1. In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, the traumatic discovery of sexual difference in the realization that the mother lacks a penis, inducing castration anxiety in boys.
2. In Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, the child's sense of loss of an illusory wholeness of being on entering the symbolic order. For Lacan, lack is also the origin of desire. The missing signifier is constitutive of the subject.
3. In poststructuralism, the notion of the incompleteness of all signifying systems.
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