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Psychoanalysis and psychotherapy

  1. Jul 17, 2003 #1
    i have recently been studying psychoanalysis and psychotherapy (specifically the writtings of a Frida Fromm-Reichmann and Frued), but i get the impression that these ideas are a little out dated. can anyone point me in the right direction? any refrences? (book recommendations would be wonderful). thank you... all responces are appreciated.

    p.s.: i feel this is the proper forum for this, seeing as how it is not really a philosophy, but a well defined and practiced science, but move it if you must.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2003
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 17, 2003 #2
    Lacan is all the rage now.
  4. Jul 23, 2003 #3

    Hi, welcome to the strange group of people who call themselves psychoanalysts and worry about the hidden libidinal consequences of calling oneself a Freudian. It's always fine to see new people be interested in psychoanalysis.

    As you may well know, psychoanalysis is very much a "scholastic" discipline, with many different schools, clans, cliques and clubs. Freudianism is not outdated, but it would be good to see it in its context.

    I just want to give you some pointers as to where to begin to study it.
    My advise to you is to start reading Freud thoroughly, and only once. (The Interpretation of Dreams, the clinical case studies, and the theoretical works--the cultural works are crucial too, but you may leave them aside for a while). After that, you may immediately want to skip all later Freudian schools (Kleinians, Lacianians, etc...) and directly go to the most basic critique of freudianism and lacanianism.

    This critique brings you to the works of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guatarri, two famous french philosophers-psychoanalysts-scientists.
    Their most accessible work is the two volume "Capitalism and Schizophrenia", of which part one, the "Anti-Oedipus", is the most radical critique of psychoanalysis (and the humanities) ever written.

    The works are interesting, because they may lead you to understand Freud in his (cultural and historical) context. They may also change your world.

    After that, I think it is easier to relativize the importance of Freud today. Maybe you end up on an even more awkward but exciting track of French contemporary philosophy, which maintains a steady diologue with psychoanalysis.

    However, if your goal is to become a real therapist, you could opt to spend your time studying Freuds own works much deeper. As you know, you have to take an exam and an "initiation" by a recognized Freudian to become a practising psychoanalyst of the International School.

    However, Deleuze may put you before a dilemma.

    I hope you read his works!


  5. Jul 25, 2003 #4
    A Thousand Plateaus is a much better work than Anti-Oedipus, it just does not have as much to do with psychoanalysis.

    Anyways, Maximus, if you pick up anything by Deleuze or/and Guatarri, be prepared for some craaazy new words (most are useless). If you know Freud well, Lacan, as said before, is all the rage now a days (I don't know why, Lacan = Freud + mirror stage + needlessly esoteric jargon).
  6. Jul 25, 2003 #5
    Dear maximus,
    as you know, there's a big difference between continental psychoanalysis and philosophy on the one hand, and American or Anglosaxon philosophy on the other hand.

    We've seen a wave of continental philosophers travel the ocean to America and be received well over there (I'm thinking of a tradition starting with Bataille, Blanchot, Foucault, Derrida, Baudrillard, Deleuze, Guattari and up till now with Sloterdijk and Virillio.

    Lacan is often considered more to be a philosopher than a psychoanalyst in the real sense and to belong to that grand continental group. Although, as you know, he has never really recovered from the attack by the french psychoanalytical school. In Europe, Lacan has been "out" since the 80s. He was hot, so to speak in the 60s and 70s.

    That's why its strange to me that you still call him "all the rage these days".

    Where are you writing from?

    It's strange. Over here, Lacan is so passé.

    But anyway, to me he's only interesting as a psychoanalyst. That is why I prefer his seminars and not the popular works.

    I don't think the seminars are translated in English already (maybe a few volumes here and there).

    So to the original poster: you may have to read the material in French. Just like it is crucial to read Freud in German, because the English translations have really never worked.

    You have a lot of work to do!

    Good luck anyways!

    PS: why do you say Mille Plateaux is a 'better' work? I don't see why that would be so. Why do you think that? To me, they're just two different works.
  7. Jul 25, 2003 #6
    one more interesting route is to read Guattari's early work, not those he wrote with Deleuze.

    They're really a new track in psychoanalysis, and much more radical than the already radical works of De Kesel or Lacan.

    A good starting point for an exploration of Guattari may be "L'inconscient machinique. Essais schizoanalytiques" (1979). I don't think it has been translated in English, but you can easily find it in a french bookstore, it's still in print.
  8. Jul 25, 2003 #7

    I am pretty sure you were respounding to me (RageSk8) and not Maximus. Anyways...

