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Richards, B. (1985). Psychoanalysis and the Deconstruction of Psychology. Free Associations, 1B(1):105-112.

(1985). Free Associations, 1B(1):105-112

Psychoanalysis and the Deconstruction of Psychology

Barry Richards

Essay Review of Changing the Subject: Psychology, Social Regulation and Subjectivity, by Julian Henriques, Wendy Hollway, Cathy Urwin, Couze Venn and Valerie Walkerdine, Methuen, 1984, Pp. 339 + Index, pb, £7.95.

Intellectual work, even the most ‘original’, is always a process of selective identification with and differentiation from the works of others. And as in the process of developmental differentiation, it is often hard to know who ‘owns’ what, from whom certain things came, or could come, and what one wants to take in from another. Thus we may find ourselves, at least for a while, identifying extensively with numerous aspects of the work of an author, in consequence of that author's work having been the occasion for us receiving a particularly important insight. Or we may manneristically adopt the style and preoccupations of a particular school after having gained access through the work of that school to some productive questions. Undoubtedly, intellectual style cannot be divorced from the substantive statements of the writer, but as we try to pick a way across complex ground we cannot always assess the contributions of different guides clearly, nor differentiate sufficiently within the works of others. No-one's intellectual work is indivisible; selective appropriations can and must be made. Also, very different works may converge in the formulation of certain questions, or the identification of certain objects. It is always the task of the reader to identify what insights a work may have to offer, to ask if these are to be obtained elsewhere, and, if so, how differently, and to consider how those statements found to be of value may be related to others in the same work, which seem less valuable.

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