The Unconscious in Social and Political Life

Editor : David Morgan

Part of The Political Mind series - more in this series

The Unconscious in Social and Political Life

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : July 2019
  • Cover : Paperback
  • Pages : 279
  • Category :
  • Category 2 :
    Psychotherapy and Politics
  • Catalogue No : 94295
  • ISBN 13 : 9781912691173
  • ISBN 10 : 9781912691
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Traumatic events happen in every age, yet there is a particularly cataclysmic feeling to our own epoch that is so attractive to some and so terrifying to others. The terrible events of September 11th 2001 still resonate and the repercussions continue to this day: the desperation of immigrants fleeing terror, the uncertainty of Brexit, Donald Trump in the White House, the rise of the alt-right and hard left, increasing fundamentalism, and terror groups intent on causing destruction to the Western way of life. If that were not enough, we also have to grapple with the enormity of climate change and the charge that if we do not act now, it will be too late. Is it any wonder many are left overwhelmed by the events they see on the news?

Galvanised by the events outside of his consulting room, in 2015, David Morgan began The Political Mind seminars at the British Psychoanalytical Society and their successful run continues today. A series of superlative seminars, mostly presented by colleagues from the British Society plus a few select external experts, that examine a dazzling array of relevant topics to provide a psychoanalytic understanding of just what is going on in our world. This book is the first in The Political Mind series to bring these seminars to a wider audience.

The Unconscious in Political and Social Life contains compelling contributions from Christopher Bollas, Michael Rustin, Jonathan Sklar, David Bell, Philip Stokoe, Roger Kennedy, David Morgan, M. Fakhry Davids, Ruth McCall, R. D. Hinshelwood, Renée Danziger, Josh Cohen, Sally Weintrobe, and Margot Waddell. They investigate so many vital issues affecting us today: the evolution of democracy, right-wing populism, prejudice, the rise of the far right, attitudes to refugees and migrants, neoliberalism, fundamentalism, terrorism, the Palestine-Israel situation, political change, feminism, austerity in the UK, financial globalisation, and climate change.

This book needs to be read by all who are concerned by the state of the world today. Psychoanalysis and psychoanalysts with their awareness of what motivates human beings bring clarity and fresh insight to these matters. A deeper understanding of humanity awaits the reader of The Unconscious in Political and Social Life.

Reviews and Endorsements

This excellent book is a must for analysts and for readers interested in understanding our troubled world in a contemporary frame. […It] shows that psychoanalysis has to take an ethical stance when confronted with the dehumanisation tendency in our contemporary world.
Virginia Ungar, MD, President of the International Psychoanalytical Association, from the Foreword

This book shows that the radical spirit of the British tradition in psychoanalysis is alive and well and haunts the social and political institutions that house it. The contributions illuminate the cultural contexts which make psychoanalysis possible, throwing a particular uncanny light on who we are now and what we do to each other.
Professor Ian Parker, Emeritus Professor of Management, University of Leicester School of Business; President, The College of Psychoanalysts – UK

This wonderfully scintillating volume powerfully addresses the key questions of our troubled times, from the relation between polis and psyche, psychoanalysis and feminism, alterity and prejudice, to problems of resurgent authoritarian populism, neo-liberalism, market and religious forms of terror as well as the looming challenge of climate change. It shows beyond a shadow of a doubt the utter indispensability of psychoanalysis not just in a clinical setting—increasingly dominated in this age of austerity by quick pharmacological fixes and band- aid solutions such as CBT—but, relatedly, to thoughtful, sustained, and rigorous practices of critique and engagement within the wider public sphere.
Samir Gandesha, Professor of Humanities and Director of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver

