Understanding the Identity formation of addiction via Lacan

Extensive research of the lectures of Jacques Lacan has assisted my writing in the discipline of literary criticism in the fragmented representation of addiction in contemporary literature.

Thus far, the most poignant connections between addiction-based lifestyles and Lacan’s psychoanalysis is the idea of identity reformation and recognition coagulating via the unconscious nature that is substance-dependence. A “New Mirror” stage so-to-speak is constructed by the individual’s identity superimposed by the unconscious language of their need for habitual substance abuse.

The “New Mirror” stage (or possibly ‘latent’) allows readers to explore addiction lifestyles as an experience or entity that forces both the addict and the addict’s caregivers to go through identity transformations dictated by the unconscious nature of their relationship.

What is still in need of thorough exploration is how the addict fits into Lacan’s idea of the symbolic order. And how does this relationship to language influence the addict’s desire for wholeness and completion via the impossibility of closure or “recovery.” Scott Heim’s novel We Disappear mobilizes Lacan’s structure of psychoanalysis with the narrator’s relationship to substance abuse and his mother.


Author Scott Heim has written in response to all the questions I asked him and his answers are more than compelling. I am still figuring ways in which to navigate his responses in relation to my research considering I write within the discourse of “death of the author” in which an author releases a text to a public consciousness and therefore is no longer considered whole with the text.

It is even more pressing to figure out how to consider Scott Heim’s responses when he has admitted to me that this novel is infused with autobiographic experience – the addiction.