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Hoggett, P. (1989). ‘The labour of love’ and ‘a primary social medium’ Two problematics in contemporary psychoanalysis. Free Associations, 1P(15):87-107.

(1989). Free Associations, 1P(15):87-107

‘The labour of love’ and ‘a primary social medium’ Two problematics in contemporary psychoanalysis

Paul Hoggett

The idea that psychoanalysis somehow constitutes a coherent and monolithic totalizing system is so far removed from the reality of the history of this movement — a movement which at times could even have taught the revolutionary left a thing or two about factionalism — that one sometimes wonders whose interests the perpetuation of this myth has served. Nevertheless, despite this plurality of traditions and languages, some key common concerns do run throughout psychoanalysis. Perhaps the most essential of these hinges upon the question of subjectivity and, particularly, how this subjectivity emerges from an original nature which is corporeal and physical. For, like it or not, this is the psychoanalytic starting point — that we come into this world and depart from it by virtue of our corporeality. This is not to say that ‘biology is destiny’, rather it is simply to state that like any other natural phenomenon we have some ‘grain’ which gives shape to the range of forms that this human material of ours can acquire.

The idea that human existence is marked by some kind of ‘existential contradiction’ seems to be returning to modern social theory. Indeed, it is particularly striking in the work of Giddens. Yet, as I have suggested, this has aways been at the heart of psychoanalysis.

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