Sex, Death, and the Superego: Updating Psychoanalytic Experience and Developments in Neuroscience

Author(s) : Ronald Britton

Sex, Death, and the Superego: Updating Psychoanalytic Experience and Developments in Neuroscience

Book Details

  • Publisher : Routledge
  • Published : September 2020
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Category :
  • Category 2 :
  • Catalogue No : 95278
  • ISBN 13 : 9780367439729
  • ISBN 10 : 9780367439
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This second edition of Ronald Britton's personal reappraisal of psychoanalytic theories is based on further clinical experience, further study of current neuroscience and continued reflection on the relationship of brain and mind, selfhood and self-awareness, belief and knowledge, and certainty and uncertainty.

Divided into three parts - "Hysteria," "The ego and superego," and "Narcissism" - this new edition adds content on brain, mind and self, the death instinct and a discussion on the biological, psychological and sociological basis of gender. It suggests that our increasing knowledge necessarily produces a dissolution of our coherent concepts of mind and brain, and that during this phase of creative dissolution we need to reassess what we know and what we don't know. Fundamental to the book is the notion that human beings have to live with probability but that we long for certainty, and create it for ourselves.

This book will be of great interest to psychoanalysts in clinical practice and academia, as well as other mental health professionals and those with an interest in psychoanalytic theory.

Reviews and Endorsements

As always, reading Ronald Britton is a mental treat. In this new edition he updates his views with more clinical evidence and reflection and his current interest in neuroscience. As he puts it, ‘It is clearer to me now that the scientific context from which psychoanalysis first emerged has changed radically and that it needs to take account of it.’ The book is packed with clinical insight, his superbly articulate way of making theory relevant and his mastery of language and turns of phrase. It’s essential reading for anyone who wants to practice real psychoanalysis.
Professor David Tuckett, Department of Science, Technology and Public Policy, University College London, Fellow, Institute of Psychoanalysis, London

Ronald Britton’s papers over the past 30 years have been beacons of clarity and creativity. He has reformulated Kleinian thinking in the same paradigm shift way that Bion did 60 years ago. I have learnt more from his writings than any other member of our Society writing today.
Professor Peter Fonagy, Fellow, Institute of Psychoanalysis, Professor of Psychoanalysis, and Director, Mental Health Programme, University College London

Ronald Britton’s work demonstrates an independence of thought that to me exemplifies one of his finest ideas, namely the emancipation of the ego from the dominance of the super-ego. The ego judges what ‘is’ while the super-ego is concerned with what ‘should be.’ As a leading thinker of his generation Britton exemplifies his own emancipation as he escapes from the tyranny of conventional thinking to break new ground. This is shown in abundance in this important book, now skilfully updated.
Dr. John Steiner, Distinguished Fellow, British Psychoanalytical Society

The importance of Ronald Britton’s original contributions to the development of psychoanalytic thinking - both theoretical and clinical, and also as applied to artistic creativity through his studies of literature - is beyond question. This new edition brings back the excellence of the first, further enriched by the result of a continuous process of lively rethinking...
Ignês Sodré, The International Journal of Psychoanalysis

Table of Contents

Introduction PS(n+1)

Part 1: Hysteria
1. Hysteria I: Anna O: getting in on the act
2. Hysteria II: Sabina Spielrein, sex, death and psychoanalysis; Afterthoughts: on the concept of the death instinct
3. The erotic counter-transference
4. Phallic idealisation in women; Afterthoughts: on sex and gender;

Part 2: The ego and the superego
5. The concept of the ego
6. Emancipation of the superego
7. An "internal saboteur" masquerading as a superego
8. Humour and the superego

Part 3: Narcissism
9. Libidinal and destructive narcissism
10. Narcissistic problems in sharing space
11. PS(n+1): Brain, mind and self

About the Author(s)

Ronald Britton is a well-known international psychoanalytic writer who has lectured widely in Europe and North and South America. He is a former President of the British Psychoanalytical Society and a Vice-President of the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA). He has a predominantly clinical approach but also a special interest in the relationship of psychoanalysis to literature, philosophy and theology. He was given the IPA Award for Outstanding Scientific Achievement in 2013 and the Sigourney Award for Outstanding Psychoanalytic Contributions in 2014.

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