A body without a head

Lacan’s understanding of body and its application


  • Ali Chavoshian Wright Institute, Berkeley
  • Sophia Park Holy Names University




Lacan's body theory, the body of the Real, desire of the Other, the body of women and laborers, Late capitalism, women's sexual position, the capitalist discourse, social analysis, women's multivalent identities, Surplus Jouissance


Along with the recent development of various theories of the body, Lacan’s body theory aligns with postmodern thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, who consider the body to be social and not biological. Lacan emphasizes the body for the Real, the passive condition of the body in terms of formation, identity, and understanding. This condition of the body is further evident in the condition of bodies of women and laborers under patriarchy and capitalism, respectively. Lacan’s ‘not all’ position, which is envisioned in the logical square diagram, allows women a way to question the system of patriarchy and opens up alternative sexual identities. Lacan’s approach to feminine sexuality, when applied to women’s spirituality, emphasizes multiple narratives of body, gender roles, and sexualities. In the social discernment and analyses of liberation theology, the capitalist discourse can be applied as a tool to understand how people are manipulated by late capitalist society without being aware of it. Lacan’s theory of a ‘body without a head’ reflects the current condition of the human body, existing in a state of lack, but including possibilities for transforming society.

Author Biographies

Ali Chavoshian, Wright Institute, Berkeley

Ali Chavoshian, PhD is a member and faculty of the San Francisco Lacanian School of Psychoanalysis and a clinical psychologist, practicing in Berkeley, California. Also, he is a clinical faculty at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California, serving as a clinical supervisor for graduate students. He served as the Academic Dean and Professor in the Graduate School of Psychology at the New College of California in San Francisco. Since 1990, he has been a visiting professor at the Guilan School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry, Rasht, Iran. His research is about Lacanian discourse from clinical and sociopolitical perspectives.

Sophia Park, Holy Names University

Sophia Park, SNJM, PhD is an associate professor in religious studies and philosophy at Holy Names University in California. Her academic interest is body discourse in interdisciplinary approach and research on interculturality, spirituality, and global experiences. She has published many books, including Dislocation as Experience, Border Crossing Spirituality, Interreligious Pedagogy, and Conversations at the Well: Emerging Religious Life in the 21st Century Global World. Also, she has published book chapters and articles, including ‘Listening Not in Spiritual Direction: A Lacanian Inkling’, in Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction with Dr. Ali Chavoshian.


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How to Cite

Chavoshian, A. ., & Park, S. (2021). A body without a head: Lacan’s understanding of body and its application. Body and Religion, 4(1), 45–64. https://doi.org/10.1558/bar.17782