Religion Magazine

Lacan’s “Nom-du-Pere” Refers to the Name of God the Father

By Mba @mbartoloabela

Jacques Lacan’s famous concept of the “Nom-du-Pere” in psychology, psychiatry and psychoanalysis, its crucial role in human development and the resultant psychosis when it is foreclosed, was interpreted throughout the years to refer to anything and anyone but God the Father. The knee-jerk denial has been extreme – foreclosure in action – and such interpretations were made under the substitutive rationalization that Lacan coined the concept both as metaphor and to refer to metaphor. But these interpretations by a multitude of clinicians and non-clinicians alike are revisionist at best, as the written evidence indicates otherwise.

Specifically, Lacan’s son-in-law Jacques-Alain Miller – a psychoanalyst in his own right – openly said, “The return to Bible study, which was Lacan’s ambition, involved the return to the vigor of the original tradition, to which we owe the Name-of-the-Father. The non-existing seminar is a return to the Bible as the core of what is upheld by Freud himself, as heir to this tradition, which he made use of in order to mask what Lacan tries to bring to light as the scandal of psychoanalysis, both with regard to this tradition and to the discourse of science. Moreover, Lacan wished to remind us in this seminar that the first of the names of the father is God the Father . . . Lacan relativizes the Name-of-the-Father when he claims that this father, the father of the famous paternal metaphor, is nothing but the place of God the Father . . . The Name-of-the-Father, which is in the place of God the Father, should not be confused with the subject supposed to know, the essential mistake as regards theory” (Jacques-Alain Miller. [2010]. The non-existent seminar. In The Symptom, Vol. 11).

Additionally, in The mistake of the subject supposed of knowledge – a seminar to be given in December 1967 in Naples but cancelled - Lacan himself stated, “Ese lugar de Dios-el-Padre es el que designe como Nombre-del-Padre y el que me proponia ilustrar en lo que debia ser el decimotercer ano de mi seminario.” That is: “The place of God the Father is designated as the Name-of-the-Father and I intended to illustrate this in what should have been the 13th year of my seminars” (ibid.).

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