I examine the Lacanian concept of misrecognition (méconnaissance) by comparing it with the Sartrean notion of bad faith (mauvaise foi). I focus on Jacques Lacan's 1946 article ‘Presentation on Psychical Causality’ in which Lacan criticises organicist psychology for misrecognising the cause of madness to be essentially organic and consequently failing to distinguish between ‘mad’ and ‘true’ ideas. I argue that bad faith, discussed by Jean-Paul Sartre in Being and Nothingness in 1943—and referred to six times in the Écrits by Lacan—has essential similarities with misrecognition in the Lacanian sense. By juxtaposing these concepts, I argue that this early Lacanian text is marked by an existentialist attitude which views human reality—and madness—as meaningful and grounded in being.
Constance De Meulder is a PhD student at the University of Radboud (the Netherlands). She has a master's in both philosophy and clinical psychology from Ghent University (Belgium) and has a private practice as psychologist. Her research interests focus on Jacques Lacan, Jean-Paul Sartre, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, psychoanalysis, and philosophy.