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Gonchar, J. (1992). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Psychoanalysis and Social Theory: Sacrificing Psychoanalysis to Utopia? C. Fred Alford. Pp. 483-507.. Psychoanal Q., 61:320.

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Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Psychoanalysis and Social Theory: Sacrificing Psychoanalysis to Utopia? C. Fred Alford. Pp. 483-507.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:320

Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990: Psychoanalysis and Social Theory: Sacrificing Psychoanalysis to Utopia? C. Fred Alford. Pp. 483-507.

Joel Gonchar

Alford argues that psychoanalysis is being used by three authors, Chodorow, Benjamin, and Dinnerstein, to corroborate their hidden utopian social theories. Specifically, they have chosen ideas of the British school of object relations to analyze the social relationships which they see as pathological, but then abandon these theories when trying to imagine an alternative society. Alford describes this as using psychoanalytic theory to climb to the top of the ladder, the top being a new social order, and then throwing away the ladder because the psyche has been transformed and now reflects the new order. He likens this to the work of the Frankfort school, particularly to Herbert Marcuse who blended Freud and Marx for the foundation of a communist utopia. The larger question raised is that these authors make use of psychoanalytic theory as a catalog of alternative accounts of human nature. Social theorists first figure out what kind of society they want and then pick from the catalog the view that best supports it. Psychoanalysis, however, is a world view; it is not being taken seriously by the authors mentioned, who abandon it for their own social-psychological theories.


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Article Citation

Gonchar, J. (1992). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought. XIII, 1990. Psychoanal. Q., 61:320

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WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.