Does Law Need an Analyst? Prospects for Lacanian Psychoanalysis in Law

26 Pages Posted: 31 Jan 2014 Last revised: 5 Jun 2014

Date Written: July 1, 1997


The debate continues over the merits of French psychoanalytic theorist Jacques Lacan - was he a "charlatan" or an "intellectual hero?" Enter David Caudill's book, Lacan and the Subject of Law: Toward a Psychoanalytic Critical Legal Theory. In providing practical applications of Lacan to the law, the book will no doubt be seen as an important contribution in resolving the debate. Caudill demonstrates how Lacan's psychoanalytic theory can illuminate our understanding of law and public discourse in new and important ways. To be sure, Caudill's project demonstrates that law needs an analyst. From contract interpretation to the role of religion in politics, Caudill employs Lacanian psychoanalysis not only to understand but to mediate the "culture wars" and some current controversies in law and public policy. This review has four goals: (1) after discussing difficulties in applying Lacan, to introduce Lacanian theory and its applications to law; (2) to ascertain whether Lacan is consistent with current psychological theory and research; (3) to place the theory and the book in the context of ongoing controversies in the "culture wars" and postmodern/critical legal studies; and (4) to evaluate the prospects for Lacanian psychoanalysis in law.

Keywords: Lacan, Freud, Caudill, Psychoanalytic Theory, Psychoanalysis and law, law and psychology, law and psychiatry, law and society, critical theory

Suggested Citation

Redding, Richard E., Does Law Need an Analyst? Prospects for Lacanian Psychoanalysis in Law (July 1, 1997). Washington and Lee Law Review, Vol. 54, pp. 1119-1685, 1997, Available at SSRN:

Richard E. Redding (Contact Author)

Chapman University ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States
714-628-2688 (Phone)
714-628-2564 (Fax)

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