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Hauke, C. (1995). Samuels, Andrew. The Political Psyche, London & New York: Routledge, 1993. Pp. xv + 380. Hbk £40.00; Pbk £14.99. J. Anal. Psychol., 40(1):113-116.

(1995). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 40(1):113-116

Samuels, Andrew. The Political Psyche, London & New York: Routledge, 1993. Pp. xv + 380. Hbk £40.00; Pbk £14.99

Review by:
Christopher Hauke

The project to link depth psychology with politics has had a long and controversial history since the early days of psychoanalysis. The nineteenth century saw the decentring of the individual by the two new theories of Marx and Freud, in addition to that of Darwin. No longer could the ‘sovereign subject’, beloved of Enlightenment models of rationality, occupy the high ground of individual awareness once the determining power of unconscious processes and hidden relations of production were seen to condition his state of being, both personally and collectively. The ‘new sciences’ of Freud and Marx seemed well paired to tackle the modern condition, and many analysts and sociologists have stuck at the task to the present day when texts involving feminist theory and object relations prevail.

The Political Psyche is not one of these texts. Instead, it challenges and deconstructs the very assumptions upon which previous political-psychoanalytical work has rested. The two sections where Samuels provides a powerful critique of object relations theory and Lacan, indicating their politically conformist elements, spring especially to mind. But the book does much more than this. Indeed, one of its faults may be the extent of ground it tries to cover, a criticism Samuels anticipates in his epigraph, which refers to his own text as ‘a sack which changes shape every time a new opinion is stuffed in, but grows firmer all the while’ (the quote is from Robert Musil).

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