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Shamdasani, S. (1993). Commentaries on ‘The mirror and the hammer’. Free Associations, 3(4):604-607.

(1993). Free Associations, 3(4):604-607

Commentaries on ‘The mirror and the hammer’

Sonu Shamdasani

Having debated with Andrew Samuels his project for the political engagement of depth psychology under its various tricksterish changes of shapes, I will in the following remarks simply focus on what seem to be certain difficulties in its current articulation. One can applaud Samuels' reiteration of the urgency and the necessity for a psychological engagement with politics; and the way in which his attempt to formulate possible tactics, through shifting the language away from the narrow sectarianism of various analytic schools, sets the stage for the debate (given the current state of their interpolitical relations, this is a significant enough achievement in itself). The critical sections which deal with the pitfalls of various approaches are salutory; in particular, the critique of ‘the object relations consensus’ and its applications to politics is both timely and important. However, the problematics at issue in having ‘the baby’ as the paradigm of psychological intelligibility are not resolved through replacing the baby with a set of alternative figurae — in this case, drawn from myth — but require a questioning of the politics of paradigmicity itself. It is here, it seems to me, that the main difficulty of the paper lies, and this concerns what Samuels terms the resacralization of culture, and the way in which he inscribes the psychology of the political within this global paradigm.


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