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Richards, B. (1986). Military mobilizations of the unconscious. Free Associations, 1(7):11-26.

(1986). Free Associations, 1(7):11-26

Military mobilizations of the unconscious

Barry Richards

I am going to discuss some British psychoanalytic theories on the subject of war. They cover a period from the First World War to the 1950s, although most of them are from the 1930s, when the threat of another major war was building up. It may not immediately be clear what there is to be gained from an excursion into the history of ideas of this sort. I would suggest two reasons for undertaking it. First, it is of interest to historians of psychoanalysis. More precisely, the work I want to report on is a chapter in the history of British psychoanalysis. Establishing the history of specific features of British psychoanalysis is an important exercise for those of us interested in relating different forms of psychoanalysis to their national contexts, especially if we believe that developments in British psychoanalysis may be of particular relevance to other disciplines. The previous seminar in this series was devoted to the question of what constitutes British psychoanalysis, while Karl Figlio has mapped out for us some of the cultural and intellectual spaces within which psychoanalysis took root in Britain. A second reason for this historical survey is that there may well be specific insights into the psycho-dynamics of war which this earlier work has to offer which are of value in understanding our predicament and our possibilities at the present time. I think this to be the case, although I am sure also that we need not be slow to identify shortcomings in the work I shall discuss.

Prominent in this work are the writings of Edward Glover and Roger Money-Kyrle.

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