The Study of Desire: A Lacanian Perspective

Document Type : Original Article


Shahid Beheshti University


Jacques Lacan made some important contributions in developing the meaning of the unconscious and in formulating the concept of desire under the light of structuralism. In analyzing the complexity of desire, Lacan refers to it as a state of loss. The object of this paper is to characterize certain features of Lacanian desire through its analysis. The most important feature of desire is that it is structural. Language alienates the subject as it never represents the subject’s identity and causes a division inside the subject: a split between the conscious and the unconscious. This rupture transforms the original lack into desire, an absolute condition that can be neither formulated nor fulfilled. The other feature of desire is that it is distinct from need and demand. Furthermore desire is not sexual and is metonymic in its representation of want-to-be. As Lacan’s analysis of desire is discussed in his different seminars, the object of this paper is first to study it in the context of contemporary literary theory and then characterize its main features.  Finally I would argue that such a characterization of desire refutes the state of opposition that Plato’s theory of desire formulates.