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

For a psychoanalytic clinical psycho-sociology

June 7, 2021


My commentary on the positional paper aims to contribute to the goal of extending psychoanalysis to an analysis and intervention in the social systems. It is not a question of “applying” psychoanalysis outside the dual clinical context but of identifying the elements that allow it to be used correctly in non-classical clinical contexts. In this perspective, my article revisits Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyze, in which Freud, while demonstrating the potential of psychoanalysis for attaining an understanding of social processes, moves within implicit presuppositions that can result in epistemic and technical obstacles to the very extension of psychoanalysis. In this sense, the article discusses three issues. A first issue is the legitimacy of defining the social in its various components (individual, groups, organizational) as a set of levels made up of unconscious and conscious variables, each endowed with emerging specificities (autonomy) that cannot be reduced to simpler underlying levels. A second issue concerns the fact that analyzing unconscious processes present in social systems, such as identifications, defense mechanisms, desires and fantasies, cannot ignore the complex relationship with organizational aspects (objectives, roles, functions, technologies), i.e., with conscious and socially shared projects. The third issue is the need to historicize, i.e., to interpret the signs of the times, the specificity of the historical moment that determines certain forms of social and cultural life.