The Real (229 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Note

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  • The Literary Encyclopedia. Volume : WORLD HISTORY AND IDEAS: A CROSS-CULTURAL VOLUME.


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The Real is a psychoanalytic term used as one of Jacques Lacan’s three registers of being (Imaginary, Symbolic and Real) and in his early theory stands for that which lies outside the Symbolic (our systems of signification). The Real is inhabited by the infant before it enters the Mirror Stage and is characterised by a sense of completeness: here there is no need that cannot be satisfied and the infant is not aware of any distinction between itself and the objects that satisfy its needs, but it is also wracked by such drives as hunger which direct desire towards objects which might satisfy it – the breast, the mother. The Real is given up in the Mirror Stage when the infant learns to accept symbols and images as stand-ins for both its o…

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Editors. "The Real". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 07 March 2004
[, accessed 20 April 2018.]

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  1. Psychoanalysis

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