Psychoanalysis and the Question on Social Change

An issue of: differences

Psychoanalysis and the Question on Social Change
Journal Issue Volume 20, Number 1 Published: 2009 An issue of differences
Contributors to this issue of differences challenge the notion that psychoanalysis should not be used for social critique because of its perceived inability to account for social change. Since psychoanalysis primarily works to navigate the human unconscious, some scholars assert that it can do little for social critique but expose a steadfast psychic determinism: the belief that all human phenomena are inevitably determined by the consequences of the past. Relying on both historical and theoretical approaches to contest this perception, contributors explore how psychoanalysis can be used to address various dynamic processes in society.
One essay looks at Anna Freud’s role in the institutionalization of psychoanalytic treatment to show the relevance of psychoanalysis to the democratic political sphere. Another essay explores the writings of Sigmund Freud and Melanie Klein to account for the desensitization of people to the deaths of others in wartime. Using psychoanalysis, one contributor studies a postindustrial society’s anxiety over the notion of rational choice. Yet another contributor argues that, far from being ahistorical, Lacanian psychoanalysis and Derridian deconstruction engage with history in largely unrecognized ways.

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1. Demanding the Impossible: Desire and Social Change–Tracy McNulty

2. Derrida and Lacan: An Impossible Friendship?–Charles Shepherdson

3. Psychoanalysis without Symptoms–Anne Anlin Cheng

4. "What Does Death Represent to the Individual?" Psychoanalysis and Wartime–Lyndsey Stonebridge

5. A Wider Social Stage–Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg

6. Society of Choice–Renata Salecl

7. Disposability–Ranjana Khanna

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