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Bass, A. (1996). Psychoanalysis And The Postmodern Impulse. Knowing And Being Since Freud's Psychology. By Barnaby B. Barratt. Baltimore /London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. 262 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 65:629-635.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:629-635

Psychoanalysis And The Postmodern Impulse. Knowing And Being Since Freud's Psychology. By Barnaby B. Barratt. Baltimore /London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. 262 pp.

Review by:
Alan Bass

In his first book, Psychic Reality and Psychoanalytic Knowing, Barnaby Barratt introduced his version of a crucial contemporary task: how to integrate psychoanalysis with the ongoing effort to think through the limitations placed on us by the history of our thought itself. This task has been pursued with some urgency by those thinkers who attempt liberation from ideas that appear to be natural or self-evident, but which are actually limiting restrictions on what is thinkable. A theory and a practice that “denaturalize” such restrictions are essential to this effort. For Barratt, Freud's thought and the liberating process of psychoanalysis it initiated are prominent examples of just such a process.

The problems arise, starting with Freud himself, when psychoanalytic theory regresses into the acceptance of the epistemological or methodological thinking it should implicitly challenge. This theoretical regression inevitably entails regression in practice. Thus, in his first book, Barratt took his readers on a difficult philosophical journey, reviewing the essential metaphysical issues that psychoanalysis is positioned most effectively to question and yet seems to fall back into, producing blind regressions to pre-Freudian thinking. In the book under review, Barratt goes a step further, demonstrating how psychoanalysis cannot but be part of the end of the modern era of metaphysics. As a pivotal element in the end of modernism, psychoanalysis would have to assume a postmodern approach to practice, i.e., a practice that questions the basic modernist presuppositions about unity, identity, and totality.

Barratt is a thinker for whom the therapeutic is the political. The subject of the modern era is defined by its assertion of identity as a totalizing unity.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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