He reiterated and enlightened Sigmund Freud's findings. In opposition to the dominating anglo-american ego-psychologists of his time the focus of his work was the powerlessness of the ego in relation to the unconscious. After having obtained a medical degree in psychiatry he settled in Paris, where he worked as a psychoanalyst, primarily with patients suffering from various forms of psychoses.
Lacan argued that the psychoanalytic movement towards understanding the ego as an active and dominating force in the self was a misinterpretation of the Freudian roots. Lacan stated that the self remained in eternal internal conflict and that only extensive self-deceit made the situation bearable.
Lacan also initiated the idea of imaginary, symbolic and the Real which he explained the three aspects of human psychic structure. Through the interaction between the triad relationship, Lacan revised Freudian orthodoxical ideas about a stable psychic reality. The Imaginary, the pre-linguistic aspect, formulates human primitive self-knowledge while the symbolic, the linguistic collaboration, generates a community-wide reflection of the primitive self-knowledge and creates the very first set of rules that govern behavior. The Real is a very difficult concept which Lacan in his later years worked to present in a structured, set-theory fashion, as mathemes.
Although Lacan has joined Freud and Melanie Klein as one of the three major figures in the history of psychoanalysis, his most significant contributions were not made in the traditional form of books and journal articles, but through seminar lectures. The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, conducted over a period of almost two decades, was transcribed by others and represents the main body of his thinking. Most scholars suggest that the Seminars are also more intellectually accessible than his published collection of writings, entitled Ecrits.