Object Relations and Social Relations: The Implications of the Relational Turn in Psychoanalysis

By Cooper, Andrew | International Journal of Psychoanalysis, October 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Object Relations and Social Relations: The Implications of the Relational Turn in Psychoanalysis


Cooper, Andrew, International Journal of Psychoanalysis


Object Relations and Social Relations: The Implications of the Relational Turn in Psychoanalysis edited by Simon Clarke, Herbert Hahn and Paul Hoggett Karnac, London, 2008; 210 pp; £21.99

This book represents an important and positive challenge to mainstream clinical psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. It sits within a long tradition of work, reaching back to Freud himself, concerned with the social engagement of psychoanalysis and the contribution of psychoanalysis to social engagement. Many of the authors are experienced psychoanalytic clinicians, all of them know their theory intimately, and each has a distinctive history or sphere of engagement that informs their thinking on a spectrum encompassing clinical work, research, organizational consultancy, front line welfare and teaching. The collection's epicentre is the innovative programme of work led by Paul Hoggett at the University of the West of England, which is part of a growing network of centres for psychoanalytically informed 'psychosocial studies' in the UK. One point of origin for this work lies in the Psychoanalysis and the Public Sphere conferences of the 1990s, hosted at the University of East London, where psychosocial studies also still flourish. These were marvellously creative events that helped revitalize a socially radical spirit in British psychoanalysis.

What is the intellectual project at the heart of this book? In her chapter on 'Artistic Output as Intersubjective Third', Lynn Froggett explores some practices associated with 'restorative justice' and refers to one of its aims as seeking ''to restore a sense of connection between victim and offender in which both parties acknowledge themselves to belong to the same moral community'' (p. 89). A sustained critique of psychoanalytic practice and theory that overtly or covertly render patient and analyst as members of different 'moral communities' is one organizing theme of the collection. In various ways the 'relational turn' in psychoanalysis is posited as a solution to the tendency of psychoanalysts and psychoanalysis to assume 'master narrative' status for their theories, practices and clinical discourses. Of course, psychotherapy is much more than just a moral or ethical endeavour. The book's project reflects this amply, constantly weaving its arguments from among a variety of experiential and discursive levels of analysis. But is its core critical endeavour valid, or does it to some degree mirror the projective social and clinical dynamics it seeks to identify in the practices and theories of others?

In her discussion of the importance of relational thinking for psychoanalytic research into the formation of personal identity, Wendy Hollway offers a succinct and careful account of the ontological, epistemological and methodological precepts informing relational psychoanalysis, and the manner in which these imply a distinctive clinical, social and political ethics. Her analysis is deepened via detailed extracts from the records of psychoanalytically trained researchers who undertook observations of the mothers of newborn infants who were participants in the research study she led. A number of the papers in this book function as pairs, and Simon Clarke's 'Psycho-social Research: Relating Self, Identity and Otherness' includes a vivid and moving account of psychoanalytic psychosocial research with a complex, conflicted subject (Billy) who evokes correspondingly divided emotional reactions in the researcher. Rooting himself in the self-reflective work of Habermas and the Frankfurt school, Clarke reveals his own powerful and conflicting identifications with Billy, evoking what Karen Izod later describes as the 'babble' of her inner and outer worlds as she tries to make sense of her professional task. In one sense, all this may seem familiar and recognizable from a conventional clinical perspective - a translation into other domains of inquiry of the need to attend to our countertransference if we are to grasp the deep subjectivity of another person, group or social process.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Object Relations and Social Relations: The Implications of the Relational Turn in Psychoanalysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?