What is the Freudian Field?

by Judith Miller *

What is the Foundation of the Freudian Field?* It is a signifier, and nothing more. It is a signifier laid down by Jacques Lacan in February 1979, and of which I now have custody. But it’s not to put it under lock and key. On the contrary. It is a signifier that is at the disposal of all those, known and unknown, who, throughout the world, dedicate themselves to Lacan’s teaching, and try to engage with his work, in their countries, in their languages, in their cultures.

It would be an understatement to say that the Foundation’s organisation is extremely flexible. In fact, the Foundation is essentially open and at the disposal of all. It is open to initiatives and innovations, it even solicits them, provided that those who propose them are also those who carry them out. You only get from the Foundation what you put in. If the word were not inclined to frighten the Freudian Field, we might call it its ‘militancy’, so let’s speak instead of its seriousness.

Jacques Lacan / Sigmud Freud
Jacques Lacan / Sigmud Freud

The Foundation has developed without any preconceived plan, except that of favouring everywhere, and without sectarianism, the work of Lacan’s students and readers and, where possible, their solidarity. Here, the experience of a permanent training course has given birth to the Freudian College. There, a convocatory creates the series of International Encounters. One conference will lead to the institution of a seminar, another to a publication that will be translated shortly after. And so, without a plan, but not without principles, the Foundation develops as a network — it has been said that it has no interior, that its vocation is entirely outside itself.

Seen from another angle, it is a kind of amicable network; we know each other, we get to know each other, we trust each other. One has the feeling that Lacan’s teaching is still a struggle, that it’s not won, that there are no laurels upon which to rest, and that what is at stake is the very orientation of psychoanalysis for the time to come.

Of course, the Foundation cannot do everything. It supports, it stimulates, it echoes, it weaves multiple links, it puts people in contact, and sometimes it creates sparks. But it does not replace the psychoanalytical associations, which are responsible, at their level, for managing the experience, and which do so in a non-standardised way, as their reference to Lacan implies.

It is clear that this surprising Foundation is what takes the place, in the Freudian Field, of the International that Jacques Lacan, unlike Freud, did not want to create. […] The panorama it presents shall, I will wager, be even more extensive and more complex in the future.

* Judith Miller (1941-2017) was Lacan’s daughter and the wife of Jacques-Alain Miller. After Lacan’s death she became the Director of the Freudian Field.

# This text was originally published as a preface to the journal Analytica, no. 44, Paris, Navarin éditeur, 1986.