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Vol. 1 No. 1 (2021): From Crisis to Desire: Psychoanalysis for an ethical response to current social scenarios

Psychoanalysis and our cultural crisis

  • Jose' Saporta
June 25, 2021


 This paper is a response to Salvatore, Picione, Bochicchio et al’s. (2021) application of psychoanalysis to understand and remediate current socially destructive processes. The authors conceptualize current ant-social tendencies as due to primary process thinking and meaning making brough about by the dominance of affect in the social field. I present some questions and challenges, including: revisions of Freud’s concept of primary and secondary process, the ubiquity of affect links and primary process associations in all social life, the notion that affect is not discharge but is the link to the other and to meaning, a qualitative analysis of prosocial emotions in contrast to the authors’ apparently quantitative and mechanistic analysis, and some alternative psychoanalytic formulations of social problems and of the relationship of the individual and the social. I propose that some destructive social phenomena prevalent today, rather than being manifestations of primary process-affective meaning making, are due to failure of social institutions to cultivate the right emotion in the right measure and failure to cultivate prosocial attitudes, values, and capacities, subject to qualitative analysis.