“Perhaps psychoanalysis survives because it obstinately carries a torch of wild freedom and reverence for the unknowable in a world of rational epistemology and increasingly rigid sociopolitical control. Psychoanalysis does not scream its sociopolitical agenda, waving signs and shouting slogans, but may be a fundamentally political project nonetheless, and one of a subversive nature.”
In her book Psychoanalysis as a Subversive Phenomenon: Social Change, Virtue Ethics, and Analytic Theory (Lexington Books, 2020) Amber Trotter teases out the radical legacy of psychoanalysis. Contrary to some attempts in the field to tone down the disruptive potential of psychoanalysis to make it respectable, she champions psychoanalysis as a force of radical change of the individual and collective psychic functioning. A central question of the book seems to be why psychoanalysis rarely delivers on its subversive promise. How might the discipline need to develop to counter its hypermarginalization and position it in optimal and generative marginality to urgent issues of ethics and politics? Among other pertinent issues, I read the book as a plea for solidarity within the field to help bringing about this development.
Sebastian Thrul is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in training in Germany and Switzerland. He can be reached at [email protected]
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