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(1991). Editorial. Free Associations, 2(4):481-482.

(1991). Free Associations, 2(4):481-482


It is common to allocate two proper sites for psychoanalytic theory: the consulting room, where theory should derive from and inform clinical practice; and the ‘applied’, or social, political and cultural sphere, where it can develop more general parameters outside the demands of clinical work. Right from the start, attempts to create some theoretical articulation between circumstances in the consulting room and the ‘applied’ world were viewed either as dangerously contentious or as too subversive of everyday social norms (as witnessed in the critique of the pioneer work of Adler and Reich).

In this issue, we revisit these sites and explore contemporary attempts to link them in a radical psychoanalytic way. First of all, in the Free Associations Interview, Paul Gordon asks Cornelius Castoriadis, ex-doyen of the Trotskyist Left, why and how he became a psychoanalyst in the 1970s, and what he still believes to be radical about psychoanalysis today.

Then, in the ‘Explorations in Theory’ section, there are three very different papers examining specific problems in locating psychoanalytic theory in the political, cultural and historical spheres. Robert Young gives a personal account of how psychoanalysis informed his own critique of the failure of the revolutionary Left in the 1960s. Eugene Victor Wolfenstein examines the difficult coexistence of natural and cultural science claims in psychoanalytic work, and illustrates his views through an analysis of possible interpretations of a historical event: Malcolm X's comments on the assassination of President Kennedy. Donald Moss attempts to deconstruct the very distinction between natural and cultural science in one of Freud's early texts, the Project; he suggests that its appeal to natural science is to be understood as ‘an erotic project taking place within a theoretical/epistemological domain’.

In contrast, A.P.

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