A vanishing mediator is a concept that exists to mediate between two opposing ideas, as a transition occurs between them. At the point where one idea has been replaced by the other, and the concept is no longer required, the mediator vanishes.[1] In terms of Hegelian dialectics, the conflict between thesis and antithesis is resolved by a synthesis of the two ideas, although the synthesis represents the final solution, whereupon the mediator vanishes.

In terms of psychoanalytic theory, when someone is caught in a dilemma they experience Hysteria. The conceptual deadlock, exists until the resulting Hysteric breakdown precipitates some kind of resolution, therefore the Hysteria is a vanishing mediator in this case.[2]

In terms of political history, it refers to social movements, which operate in a particular way to influence politics, until they either are forgotten or change their purpose.[3]

It is a concept that was originally described by Fredric Jameson:- In The Ideologies of Theory[4], a two volume compilation of his essays, Jameson first defines the instance of textual unconscious outlined by Jacques Lacan, before the general idea of a vanishing mediator.[5] Since, this concept has been adopted by Žižek in "For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political factor", where he uses it in a political sense, similar to Marx's Analysis of Revolution[1].


  1. 1.0 1.1 Slavoj Zizek - Key Ideas
  2. Hysteria and interpellation
  3. Zizek and us.
  4. Jameson, Fredric (1988). The ideologies of theory: essays 1971-1986. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 08-166-157-64. 
  5. Mellard, James M. (2006). "Chapter 1. From Freud to Jacques Lacan and the Textual Unconscious". Beyond Lacan (Suny Series in Psychoanalysis and Culture). Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press. ISBN 07-914-690-34. 

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