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Urribarri, F. (1999). The psyche: Imagination and history A general view of Cornelius Castoriadis's psychoanalytic ideas. Free Associations, 7(3):374-396.

(1999). Free Associations, 7(3):374-396

The psyche: Imagination and history A general view of Cornelius Castoriadis's psychoanalytic ideas

Fernando Urribarri

I. Castoriadis, Psychoanalytic Thinker

Cornelius Castoriadis Was one of the most important thinkers of this century. His political and philosophical work has increasingly received a deserved recognition. However, his psychoanalytic work has not been so fortunate. Among the reasons for this is the way in which that work was developed and presented, which has made it somewhat difficult for psychoanalysts to gain a clear knowledge of it. For example, his most extensive, profound, and systematic work on the psyche is contained in a chapter, the sixth, of a major book whose general topic is ‘the social-historical’. An understanding of that book requires on the reader's part not only a strong interest in this specific topic but also advanced philosophical capabilities or knowledge. His work probably constitutes one of the most powerful and original examples of psychoanalytic writing in the past 30 years, yet it has gone almost completely unrecognized or remained unknown as such.

On the other hand, this relative unfamiliarity with Castoriadis's psychoanalytic work is the result of a variety of causes, the most notorious of which is psychoanalysis in its currently instituted state. One of psychoanalysis's salient features is its systematic disregard for and exclusion of issues connected with the social-historical field. Another is its tendency to read almost exclusively authors from one's own ‘school’ or group. In this context, Free Associations' initiative to dedicate this special issue to Cornelius Castoriadis should be applauded. For my part, I would like to contribute to this special issue by presenting a general introduction to Castoriadis's psychoanalytical thinking, focusing in particular on some of his contributions to the elucidation of the psyche.


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