978-0-295-97226-8 / 9780295972268

The Self Between: From Freud to the New Social Psychology of France


Publisher:University of Washington Press



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About the book:

After the disappointing events of the 1960s, including the loss of Algeria, the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, and the American war in the former French colony of Indo-China, people in France began to look seriouslyto Freudianism, in the transformed version of Jacques Lacan, for a new way of understanding human relations and the relations between human beings and society. The movement in France is not specifically psychoanalytic but developed against such a background. Psychoanalytic thought acquired the kind of centrality in French intellectual life once associated with existentialism and Marxism and later with structuralism--a centrality it probably never possessed in the United States, even at the peak of its popularity. The current movement is a reassessment and rethinking of Freud's thought and influence, and it is a movement as yet almost unknown to the American public.

The French approach is an analysis of human psychology centered on relationships that have to do with patterns of desire communicated, usually without either party being explicitly aware of it, from one person to another. In the process, they shape the personalities of those involved and are reshaped in turn.

Eugene Webb focuses on particular French thinkers he refers to collectively as the Girardian school (Rene Girard, Jean-Michel Oughourlian, Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Paul Dumouchel, Michel Aglietta, and Andre Orlean) and some others in the Lacanian tradition (Francois Roustang, Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen, and Marie Balmary). All share the theme, indicated by the title of the book, of the self as constitued dynamically and continuosly by the relationships it finds itself involved in--a theme that gives expression to a particularly French sense of the psychological field as one in which individuals can never be adequately understood in isolation because their sociality is their very essence. Most of them share also the idea that a major underlying force in psychological and social life is the unconscious imitation of the attitudes, ideas, and feelings of others.

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