‘Does the Woman Exist? From Freud’s Hysteric to Lacan’s Feminine’ by Paul Verhaeghe

Published by Other Press in 1996

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This book describes how Freud attempted to chart hysteria, yet came to a standstill at the problem of woman and her desire, and of how Lacan continued along this road by creating new conceptual tools. The difficulties and upsets encountered by both men are examined.

This lucid presentation of the dialectical process that carries Lacan through the evolution of Freud’s thought offers profound insights into the place of the “feminine mystique” in our social fabric. Patiently and carefully, Verhaeghe applies the Lacanian grid to Freud’s text and succeeds in explaining Lacan’s formulations without merely recapitulating his theories. The reader is informed, along the way, not only of Lacan’s take on Freudian ideas, but also of the array of interpretations emerging from other trends in post-Freudian literature, including feminist revisionism.


“A miraculous answer to the confusions surrounding Freud’s and Lacan’s theory of feminine sexuality. . . . A must for anyone who wants to grasp what psychoanalysis has to say today.”

—Slavoj Žižek

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