French Research Seminar: Sinan Richards (KCL), 'Stand and Deliver! Your money or your life: Lacan and Fanon on Freedom and Psychosis'
Abstract: In 1946, the French neurologist and psychiatrist Henri Ey claimed that ‘if we were to follow Lacan’s conception of psychogenesis, there would no longer be any psychiatry’. By 1946, Jacques Lacan was already a dangerous outlier and radical figure in French psychiatric circles, threatening the foundations of the empirical psychiatric sciences. So, why did the young trainee psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon, read, cite, and dedicate a portion of his doctoral thesis to the mystical Lacan while he was a student in Lyon in the early 1950s? This talk will demonstrate the close intellectual proximity of Lacan’s psychoanalytic project to Fanon’s anticolonial, revolutionary clinic. Through a careful reassessment and reconstruction of the early Lacan and the early Fanon, focusing primarily on untranslated materials, I will show the specific ways that Lacan’s iconoclastic contributions to psychiatry from 1928-1953 informed and influenced Fanon in the period 1951-1961. Central to my argument is Fanon’s concept of alienation from Peau noire, masques blancs, which is, as I will show, inherited from Lacan’s concept of the same name. For both Lacan and Fanon, alienation is directly connected to his twin concepts of psychosis and freedom.
This seminar will take place in the Warwick Faculty of Arts Building room FAB3.30.