We are often told that psychoanalysis is dead. Outdated scientifically, in that the Freudian model of the mind has been superseded by neurobiology; outdated clinically, where the talking cure has lost ground to drug treatment or behavioural therapy; outdated socially, where the idea that we are repressed by the norms of others is no longer stocked in today’s supermarket of free choices.
But perhaps the moment of psychoanalysis has only just arrived. At a time when we are bombarded on all sides by the injunction to ‘Enjoy!’, it is a unique space in which we are released from such pressures. The psychoanalytic encounter allows one person to feel alive in the mind of another, whatever the consequences. Neither a cure nor a cure-all, it changes those who experience it, sometimes by helping them to understand why they cannot change.
Slavoj Žižek and Stephen Grosz – a dazzling theorist and a renowned practitioner – have urgent stories to tell us about ourselves and the present state of our wishes: the wish for a trouble-free existence, and for therapies which can instantly return us to everyday reality, or unreality; the wish for science to explain our minds, or explain them away…
Discovering the unconscious at work in psychic life, Freud showed that the ego is not master in its own house, that we do not know our own minds. This is a truth with no sell-by date, and Freud’s insights are alive today more than ever.
[Conversation took place at the Emmanuel Centre in London, UK, on October 5th 2017.]