The Uncertainty of Communication as Revealed by Psychoanalysis

Garnet C. Butchart, University of South Florida


This article puts the certainty of communication into question by showing how self- identity is undermined by self-difference in language and how conscious communication is destabilized by unconscious discourse. Reviewed are some of the basic insights of Lacanian psychoanalysis into how communication is not simply a guaranteed outcome of conscious intentions, but is part of an experience of being unsettled by the semiotic and phenomenological conditions of its possibility. Rather than get tangled in a technical discussion about the workings of the unconscious, the objective of this discussion is to stimulate and to broaden conversation about the significance of Lacanian psychoanalysis to contemporary thought of communication.