a bureaucratic structure, the French term (especially in Lacan's work) connotes a process which alters the subject in the very kernel of his being, and which cannot be regulated by set ritualistic procedures not guaranteed by a printed qualification.

See Also


  1. Lacan, Jacques. 1967. p. 14
  2. 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. 274
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 144-5
  4. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p. 169