Lacan & the Americans


Editor’s Note

Fernando Castrillón

We are very pleased to open this new Feature in our journal, dedicated to an exploration of a thorny and urgent topic. At the heart of this set of essays is an exchange between the French Lacanian journal, Essaim, and the British psychoanalyst Darian Leader. The initial essay by Jamieson Webster functions as a rich, contextualizing preface, while the final three essays by David Lichtens…


My Country ‘Tis of Thee

Jamieson Webster

At some early point in my psychoanalytic life, more than a decade ago—still a trainee at The New York Psychoanalytic Institute and Society, as well as studying Lacan on the side—I spoke at an International Lacanian conference in New York for the first time. I don’t have the notes that I used but I remember well the question I wanted to pose to the audience of mostly European Lacanians (…


Lacan and the Americans

Darian Leader

In the early 1990s I was on a plane filled with Lacanian psychoanalysts returning from Madrid to Paris when a virulent argument about American society and culture broke out. The US was depicted as a nation of philistines, concerned only with quick fixes, consumerism and instant happiness. Only one analyst was brave enough to disagree, defending what he saw as the virtues of the protesta…


Letter from Essaim Editorial Committee

Essaim Editorial Committee

 (translation into English follows the French text)   Cher Darian Leader, Le comité de rédaction de la revue essaim a lu attentivement le texte que vous nous avez transmis intitulé « Lacan et les américains ». Certains points que vous soulevez auraient mérité un développement spécifique, argumenté et référencé, comme par exemple l’influence dont, selon vous, Lacan aurait bénéficiée…


Letter to Essaim Editorial Committee

Darian Leader

Dear Nicolas Guerin, Severine Mathelin, Mary McLoughlin and Erik Porge, I was surprised to receive such an impolite and patronising response from the editorial committee of Essaim. When Erik requested an article from me, I let him know that it would make “a few polemical points without going into the details of the historical issues”, which I did not have the time to present more fully …



David Lichtenstein

That anyone would believe that there ever was such a thing as an American Psychoanalysis, monolithic and consistent, is laughable to those of us who have worked in this chaotic field. It has been fragmented and contentious for decades. Darian Leader is certainly correct in arguing for this more nuanced view of the American scene and for wondering what the Lacanian caricature of American…


The Inevitability of Stereotypes

Sergio Benvenuto

“There is no worse lie than a truth misunderstood” William James (1986, p. 365)   The correspondence between Darian Leader and the editorial staff of Essaim confirms a state of affairs that Leader has the merit of questioning. I would call this state of affairs: Imaginary Reconstruction of Psychoanalysis. As Bernard Shaw said, “Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than i…


American Psychoanalysis: Ramblings from Russia, with Love

Duane Rousselle

My experience teaching psychoanalysis within several American universities led me twice to flee from the continent. First, I fled to Pune, India, followed by a transition to Mumbai. I discovered that Indian universities were a welcome counterpoint to the prudishness that has characterized many American classrooms. It was a pleasure to once again laugh with my students. Next, I fled to T…

European Journal of Psychoanalysis