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Palgrave Macmillan

The Autistic Subject

On the Threshold of Language

  • Book
  • © 2020


  • With an Introduction by Jean-Claude Maleval
  • Offers a novel understanding of autism based on Lacanian theory
  • Examines autistic subjectivity as a unique mode of being
  • Presents an emerging field of research to an Anglophone audience for the first time

Part of the book series: The Palgrave Lacan Series (PALS)

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Table of contents (8 chapters)

  1. Subjectivity Negativity

  2. Part II

  3. Part III


About this book

This book presents a theory of autistic subjectivity from a Lacanian psychoanalytic perspective. Dr. Brenner describes autism as a singular mode of being that is fundamentally linked to one’s identity and basic practices of existence, offering a rigorous alternative to treating autism as a mental or physical disorder. Drawing on Freud and Lacan’s psychoanalytic understanding of the subject, Brenner outlines the unique features of the autistic subjective structure and provides a comprehensive synthesis of contemporary work on the psychoanalysis of autism. 

The book examines research by theorists including Jean-Claude Maleval, Éric Laurent, Rosine and Robert Lefort that has been largely unavailable to Anglophone audiences until now. In this book autism is posited to be a singular subjective structure not reducible to neurosis or psychosis. In accordance with the Lacanian approach, autism is examined with detailed attention to the subject’s use of language, culminating in Brenner’s “autistic linguistic spectrum.” A compelling read for students and scholars of psychoanalysis and autism researchers and clinicians.


“Contemporary studies of autism strongly rely on cognitive and neurobiological approaches. This comprehensive and comprehensible book demonstrates that Lacanian psychoanalysis provides a viable alternative. Brenner discusses multiple works that are only available in French, thus opening up perspectives that are not well understood in the English-speaking world.”
(Stijn Vanheule, author of The Subject of Psychosis: A Lacanian Perspective (2011))

“It is no exaggeration to say that The Autistic Subject is a groundbreaking contribution to the study of autism. Brenner’s clear and well-written account, based on Lacan, is both refreshingly new and creatively original.”

(Russell Grigg, author of Lacan, Language, and Philosophy (2009))

Authors and Affiliations

  • Institute for Philosophy, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany

    Leon S. Brenner

About the author

Leon S. Brenner is a research fellow at the University of Potsdam, Institute for Philosophy, Germany. His fields of interest include Lacanian psychoanalysis, philosophy of mind, contemporary French philosophy and autism research.

Bibliographic Information

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