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Puget, J. (1991). The social context: Searching for a hypothesis. Free Associations, 2(1):21-33.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(1):21-33

Psychoanalysis and Politics

The social context: Searching for a hypothesis

Janine Puget

External Reality in Psychoanalytic Theory

The concepts of external reality, external world and external object are highly ambiguous in Freud's work, as in those of later authors. Their efforts concentrated upon theorizing about internal reality and its construction through the interplay of identifications, projections or introjections with the first parental relationships in relation to instinctual life. The social field has not received a specific representation within psychoanalytic theory. Socialization is always seen as the outcome of successive transformations of primitive object relationships. Frosh states: ‘The idea that social processes may in some ways produce psychological processes — that they may be constitutive of psychic structure — is outside the scope of object-relationships theory’ (1986, p. 53).

I propose a new form of enquiry, in which the ambiguous notion of external reality as a structuring element of the psychic apparatus will be refined.

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