    For the most part I agree. However, one should note that many American analytic philosophers - Putnam, McDowell, Richard Rorty, Donald Davidson, and even Quine (who was one of the major lobbyists against Derrida receiving his honorary degree from Cambridge) - formulated similar, even more radical, attacks on epistemology, ontology, and foundationalism. At times, the core distinction between analytic and continental philosophy is in style. Honestly I feel that Rorty and Davidson are more radical, clear, and useful than any of the French postmodernists - they get more done without the aid of extensive esoteric vocabularies (I must say that Derrida is more entertaining though).

    Not so much in philosophy departments. Derrida and Foucault get respect from some but disdain from many. American literature and cultural studies departments read much more of the above thinkers. I actually dislike most "postmodernists" - even though I agree with most of their core points - because they tend to be really into intellectual masturbation. I don't know how he does it, but Derrida is simultaneously the most overrated and underrated philosopher in America. I don't consider Bauldrillard a philosopher, he is an intersting semiologist, but his philosophical themes are nothing new.

    Yeah, not as "out" as Levi-Strauss though. Lacan seems to be very interesting, too interesting, in cultural studies departments here. I even think Foucault, one of my favorite philosophers of all time, is misused and overused.

    America. And not just America, California

    We have his seminars, I have read parts of volumes 1 and 2.

    A Thousand Plateaus is actually progressive whereas Anti-Oedipus is just interesting. Also the breadth of A Thousand Plateaus is substantially greater than Anti-Oedipus. More or less, I found A Thousand Plateaus to be more insightful and useful.
  9. Jul 25, 2003 #8
  10. Jul 26, 2003 #9
    Thx for the link abnak.

    You don't seem to take psychoanalysis seriously?

    As a therapy, I don't take it seriously either, but as cultural critique it is one of the more powerful discourses, I think.

    Most psychotherapies are equally questionable, anything might work when you're looking for a therapeutical technique treating individual problems.

    I'm more interested in the anthropological implications of the fact that a society invents something like psychoanalysis.

    That's why I think the digression from psychoanalysis towards "schizoanalysis" is only logical. Psychoanalysis was a bourgeois practise situated in a very specific modernist historical epoch, clearly reproducing and promoting a certain imperial epistemology. These epistemologies and metaphysics are certainly being reproduced in all modern western psychotherapies, still today.

    Apart from the small school of radical and experimental anti-psychiatry in the 70s and 80s in France, Belgium and Switzerland, there's nothing really critical about psychoanalysis anymore.

    That's why I advise our interested young man to immediately and simultaneously explore schizoanalysis together with psychoanalysis and even ordinary psychology.
  11. Jul 26, 2003 #10
    Yes , Max should study and form opinions from what he has learned( even subjects that he has preconceptions about ) .
    I think that you mentioning "anthropological implications"...will keep me busy for many hours :)

    Are you saying that Psychoanalysis / psychotherapy are invalid as a true science but that their methodology can be applied to social engineering practices ?
  12. Jul 26, 2003 #11

    i'll attempt to answer this question, though it was not directed towards me: it is a valid, or at least limitedly valid, science and has in the been applied succesfully in a great number of cases. it also has the more theoretical capability of being, as you've said, applied to social engineering and specutation. it is, however, limited in this respect to individuals rather than the behaviour of whole societies together; or in other words it cannot describe anything (besides obvious human trends) on any other level than an individuals without making assumptions and generalizations that make the "science" lean more towards a "philosophy".
  13. Jul 26, 2003 #12
    yeah, sorry about that. i wasn't getting very many hits here and sciforums has a whole forum for human behaviour so i thought i'd go for it.
  14. Jul 27, 2003 #13
    Yeah, I find this interesting too, but societies "invent" everything and anything, from morality to physics. This does not take away from the validity of such practices because their validity comes from the certainty we can place in their uses. As for psychoanalysis, I agree that much of it seems to be useless and most of its theory is superfluous. Nonetheless, psychoanalysis has shown to give some degree of usefulness.

    Schizoanalysis is only useful to avoid being hypnotized by the metaphors of psychoanalysis, recognizing the epistemological and metaphysical assumptions of people like Freud and Lacan to avoid being taken captive by them. Anti-psychiatry has shown, for the most part, to be a failure and to have continued many of psychiatry's dialogues of "oppression." This is because it believed in "oppression", believed that schizoanalysis could give not only tools that locate psychoanalysis' philosophical assumptions but also tools that could build a new study. One thing that has always bugged me about cultural critiques is the general trend to lable institutions as inherently "bad". Institutions - such as psychoanalysis, politics, and technology - can be used for either good or bad, to either oppress or free.

