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Richards, B. (1994). The cultural predicaments of psychoanalysis. Free Associations, 4(4):549-569.

(1994). Free Associations, 4(4):549-569

The cultural predicaments of psychoanalysis

Barry Richards


This article explores some questions concerning the social influence of psychoanalysis, beyond the world of therapeutic practice. It will suggest that psychoanalysis and its friends face a major predicament in that there are several possible strategies for enhancing its influence, all of which may be flawed by the nature of analysis itself, or by the uncertainty of analysts as to whether they want psychoanalysis to have much influence in the wider culture. Lying in a sense in front of this predicament, and introducing us to it, is the predicament of how to respond to the attacks not infrequently made on psychoanalysis; while lying behind it, perhaps, is a third predicament, which I am less confident about defining, which centres on a choice between truth and suffering as the core concern of psychoanalytic work.

The Hatred of Freud

I will start with something a first-year sociology student once said in a seminar group, I think when I was soliciting discussion on Freud's The Question of Lay Analysis, which I had — perhaps unwisely — set as reading for a seminar. ‘I hate Freud,’ she said, in a tone of bitter complaint.

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