Psychoanalysis in Contexts: Paths between Theory and Modern Culture

Psychoanalysis in Contexts: Paths between Theory and Modern Culture

Psychoanalysis in Contexts: Paths between Theory and Modern Culture

Psychoanalysis in Contexts: Paths between Theory and Modern Culture

Synopsis

During the last decade and a half there have been dramatic changes in psychoanalytic theory, as well as in cultural, social and political theory. Psychoanalysis in Contexts examines these changes and explores the relationship between psychoanalysis and theory.The volume brings together leading scholars and practitioners in psychoanalysis to develop a unique rethinking of the relations between subjectivity and inter-subjectivity, sexual difference and gender power, and unconscious desire and political change.Psychoanalysis in Contexts creates a dialogue between different psychoanalytic approaches to the study of subjectivity, social action and modern societies. It will be essential reading for everyone interested in the future direction of psychoanalytic and cultural theory.

Excerpt

During the last decade and a half, psychoanalytic theory has undergone dramatic changes. the Freudian theoretical tradition has become revitalized and examined with new interest; the predominance of the post-structural psychoanalytic approach developed by Lacan has come under fire in many quarters of the social sciences; and approaches in the object-relational school, especially the Kleinian, have diversified and in turn given rise to a plurality of methodological positions. Among other problems, the following issues have emerged as central in contemporary psychoanalytic debate: the status of the unconscious, especially as concerns the nature of human subjectivity; the connection between the pre-Oedipal and Oedipal phases in the constitution of identity; the structure of sexual and gender difference; and the relationship between psychical creation on the one hand and imaginary and symbolic experience on the other.

At the same time, there has been a profound reappraisal of the grand schemas of contemporary cultural, social and political theory. the 1970s and 1980s witnessed important critical evaluations of the sweeping, universal pretensions of discourses such as humanism, liberalism and Marxism. Post-structuralist and postmodernist critics raised serious issues about the basic assumptions of modern theory, opting for the local, specific and particular over the general and universal (which were considered anxiety-provoking). These developments accompanied the emergence of notions of the dissolution of subjectivity, of identity, of human action and agency. in its place there appeared a baffling variety of critical terms—power, discourse, difference, the text—which were subsequently deployed in the contemporary debates on modernity and postmodernism.

The essays contained in this volume represent an attempt to examine these important changes taking place in psychoanalysis and social-theoretical discourse over recent years. Many of the essays in Psychoanalysis in Contexts assess the relevance and importance of psychoanalysis as concerns the proliferation of approaches in social-theoretical thinking, as well as exploring the relationship of psychoanalysis to theory per se. New directions in psychoanalytic thinking that have previously been little known or neglected are introduced, including the work of such authors as Castoriadis and Laplanche. Older traditions of psychoanalysis, such as Freudian and object-relational approaches, are examined from new and/or different theoretical perspectives. Moreover, theoretical approaches which have

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