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Nguyen, L. (2012). Psychoanalytic Activism: Finding the Human, Staying Human. Psychoanal. Psychol., 29(3):308-317.

(2012). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 29(3):308-317

Activism (A Panel from Division 39 Spring Meeting, April 2011)

Psychoanalytic Activism: Finding the Human, Staying Human

Leanh Nguyen, Ph.D.

Drawing on my work in human rights abuse, I reflect on the process of dehumanization in torture, and make the links between the life-negating denial of death in trauma victims and the ethical responsibility of society vis-à-vis these victims. In examining how my own past helps me enter into my patients' posttraumatic narrative, I seek to show that the psychoanalytic activist brings to the work her own history—that the political is personal and that the activist is neurotic. This examination culminates in the reflection that existential dilemmas and choices intrinsically inform the ethics and politics of psychoanalytic action. I also propose an articulation of how the psychoanalytic stance is essential in receiving, rendering, and transforming the injuries that are caused by modern warfare and human rights abuse. The ultimate thesis is that all analysts are activists insofar as we make our psychic and ethical dwelling in the space of loss, mourning, and meaning-making.

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