Unconscious Politics: Alienation, Social Science and Psychoanalysis

Author(s) : R.D. Hinshelwood

Unconscious Politics: Alienation, Social Science and Psychoanalysis

Book Details

  • Publisher : Karnac Books
  • Published : September 2024
  • Pages : 280
  • Category :
  • Category 2 :
    Psychotherapy and Politics
  • Catalogue No : 97761
  • ISBN 13 : 9781800132351
  • ISBN 10 : 1800132352
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R. D. Hinshelwood brings together social science and psychoanalysis which are often held to be opposing schools of thought. His creation of a psychosocial model to develop new insights into politics and society acknowledges the differences and commonalities and highlights the circularity between individual and society and the need to acknowledge both factors interacting at an unconscious level.

The social sciences and psychology see the origins of human experience from opposite directions: the inner world of the individual vs demands by society to conform. Politicians tend to follow the ideas of the social scientists and mostly ignore unconscious factors. Psychoanalysts, on the other hand, tend to focus on the human unconscious and mostly ignore the complexities of society, economics, and history. Yet, both disciplines are rooted in humanity.

Social forces impact on individuals; and society is but the creation of individuals themselves. Thus, factors from both sources have validity and must impact on each other. Hinshelwood has turned to psychoanalysis as the subjective science, to balance the attempted objectivity of social sciences. The creation of a psychosocial model to bring the sparring disciplines together has been attempted many times on a conceptual level but Hinshelwood starts with a singularly interesting convergence at the level of observation.

At a time where we face the imminent collapse of human civilisation, and possible extinction of the human species, it is important we attempt to understand the processes that have led us here. We need to find out where the forces of society and the imperatives of our individual selves converge in these particular threats. In order to regenerate some real optimism for our future, we need psychoanalysis to investigate the unconscious dynamics in where we went wrong.

A predominant theme identified by Hinshelwood is the gradual, long-term dehumanisation of humans, which has led to widespread alienation from both society and the self. This takes place alongside the convergence of the value of money with the value of a person. Hinshelwood’s use of the psychoanalytic theory of the unconscious mind to investigate humanity, society, and capitalism brings fresh insight to the intractable fractures we see in our social systems worldwide and hope for change.

Table of Contents

About the author

Part I: Introduction
1. Politics and representation
2. Discovery: Self-alienation

Part II: Humanity
3. Comparisons and origins
4. Labour process: Alienation process
5. Projective identification: Dumping and sharing
6. Mental steady-states
7. Producing humans: Some conclusions

Part III: And society
8. Complexity theory and complex psychoanalytic theory
9. The model simplified as a diagram
10. Drivers, good or bad
11. Another matching
12. Another anxiety: guilt
13. The intergroup dynamic
14. Leadership, and followers

Part IV: Commodities
15. Indifference at Auschwitz
16. Gifts and trading
17. Money
18. Stereotyping
19. The law is blind
20. Transition from steady-state to steady-state
21. Alienation: Socially driven

Part V: What to do
22. Political action: Collaboration
23. What to do: Psychoanalytic action?

Appendix. The betrothal of two disciplines

About the Author(s)

R.D. Hinshelwood is a member of the British Psychoanalytical Society, and currently holds the post of Professor of Psychoanalysis at the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, and previously was Clinical Director of the Cassel Hospital in Richmond. He is a past Chair of the Association of Therapeutic Communities. Professor Hinshelwood has written extensively on psychoanalysis and founded the International Journal of Therapeutic Communities (now Therapeutic Communities) in 1980 and the British Journal of Psychotherapy in 1984.

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