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Bosworth, H. (2019). At war with the obvious: disruptive thinking in psychoanalysis by Donald Moss. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 100(1):170-173.

(2019). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 100(1):170-173

At war with the obvious: disruptive thinking in psychoanalysis by Donald Moss

Hillery Bosworth

A prolific American analyst, Donald Moss has previously published two collections, Hating in the First Person Plural (2003) and Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Man (2012), which explore the dynamics of misogyny, racism and homophobia and the dilemmas faced by men in search of definition amid ever-shifting notions of masculinity. In At War With the Obvious, Moss continues with these themes under a broader attack on what he sees as kinds of thinking that stagnate the psychoanalytic project, and share, however distantly, dynamic roots with prejudice. Throughout the book, Moss admonishes us to maintain our vigor through constant vigilance against what he alternately calls “the obvious” and “common sense.” By those terms, he refers to received psychoanalytic theory and cultural assumptions applied lazily to clinical work and to interpretations of broader social phenomena. For Moss, discomfort is the signal that we are in the zone where creative work can be done. He reminds us that our vitality comes from ideas that crack existing molds, but that with time these ideas become comfortable and enter the realm of common sense. Common sense thinking, a form of “coasting” on the brave and arduous work of our psychoanalytic forbears, is a defensive mode of pseudo-work aimed at assuaging the clinician’s anxiety about confusional states at the expense of their creative potential. Moss entreats us to join him in his fight against comfortable complacency, so that we may generate new disruptive ideas in our theory and in our individual work, and remain relevant interpreters of the wider world.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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