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Samuels, A., D.H.L. (2017). The “Activist Client”: Social Responsibility, the Political Self, and Clinical Practice in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 27(6):678-693.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 27(6):678-693

The “Activist Client”: Social Responsibility, the Political Self, and Clinical Practice in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis

Andrew Samuels, D.H.L.

The idea of the “activist client” is intended to be taken both literally and metaphorically—applying to some extent to a wider range of clients than actual activists. The paper develops a set of ideas about a “political turn” in psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, using the tag “the inner politician.” There is a focus on working directly with political material in the session, and the pros and cos of this practice are reviewed. Wider issues such as social responsibility and social spirituality are discussed, as well as an exploration of the limits of individual responsibility. Some specific topics covered in the paper include the political roots of depression, difficulties with the concept of the therapeutic alliance from the point of view of democratic perspectives on clinical work, and a challenge to the unquestioned valuing of empathy (based on a reading of therapy though a Brechtian lens). There are numerous clinical examples.

[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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