A Buddhist–Lacanian Perspective on Lack

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The historical and contemporary dialogue between psychoanalysis and Buddhism is examined to advance theories of self-representation. This theoretical foundation provides for a reinterpretation of Lacanian psychoanalytic theory as it applies to the unconscious lack that haunts human subjectivity. The inevitable failure to construct an enduring and permanent sense of self is linked to a chronic feeling of lack and cultural malaise. Drawing upon the work of Buddhist philosopher David Loy, the article proposes that this feeling of lack is symptomatic of a more fundamental and primary repression: a fear of no-self, or egolessness. Both the Buddhist tradition and Lacanian methods rely on unconventional and indirect methods for circumventing the will of the ego. Such unconventional methods are employed to decenter our familiar and common modes of representational discourse in order to deconstruct the ego.

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