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Alireza Taheri: Understanding Psychosis and Autism Through a Lacanian Lens

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

Understanding Psychosis and Autism Through a Lacanian Lens:

From the Interpersonal Through the Linguistic to the Topological

Public Session: Saturday, July 29 ---10 am Pacific Time



In this lecture, Alireza Taheri will introduce the audience to a psychoanalytic understanding of psychosis and autism with a focus on the immense contributions of Jacques Lacan as well as contemporary theorists and clinicians working in the Lacanian field. As Lacan’s work is notorious for being impenetrable, the aim of this presentation will be to help attendants find their way in the maze of his conceptual apparatus to gain a clearer understanding of questions of aetiology, diagnosis and treatment. Alireza will begin by considering Lacan’s notion of the Name of the Father and what consequences it entails for human psychic functioning. In this first part of the talk, Alireza will reflect on matters pertaining to the emergence various categories central to human subjectivity such as truth, mortality, guilt, the incest taboo, mourning and social co-existence to name a few. In light of the aforementioned categories, he will then elaborate on the following important clinical entities: paranoia, schizophrenia, manic-depressive psychosis, autism, melancholia (psychotic depression) and transgenderism. Commensurate with Lacan’s distinction between the imaginary, symbolic and real registers, three important perspectives for understanding the psychoses and autism will continuously guide the reflections throughout the lecture. Firstly, Alireza will consider matters of aetiology and structure through the lens of the interpersonal dynamics forming the early relationships shaping the subject’s psychic structure. Secondly, the question of psychic structure will be elaborated through the linguistic paradigm offered by Lacan with its distinctions between sign, signifier, signified and so on. Finally, a topological perspective, focused on mathematical objects such as the Moebius strip, the torus and the Klein bottle, will supplement the other two perspectives to further sharpen aetiological, diagnostic and therapeutic understanding. The course will be of interest to academics and artists interested in broadening their theoretical grasp of Lacan, clinicians (psychologists, psychiatrist, psychotherapists, social workers and so on) in private practice or within larger institutions as well as members of the larger population intellectually curious to learn more about psychoanalysis, psychosis and autism.


Alireza Taheri wrote his doctoral dissertation on Nietzsche, Freud and Lacan at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Professor John Forrester (dissertation examiners: Professor Renata Salecl and Professor Raymond Geuss). He currently provides psychoanalytic psychotherapy in a private practice in Toronto where he is also actively involved in teaching Lacanian theory at the Toronto Psychoanalytic Institute and Society. Alireza is a faculty member of PersPsy (Persepolis Psychoanalytic) where he teaches psychoanalytic theory and practice to students in Tehran (Iran). He is also a faculty member of the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis where he will be teaching Lacanian theories of psychosis as well as courses on philosophy and psychoanalysis. He is also engaged in writing articles and books on philosophy, psychoanalysis, film and literature. Alireza has recently published a monograph with Routledge entitled Hegelian-Lacanian Variations on Late Modernity: Spectre of Madness where he develops a novel dialectical theory based on readings of Hegel, Lacan and Žižek. He is also currently editing a volume forthcoming with Routledge entitled Philosophy After Lacan: Politics, Science and Art bringing together reflections by contemporary philosophers inspired by and in dialogue with Lacanian theory. Alireza’s current research focuses on Lacanian theories of psychosis and autism about which he is preparing a monograph. Finally, he is also developing the concept of spectral materialism as the highest guarantee for the safeguarding of modernity in the face of contemporary regressions to the premodern.

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