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    Psychosocial studies with psychoanalysis

    Frosh, Stephen (2019) Psychosocial studies with psychoanalysis. Journal of Psychosocial Studies 12 (1-2), pp. 101-114. ISSN 1478-6737.

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    Psychosocial studies is methodologically and theoretically diverse, drawing on a wide range of intellectual resources. However, psychoanalysis has often taken a privileged position within this diversity, because of its well-developed conceptual vocabulary that can be put to use to theorise the psychosocial subject. Its practices have become a model for some aspects of psychosocial work, especially in relation to its focus on intense study of individuals, its explicit engagement with ethical relations, and its traversing of disciplinary boundaries across the arts, humanities and social sciences. On the other hand, this possible hegemony of psychoanalytic discourse produces tensions with some other ‘trans’ components of the psychosocial studies enterprise such as postcolonial and queer studies. This ‘dispute’ also governs debates about the type of psychoanalysis that might be most appropriate for psychosocial studies. The debate about the place of psychoanalysis in psychosocial studies is radically different from the longstanding question of the scientific status of psychoanalysis; here, the issue is not whether psychoanalysis is ‘objective’ and empirically established, but rather whether and how it can be deployed as an ethical practice in the context of an emergent area of socially progressive critical research. This article begins with a brief description of some principles of psychosocial thinking, including its transdisciplinarity and criticality and its interest in ethics and in reflexivity. It then explores the place of psychoanalysis in this genealogy, presenting the case for psychoanalysis’ continuing contribution to the development of psychosocial studies. It is argued that this case is a strong one, but that the critique of psychoanalysis from the discursive, postcolonial, feminist and queer perspectives that are also found in psychosocial studies is important. The claim will be made that the engagement between psychoanalysis and its psychosocial critics is fundamentally productive. Even though it generates real tensions, these tensions are necessary and significant, reflecting genuine struggles over how best to understand the socially constructed human subject.


    Item Type: Article
    Additional Information: This is a post-peer-review, pre-copy edited version of the article. The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at the link above.
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): psychosocial studies; psychoanalysis; transdisciplinarity; criticality, ethics; reflexivity
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Depositing User: Stephen Frosh
    Date Deposited: 29 Mar 2019 09:27
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:50


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