What is a Cartel?
A Cartel is the original mode of working suggested to psychoanalysts and those who want to study psychoanalysis. It is a working group that relies on several organising principles that were defined by Jacques Lacan and that take each one’s specific relationship to knowledge into account, which he can elaborate when it is a matter of unconscious causality.

Four people choose each other to work
For the creation of a cartel Lacan suggested three people as a minimum, five maximum, with four being the ‘right measure’. In 1980 he specified the number four. It is the reference number for the majority of cartels today. Meetings happen at a rhythm that is decided between the cartel members, called ‘cartelisands’.

The ‘Plus-One’
The ‘Plus-One’ is chosen by the cartelisands and according to Jacques Lacan is the person “in charge of selection, discussion and the outcome to be accorded the efforts of each” (Foundation Act of the Ecole Freudienne de Paris, of the 21st June 1964). His function is crucial to support the work of each cartelisand with tact, to face difficulties and to maintain a distance between knowledge and truth.

The theme of Work
The creation of a cartel gives each one the opportunity to choose a theme of work: the reading of a seminar, the elaboration of a concept or of a case, the connection between psychoanalysis and other fields, etc. To each person’s theme a common theme is added that becomes the title of the cartel.

Everyone’s own Product
The work carried out does not lead to a collective product on a knowledge taken from the group. It is rather a matter for each one, according to the moment of his relation to psychoanalysis, to emit what could be noted of what was being able to be modified in his relation to analytic knowledge.

A cartel cannot last longer than one or two years. Its necessary conclusion allows the avoidance of noticeable inertia in working groups that become eternal and hinder the appearance of a new knowledge for the subject. The scansion is produced as an event of the cartel that concludes.


Lacan invented this device as part of his response to “group effects” and aiming at a way of grouping and working in groups that would not be structured according to the logic of the army or the church as described by Freud in his “Group Psychology“: all members of the group putting the same object in the place of the Ego Ideal, narcissistically identified among themselves and following one. The notion of a leader is incompatible with the logic of a Cartel.

Anyone with an interest in Lacanian Psychoanalysis may get involved in Cartel work. There are no requirements (i.e memberships, qualifications, clinical practice) other than wanting to inscribe one’s singular relationship to Psychoanalysis within the framework of the structure described above, that is, to find, interrogate and follow one’s own trait in the reading of the texts.

If you are interested in forming / joining a Cartel in Ireland, please contact:
Linda Clarke Responsible for Cartels



Further Reading on Cartels

Lacan’s Founding Act from 1964, which demonstrates the centrality and importance of cartels in his

vision of a school of psychoanalysis.

The Cartel in Lacan’s School by Philippe Lacadée

Presentation at the SLP Congress in Milan, by Dominique Holvoet

Some Points and Ideas Drawn from Frank Rollier’s “Le Cartel. A l’Envers de la Segregation“, Quart

d’heur des cartels, 2015, Lausanne. Presented by Rik Loose at the ICLO Inter-Cartel Day 2015

Past cartel work within the NLS

Report on the Intercartel towards Ghent [2014]


ICLO-NLS Lacanian Psychoanalysis in Ireland