    I think that this is a good idea. Following this line of thought I would like to point Maximus to Foucault's Madness and Civilization. If one is interested in any field dealing with the mentally ill, Foucault is a great way to keep perspective.
  15. Jul 27, 2003 #14

    What is the nature of your inter-
    est? Are you simply interested
    in the history of this school of
    thinking or in finding a psycho-
    therapy you can practically ap-
    ply in your own life? Or some-
    thing else?
  16. Jul 27, 2003 #15
    Rage , wouldn't the validity of some thing ( psychoanalysis ) be based on effectiveness and truth ? Saying that The validity comes from "the certainty we can place in their uses. " , fails to address truth . Deception and just bad science may lead some or many people to draw erroneous conclusions , simply believing in something , does not make it so .

    I am not "Anti-psychiatry " per se , just anti bad science . This profession especially seems to have may different schools of thought ( everything from drug company lackeys to quacks) , how possibly can all of them be valid ?
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2003
  17. Jul 27, 2003 #16
    that's a good question, very practical. But we were only advising our friend Maximus that it is interesting and often necessary to study both the history, the critiques of and the psychotherapy itself, simultaneously. Just studying a psychotherapy and applying it has its own merits of course, but if you want to do it in a scientific manner, a meta-perspective is certainly a must.

    Maximus, if you just want to study a particular psychotherapy without the critical aspects, there are libraries full of good introductions. It's often interesting to read the "introductions" written by the "masters" of the school itself. Freud wrote one, Lacan did, Winnicot did, etc... Just pick your school.

    (In Anti-Oedipe, there's a good introduction of schizoanalysis in the last part of the book).
  18. Jul 29, 2003 #17
    shonagon53 , There seems to be an abundance of Marxist terminology in psychoanalitical work , and to some degree it is incorporated within schizoanalysis . Why is this ?

    Are you a Commie ?

    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2003
  19. Jul 29, 2003 #18
    since you are not European, I understand that it is difficult for you to understand the complexities of continental philosophy in a historical perspective.

    if you read the texts in their context and in their original language, you will see exactely the opposite of what you say.

    in fact, from the beginning, psychoanalysis as a whole has had to endure the critique of marxists who said that it is inherently a "bourgeois" science.

    psychoanalysis is very much apolitical. but it is true that there has been a short period in its history where the socalled FreudoMarxists tried to accaparate it. I'm thinking here of Bataille and more notoriously the French-German-American freudomarxism of Althusser. I think the freudomarxism of the German-American psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich is a special case. He's the most radical and virtually mad freudo-marxist (although his early work is now really enjoying a tremendous revival in Europe and Japan; especially his works "The mass psychology of fascism" --undoubtedly this revival is due to questions about American mass psychology today-- and his work "The social function of the orgasm"-- a classic in psychoanalytic sexology).

    As for schizoanalysis, this movement is clearly anti-marxist and very much post-structuralist. It is the earliest and most radical critique of both capitalist science AND marxist science.

    That some see it as a 'leftist' movement, I can understand. But is is of course much more than that. It is actually a nietzschean movement. And therefor both beyond classic post-marxism and neo-liberalism.

    What's more, when a well respected philosopher like Jacques Derrida takes up psychoanalysis, the confusion is total. Critics both call him ultra-leftist, and reactionary rightwing, at the same time. To me, this can only imply that it must be something else that transcends the easy boundaries of 20th century politicized discourses.

    Anyway, I hope I have helped you a bit further. If you have any more questions about continental psychoanalysis and post-structuralism, I'd be glad to answer them.
  20. Jul 29, 2003 #19
    shonagon53 , Thanks for taking the time to respond . You are certainly more knowledgable on this subject and your input is most helpfull .

    I did come across many essays that delt with the application of schizoanalysis to political thought (ie: " capitalism is schizophrenic " etc...) These works did indeed sway me towards questioning the motivation of this varied philosophy . Many of the same subject matter by different authors appeared very contradictory because of inherent bias . I quess this is to be expected .

    A concern and sometimes outright anger I have with this philosophy is that it is sometimes applied to (and against) others by claiming a scientific basis , when in reality this is just sophistry .
  21. Jul 29, 2003 #20

    All of them are not valid. On psychoanalysis I said "As for psychoanalysis, I agree that much of it seems to be useless and most of its theory is superfluous. Nonetheless, psychoanalysis has shown to give some degree of usefulness."

    About truth, I don't see it. The only use of the word "true" that I see as dealing with science is a cautionary one. "Truth" in science serves to always remind us that there may be a better different answer.
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