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Lenoff, L. (2017). Prologue: The Uses of Dystopia. Psychoanal. Inq., 37(1):1-2.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 37(1):1-2


Prologue: The Uses of Dystopia

Lester Lenoff, MSW, LCSW

“The uses of dystopia” begins in the home. How was it that my high school age daughter, who (modestly) combines a sunny disposition with a capacity for Winnicott’s “ego relatedness” (1958, p. 417), was left indifferent to the canon of Great American and British Literature, except Orwell’s 1984 (see Loewenstein, this issue)? And was an avid follower of The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, and Game of Thrones.

Or why my twenty-four-year-old son, whose major plan for the future was a man-den with six 50” televisions to watch that many games at once and who, until sidelined with an injury, lived for pickup basketball, spent hours playing the video game version of The Walking Dead (a television series that, after a few episodes I gave up, and a video game that when he insisted I sit with him as he played, I averted my eyes and maybe even put on a headset to distract myself with music). Why? As he explained, the game forced him, intellectually gifted but dismissive of academic settings and demands, “to make painful moral choices about who lived and who died.”

What is it that draws young adults from materially comfortable, developmentally “good enough” (and better) homes to what Era Loewenstein, an analyst in San Francisco, describes as a perversion, “a desire to debase and eventually eliminate the feeding mother, the Oedipal father, and the creative parental couple by becoming god-like creators of a new and idealized fecal universe” (this issue, p.

[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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