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Jozef Perelberg, R. (2020). Psychoanalysis and social violence: Civilization and Its Discontents revisited. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(6):1248-1263.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(6):1248-1263

Psychoanalysis and social violence: Civilization and Its Discontents revisited

Rosine Jozef Perelberg


Does psychoanalysis have the conceptual and clinical tools to understand social violence and collective traumatic events? How does social violence impact on the psyche? How can any social violence be worked with in the consulting room? Should one be searching for new concepts to articulate a deeper understanding of social processes?

In his introduction to Janine Puget’s and Yolanda Gampel’s papers in this issue, Jorge Canestri says the following:

There are many good reasons for deciding to publish the translation into English of two psychoanalytic works on “social subjectivity” or “social pain”. The first reason, as is customary for our Journal, is the interest and originality of the papers; secondly, the complexity of a topic that invites reflection; thirdly, and not lastly, their relevance to the present time. This relevance corresponds, unfortunately, to the many examples that trigger social pain today: from wars to dictatorships, from forced migrations to the state of our planet, from inequality to epidemics. (this issue, 1215)

In both texts, the authors seek an answer to what they both consider to be missing in psychoanalytic theory: how to define the concepts of “social”, “social subjectivity”, “social pain” and “the pain of the social”?

These two celebrated authors have published widely on subjects pertaining to traumatic political events that provoke pain and suffering.

[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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