Does psychoanalysis have anything to say to critical psychology?

Authored by: Kareen Ror Malone , Emaline Friedman

Handbook of Critical Psychology

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  April  2015

Print ISBN: 9781848722187
eBook ISBN: 9781315726526
Adobe ISBN: 9781317537182


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For those with a critical psychological eye, one can make the case that psychoanalysis has been as radical in its challenge to the ‘psy-disciplines’ as current critical psychology (Canguilhem 1968/1995; De Vos 2011; Lacan 2006). Nevertheless, psychoanalysis has been complicit in psychology’s seductive execution (Lacan 2006). Psychoanalysis is worrisome when it draws upon its psychiatric and psychological companions in theoretical alliance – psychoanalysis as a mental health profession (e.g. Wagner 2005). Usually, in this case, psychoanalysis understands itself as based in ‘needs’ that exist in the nether lands between biology and culture; such needs have been thwarted in a child’s developmental trajectory, and psychoanalysis possesses particular tools to address such deficiencies (see Altman 2013). This is not to say that such psychoanalytic work does not offer significantly different angles on community transformation (e.g. Wagner 2013). Rather, an examination of psychoanalytic theory, inextricable from the question of praxis, calls upon one to consider the layers of criticality that can be mined from psychoanalysis; is it an applied knowledge or a different sort of knowledge and, in both cases, what is its status within the critical psychological field?

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