Freud prophesied in 1914 that the final decisive battle’ for psychoanalysis would take place where the greatest resistance [had] been displayed.’ Wary of America’s too easy acceptance, he suspected a dilution and distortion of his most vital and therefore most unacceptable doctrines. Among Western countries, France may well be the one that resisted Freud the longest. Yet quite suddenly, in the late 1960s, France was seized by an infatuation with Freudianism.’ By the end of that decade, France had more than a psychoanalytic movement: it had a widespread and deeply rooted psychoanalytic culture. At the heart of this development was Jacques Lacan’s reconstruction of Freudian theory, a reinvention’ of psychoanalysis that resonated with French culture in the aftermath of the uprisings of 1968.
While, in America, psychoanalysis has become increasingly identified with an essentially conservative medical establishment, the French rediscovery of Freud, in a dramatic enactment of Freud’s prophesy, became associated with the most radical elements of French philosophical and political life. The story of Lacan, and why his work so profoundly influenced the French psyche, is told clearly and unerringly by Sherry Turkle in this groundbreaking work.
Already acclaimed as an absolutely indispensable contribution to the history of psychoanalysis,’ this second edition of PSYCHOANALYTIC POLITICS contains two illuminating new additions. The preface explicates Lacan’s impact on the French by laying out a theory of the conditions for the dissemination and acceptance of a set of philosophical positions by a culture. The final chapter, Dynasty 1991, provides a fascinating portrayal of the last years of Lacan’s life, the intrigue and power struggles that resulted in the break-up of the Freudian School he founded, and the events which unfolded in the years following his death in 1981.
The heart of the book is Sherry Turkle’s first-hand account of the psychoanalytic culture that developed in France–as a politicized, Gallicized, and poeticized Freudianism, deeply marked by the work of Jacques Lacan. The clearest introduction in English to Lacan’s teaching, the work explores how cultures appropriate theories of mind. It is an intimate sociology of how ideas come to connect with individuals. Providing an inner history’ of the sciences of the mind, this book will be invaluable reading for anyone with an interest in psychoanalysis, history, social theory, communications, film theory, and contemporary literary criticism.