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The Real

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The Real is a term used by the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan in his theory of psychic structures. For Lacan, the Real is the irreducible surplus of the 'outside world' that resists being turned into language (as the Symbolic) or into spatial representation (as the Imaginary).

The Real, in Lacanian terms, is by definition inaccessible. It is to be contrasted with reality, a field heavily structured by Imaginary identifications overlaid by Symbolic signifying chains.

The later thought of Lacan distinguishes between a first-order Real (that which precedes the advent of the Symbolic), and a Second-Order Real that is not "outside of" or "underlying" the Symbolic Order but is in fact a structural feature of the Symbolic's inherent incompleteness or lack.

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