Rapid social dislocation and change are ubiquitous to late capitalist societies, though these processes may be felt unequally. The book suggests, following the work of the late Christopher Lasch, that there are powerful narcissistic trends in contemporary life mitigating against the capacity to acknowledge and face these changes, in other words against the capacity to face reality and to mourn. There is a tendency to assert the primacy of a compelling emotional narrative over the claims of evidence and expertise, and to relate to others, past and present, as alternately idealised and/or denigrated aspects of the self. These trends permeate across socio-cultural divides and the political spectrum – underpinning phenomena as apparently divergent as free market fundamentalism, certain forms of anti-capitalism, and contemporary identity and victim politics of both nominal right and left; movements that have more common emotional and intellectual underpinnings than their proponents may care to admit. The contrasting, in the Brexit debate for example, of liberal progressiveness with post truth populism ignores the inter-relationship of these phenomena and begs the question of those powerful subjectivist and relativistic trends amongst sections of radical and "progressive" opinion that have long sought to problematise the very notion of truth. The books offer a historicized psychoanalytically informed analysis of these phenomena and suggest that these powerful trends distort perception, limit engagement with reality, and influence the way in which social problems are experienced and conceptualised. They have a tendency, through mutual projective processes, to self-perpetuate, creating at best a situation of impasse, at worst of malignant social regression.
Table of Contents
Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Human Subjectivity
Narcissism and Loss
Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Social Dislocation and Group Regression
Destructive Narcissism in History – Norman Cohn’s Study of Millennialism
Imagined Communities – a Historicised Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Rise of Nationalism
The "Downfall" of Destructive Narcissism
Historical and Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Fascism.
From Post-war Settlement to the End of History
Lost Worlds; the Un-mourned Past as a Psychic Retreat
Problems with the Defence.
Subjectivism, Post-modernism and Identity Politics.
A Culture of Narcissism?
Marketisation and Subjectivism in Mental Health Care - the Importance of the Paternal function.
From Dryadic to Triadic – the Post-modern Turn in Psychotherapy
Not in Our Name!
Everything is Permitted, Restrictions Still Apply
Conclusion - A Plea for a Measure of Universalism
About the Author:
Ian Thurston is a registered psychoanalytic psychotherapist, currently working as a Principal Adult Psychotherapist at the Department of Psychotherapy, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK. He has worked extensively in public sector mental health care, initially as a psychiatric nurse, and later as clinical manager of an Acute Day Hospital in East London.