Subject and Agency in Psychoanalysis: Which is to be Master?

Author(s) : Frances Moran

Subject and Agency in Psychoanalysis: Which is to be Master?

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Also by Frances Moran

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Psychoanalysis works with words - words spoken by a subject who asks that the analyst listens. This is the belief that underlies Moran's exploration of a central problem in psychoanalytic theory - the separation of the concepts of subject and agency. This work contends that Freud simultaneously employs two frameworks for explaining agency, one clinical and one theoretical. As a result, Freud's exploration of agency proceeds from two logically incompatible assumptions. The division between these two assumptions is a part of Freud's psychoanalytic legacy. Moran reads the Freudian inheritance in light of this division, showing how Klein and Hartmann's theoretical concepts of subject are adrift from the subject in analysis. Moran also shows that while Lacan's subject provides more focus on this issue, Lacan reverts to the Freudian division in his use of logically contradictory assumptions concerning the location of agency. Drawing on contemporary theory development, from Lacanian innovations to the social theories of Anthony Giddens, Moran proposes a new approach to a fundamental problem, aiming to narrow the gap between psychanalytic theory and practice.

About the Author(s)

Frances Moran (BBSc (Hons), MSc (ClinPsych), PhD, MAPS) is in private practice in Armadale, Australia, working as a clinician within the psychoanalytic tradition. She has many journal articles in the field of psychoanalysis to her name and several books including Subject and Agency in Psychoanalysis: Which is to be Master? (New York Univerity Press, 1993) and Searching for the Soul: Psychoanalytical and Theological Reflections on Spiritual Growth with T. Kelly (St Pauls, Strathfield, Australia 1999).

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