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Anarchism and Psychoanalysis

Newman, Saul. 2017. Anarchism and Psychoanalysis. In: Nathan Jun, ed. Brill's Companion to Anarchism and Philosophy. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. ISBN 9789004356887 [Book Section]

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Abstract or Description

There is therefore something both impossible and inevitable about the relationship between psychoanalysis and anarchism. Without an understanding of the psyche, its irrational desires and its passionate attachments to authority figures, there can be no coherent theory of political action, let alone a successful revolution. At the same time, psychoanalytic theory poses fundamental questions to the very concept of revolution, highlighting the utopian fantasies and “wish fulfillment” embodied in such notions, and revealing the deeper problem of the inextricable link between revolutionary desire and the position of the Master. Yet, as suggested by the more radical exponents of the psychoanalytic tradition, there is indeed something potentially transformative and liberating—both individually and socio-politically—about psychoanalysis. And, if we can speak of a psychoanalytic anarchism, we can perhaps also speak of an anarchistic psychoanalysis. Yet, as I will show, this would involve a different way of thinking about anarchism, in which the desire for greater autonomy is coupled with an awareness of the pitfalls and dangers awaiting revolutionary projects.
In exploring this unavoidable encounter between anarchism and psychoanalysis, this chapter will mainly confine itself to a discussion of the (post)Freudian tradition, including Reich, Marcuse, and Lacan, as different as they are. While there are no doubt many non-Freudian forms of psychotherapy which might, superficially at least, have more in common with anarchist practices, my contention is that it is the Freudian tradition, with its seemingly hierarchical architecture and discourse, that confronts anarchism with fundamental questions about our own relationship with power and authority. So, rather than this being a comprehensive survey of psychotherapeutic practices and their similarities with anarchism, this chapter will focus on specific areas of theoretical controversy in order to test anarchism at its limits.

Item Type:

Book Section

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Politics > Research Unit in Contemporary Political Theory (RUCPT)

Dates:

DateEvent
15 August 2015Accepted
1 October 2017Published

Item ID:

19401

Date Deposited:

24 Jan 2017 17:11

Last Modified:

01 Dec 2019 02:26

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/19401

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