This insightful anthology explores the effects of social and political turbulence on the individual and social unconscious with invigorating verve.
Based on a series of progressive “The Political Mind” seminars established by David Morgan of the British Psychoanalytical Society, this collection is underpinned by Morgan’s belief that psychoanalysis “makes a valuable contribution” to the “important endeavour” of redeveloping “a culture that preserves the importance of humanity”, as opposed to embracing neoliberalism “with its emphasis on market forces over human love and joy”. To this end, the fourteen essays contained herein offer measured discussions of a broad range of pertinent socio-political matters from a psychoanalytical perspective.
From exploring the rise of the far-right and the debilitating “we’re all in it together” myth of austerity, to examining the psychologies of prejudice and tolerance in relation to attitudes towards refugees and migrants, this provides those looking for fresh takes on today’s troubled – and troubling – political turmoil with stimulating sagacity from preeminent experts in their fields.
Joanne Owen,

This collection of articles on urgent contemporary topics reflects a growing awareness of the meaning of a psychoanalytic perspective for understanding political and social processes. […] I found ‘The Unconscious in Social and Political Life’ very useful in providing a deepened analysis of what I see as a contemporary regressed state of the culture, in which both phenomena take place: the activation of post-traumatic fragments and the challenges to our identities and psychological states of mind in liquid modernity. While in different branches of contemporary psychoanalysis the cultural and social is increasingly appreciated, we are also increasingly aware of the impossibility of neutrality when both analyst and patient are so strongly influenced by what is taking place in the world.
Malgorzata Kalinowska, Journal for Analytic Psychology

…several of the chapters in this book contain useful insights into the impact of neoliberal social and economic policies on people’s emotional lives … At a time when the threat from the far right across the globe is greater than it has been at any time since the 1930s, that kind of ideological support from psychoanalysis is both timely and welcome.’ The full review can be found here.
Iain Ferguson, Logos: A Journal of Modern Society & Culture

… a readable and rich collection, ranging from highly personal accounts to the more theoretical ones … a psychoanalytic contribution to public debate is urgently needed.
… In sum, psychoanalytic sympathizers should read this brave book.
Jeremy Holmes, University of Exeter, UK, British Journal of Psychotherapy

Table of Contents




Virginia Ungar

David Morgan

Where have all the adults gone?
Philip Stokoe

The democratic state of mind
Christopher Bollas

Understanding right-wing populism
Michael Rustin

Europe in dark times: some dynamics in alterity and prejudice
Jonathan Sklar

Neoliberalism is bad for your mental health
David Bell

Toleration of Strangers
Roger Kennedy

Inflammatory projective identification in fundamentalist religious and economic terrorism
David Morgan

Psychoanalysis and Palestine-Israel: a personal angle
M. Fakhry Davids

Psychoanalysis and feminism: a modern perspective
Ruth McCall

Reflection or action: and never the twain shall meet
R. D. Hinshelwood

“We’re all in it together”: austerity’s myth
Renée Danziger

A psycho-politics of the slacker
Josh Cohen

Climate change: the moral dimension
Sally Weintrobe

Managing difficult children: psychoanalysis, welfare policy, and the ‘social sector’
Steven Groarke


About the Editor(s)

David Morgan is a Psychoanalyst with the British Psychoanalytical Society and Consultant Psychotherapist at the Portman Clinic in London.

More titles by David Morgan

Customer Reviews

Our customers have given this title an average rating of 5 out of 5 from 1 review(s), add your own review for this title.

Adam B on 16/09/2019 15:08:28

Rating1Rating2Rating3Rating4Rating5 (5 out of 5)

In this excellent new book, David Morgan makes a compelling case for why psychoanalytic thinking remains particularly important for understanding the pertinent issues that dominate social and political discourse. The discussion of issues, such as Brexit and the 2016 US Presidential election, have been characteristically chaotic. Yet Morgan’s contribution represents a rigorous academic engagement with traditional modes of psychoanalysis (and particularly Freud) in a contemporary political setting. It is a must read for those interested in psychoanalysis and politics.

Buy The Unconscious in Social and Political Life and get the following HALF PRICE :

A Deeper Cut: Further Explorations of the Unconscious in Social and Political Life
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