Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 330–349 | Cite as

The act reconsidered: Actcidental Antigone and the new wounded

  • Louis MatheouEmail author
Original Article


This paper defends a Lacanian reading of political subjectivity apropos trauma against Catherine Malabou’s neurobiological critique of psychoanalysis. Malabou claims that our political era is increasingly characterised by the new wounded – post-traumatic subjects who are clinically and theoretically beyond psychoanalysis. Through a retelling of Sophocles’ Antigone using a novel taxonomy of Lacan’s concept of the act, a new type of Lacanian subject is revealed that refutes Malabou to ensure the continuing relevance of the psychoanalytic lens on contemporary politics.


Lacan act actcident Žižek Malabou 


  1. Badiou, A. (1988/2006) Being and Event. Translated by O. Feltham. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  2. Butler, R. (2014) The Žižek Dictionary. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Dawkins, D. (2015) Death Drive., accessed 4 October 2016.
  4. Evans, D. (2006) An Introductory Dictionary of Lacanian Psychoanalysis. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  5. Fink, B. (1997) A Clinical Introduction to Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Theory and Technique. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Freud, S. (1914/1957) On Narcissism: An Introduction. Standard Edition 14. London: Hogarth Press, pp. 73–102.Google Scholar
  7. Glynos, J. (2000) Thinking the ethics of the political in the context of a postfoundational world: From an ethics of desire to an ethics of the drive. Theory & Event 4(4)., accessed 19 February 2017.
  8. Grigg, R. (2008) Lacan, Language, and Philosophy. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hook, D. (2016) Of symbolic mortification and ‘undead life’: Slavoj Žižek on the death drive. Psychoanalysis and History 18(2): 221–256. Scholar
  10. Johnston, A. (2009) Badiou, Žižek, and Political Transformations. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lacan, J. (1966–1967) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XIV: The Logic of Phantasy, 19661967. Translated by C. Gallagher., accessed 17 June 2016.
  12. Lacan, J. (1967–1968) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XV: The Psychoanalytic Act. Translated by C. Gallagher., accessed 12 June 2016.
  13. Lacan, J. (1969) Summary of the Seminar of 19671968., accessed 24 June 2016.
  14. Lacan, J. (1973/1978) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XI: The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis. Translated by A. Sheridan. London: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  15. Lacan, J. (1978/1991) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book II: The Ego in Freud’s Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 19541955. Translated by S. Tomaselli, with notes by John Forrester. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  16. Lacan, J. (1986/1992) The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book VII: The Ethics of Psychoanalysis, 19591960. Translated by D. Porter. London: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  17. Lacan, J. (1990) Television. Translated by D. Hollier, R. Krauss and A. Michelson. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  18. Lacan, J. (1991/2007) The Other Side of Psychoanalysis: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVII. Translated by R. Grigg. New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  19. Lacan, J. (2004/2014) Anxiety: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book X, 19623. 2nd ed. Cambridge, MA: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  20. Lacan, J. (2005/2016) The Sinthome: The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XXIII, 19751976. Translated by A.R. Price. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  21. Malabou, C. (2012a) Ontology of the Accident. Translated by C. Shread. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  22. Malabou, C. (2012b) The New Wounded. Translated by S. Miller. New York: Fordham University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Malabou, C. (2013) Telemorphosis: Theory in the Era of Climate Change, Vol. 1.–telemorphosis-theory-in-the-era-of-climate-change-vol-1?rgn=div1;view=fulltext, accessed 25 December 2016.
  24. McGowan, T. (2010) Subject of the event, subject of the act: The difference between Badiou’s and Žižek’s systems of philosophy. Subjectivity 3(1): 7–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Melville, H. (1952) Selected Writings of Herman Melville. 1st ed. New York: Modern Library.Google Scholar
  26. Neill, C. (2003) Without Ground: Lacanian Ethics and the Assumption of Democracy. PhD Thesis, Manchester Metropolitan University.Google Scholar
  27. Neill, C. (2011) Lacanian Ethics and the Assumption of Subjectivity. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Parker, I. and Pavón Cuéllar, D. (2014) Lacan, Discourse, Event. 1st ed. Hove: Routledge.Google Scholar
  29. Pluth, E. (2007) Signifiers and Acts. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  30. Rothenberg, M. (2010) The Excessive Subject. 1st ed. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  31. Rowan, A. (2016) The Psychoanalytic Act as Act and Orientation. Lacanian Compass., accessed 15 June 2016.
  32. Ruti, M. (2012) Psychoanalytic Interventions: Singularity of Being: Lacan and the Immortal Within. New York: Fordham University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Sophocles. (2011) Sophocles’ Antigone: A New Translation. Translated by D. J. Rayor. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  34. Stavrakakis, Y. (2010) On acts, pure and impure. International Journal of Žižek Studies 4(2): pp. 1–28.Google Scholar
  35. Stavrakakis, Y. (2011) The radical act: Towards a spatial critique. Planning Theory 10(4): 301–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. The Usual Suspects. (1995) (dir. B. Singer) USA: MGM Studios.Google Scholar
  37. Verhaeghe, P. (1999) Causation and destitution of a pre-ontological non-entity: On the Lacanian subject. In: D. Nobus (ed.) Key Concepts in Lacanian Psychoanalysis. 1st ed. New York: Other Press.Google Scholar
  38. Žižek, S. (1998) From ‘passionate attachments’ to dis-identification. UMBR(a)., accessed 21 June 2016.
  39. Žižek, S. (1999) The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  40. Žižek, S. (2001a) Did Somebody Say Totalitarianism? Five Interventions in the (Mis)use of a Notion. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  41. Žižek, S. (2001b) Enjoy Your Symptom! New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Žižek, S. (2002) For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  43. Žižek, S. (2008) Descartes and the post-traumatic subject. Filozofski Vestnik 29(2): 9–29.Google Scholar
  44. Žižek, S. (2009a) An answer to two questions. In: A. Johnston (ed.) Badiou, Žižek, and Political Transformations. Evanston, IL.: Northwestern University Press, pp. 174–230.Google Scholar
  45. Žižek, S. (2009b) The Parallax View. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  46. Žižek, S. (2011) Class struggle or postmodernism? Yes, please! In: J. Butler, E. Laclau and S. Žižek (eds.) Contingency, Hegemony, Universality. 1st ed. London: Verso, pp. 90–135.Google Scholar
  47. Žižek, S. (2014) Event. London: Penguin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychosocial StudiesBirkbeck, University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations