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Hinshelwood, R.D. (1994). Michael Rustin, The Good Society and the Inner World London: Verso, 1991. Free Associations, 4(4):610-617.

(1994). Free Associations, 4(4):610-617

Michael Rustin, The Good Society and the Inner World London: Verso, 1991

Review by:
R. D. Hinshelwood

This is a superbly readable collection of essays on all those topics that psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists want to be interested in, and ought to be interested in, but have not got the time and energy to read up on properly. Mike Rustin is that great asset, the non-analyst who knows, deeply, about psychoanalysis and also about all those other topics, and has thought about their links, mutual contributions, and grating frictions. Rustin is a socialist sociologist, his wife works at the Tavistock Clinic, and he knows as much about psychoanalysis as I do — it is just that he does not practise it. Despite this fact, there is an authenticity about his account of psychoanalysis that is not flawed by this wholly academic approach. Rustin is the rare academic who has engaged with modern, contemporary psychoanalysis, not with the dusty version of Freud that is so often excavated from the Standard Edition. He lends the authority of a sociologist to the view that British object-relations psychoanalysis, and the Kleinian inspiration for it, constitute a social theory.

The book is primarily for sociologists, and speaks within sociology's field of ideas and terms. However, it is eminently accessible to the contemporary psychoanalyst; and, it must be hoped, the psychoanalysis is just as accessible to sociologists. It is a series of papers written during the 1980s, and does not plod through a progressive sequence of ideas. Instead it highlights a collection of modal points at which psychoanalysis comes within touching distance of other disciplines.

Perhaps the most basic, psychoanalytically, is Chapter 3, which is concerned with the psychodynamics of racism; or, more precisely, the attempt to draw attention to the irrational side of people. Racism cannot be encompassed by a purely rationalist view of human beings.

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