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Parker, I. (1995). Communion and invasion: outer space and inner space. Free Associations, 5(3):357-376.

(1995). Free Associations, 5(3):357-376

Communion and invasion: outer space and inner space

Ian Parker

This article explores images of invasion from outer space. My starting point is the connection between an approach recently emerging in psychology called discourse analysis and that of psychoanalysis. Discourse analysis sees language as something more than a simple transparent medium which enables the communication of thoughts from one person's head to another (Parker, 1992). Language organizes thought and emotion, but different strands of language organize things in competing, contradictory ways. Discourse analysis has usually, like the rest of academic psychology, avoided psychoanalysis, but here I will be using psychoanalytic concepts developed by Melanie Klein. I think that these are particularly useful for this material, but that does not mean that they are the only ones that would be right. Meanings are overdetermined, in more ways than one. In some ways Klein is the most difficult of writers to assimilate to psychoanalysis as a human, emancipatory or moral science, the type of ‘science’ discourse analysis aspires to be. For Klein there is, as Gary Clail (1991a) puts it, ‘something wrong with human nature’ If, however, we focus on the ways in which Kleinian concepts have come to be ‘true’ in contemporary Western society, rather than assuming them to be universally true, we shall then be in a better position to link them with the emergence of particular narratives about the social and the self; science fictions in general, and accounts of meetings with aliens in particular.


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