(inversion) Freud uses the term ‘inversion’ to designate homosexuality, the idea being
that homosexuality is the inverse of heterosexuality. Lacan uses the term in this sense too
in his early works (Lacan, 1938:109).
However, in Lacan’s post-war works the term is used in quite a different sense.
Inversion then usually refers to a characteristic of the SPECULAR IMAGE; what appears
on one side of the real body appears on the other side of the image of the body reflected
in the mirror (see Lacan, 1951b:15). By extension, inversion becomes a quality of all
imaginary phenomena, such as TRANSITIVISM. Thus in schema L, the imaginary is
represented as a barrier blocking the discourse of the Other, causing this discourse to
arrive at the subject in an inverted form. Hence Lacan’s definition of analytic
communication in which the sender receives his own message in an inverted form.
In 1957, both senses of the term are brought together in Lacan’s discussion of
Leonardo da Vinci. Taking up Freud’s argument about Leonardo’s homosexuality (Freud,
1910c), Lacan goes on to argue that Leonardo’s specular identification was highly
unusual in that it resulted in an inversion of the positions (on schema L) of the ego and
the little other (S4, 433–4).