‘How to Read Lacan’ by Slavoj Žižek

Published by W. W. Norton Company in 2006. Download link updated on 7th August 2021.

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Lacan’s motto of the ethics of psychoanalysis involves a profound paradox. Traditionally, psychoanalysis was expected to allow the patient to overcome the obstacles which prevented access to “normal” sexual enjoyment; today, however, we are bombarded by different versions of the injunction “Enjoy!” Psychoanalysis is the only discourse in which you are allowed not to enjoy. Slavoj Žižek’s passionate defense of Lacan reasserts Lacan’s ethical urgency. For Lacan, psychoanalysis is a procedure of reading and each chapter reads a passage from Lacan as a tool to interpret another text from philosophy, art or popular ideology.


Slavoj Žižek is a Philosopher and psychoanalytic social theorist. He is Senior Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Ljubljana; Professor at the School of Law and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Birkbeck, University of London; Distinguished Scholar at the Kyung Hee University, Seoul; and Visiting Professor at the German Department, New York University. His field of work comprises Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, dialectical-materialist metaphysical interpretations of German Idealism and Marxian critique of ideology. His more than sixty books in English have been widely translated. His latest publications include Pandemic! & Pandemic! 2, Hegel in a Wired Brain, Sex and the Failed Absolute, Like A Thief In Broad DaylightReading MarxIncontinence of the Void, and The Day After the Revolution.

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