Class and Psychoanalysis: Landscapes of Inequality




Does psychoanalysis have anything to say about the emotional landscapes of class? How can class-inclusive psychoanalytic projects, historic and contemporary, inform theory and practice? Class and psychoanalysis are unusual bedfellows, but this original book shows how much is to be gained by exploring their relationship. Joanna Ryan provides a comprehensively researched and challenging overview in which she holds the tension between the radical and progressive potential of psychoanalysis, in its unique understandings of the unconscious, with its status as a mainly expensive and exclusive profession.

Class and Psychoanalysis draws on existing historical scholarship, as well as on the experiences of the author and other writers in free or low-cost projects, to show what has been learned from transposing psychoanalysis into different social contexts. The book describes how class, although descriptively present, was excluded from the founding theories of psychoanalysis, leaving a problematic conceptual legacy that the book attempts to remedy. Joanna Ryan argues for an interdisciplinary approach, drawing on modern sociological and psychosocial research to understand the injuries of class, the complexities of social mobility, and the defenses of privilege. She brings together contemporary clinical writings with her own research about class within therapy relationships to illustrate the anxieties, ambivalences and inhibitions surrounding class, and the unconsciousness with which it may be enacted.

Class and Psychoanalysis breaks new ground in providing frameworks for a critical psychoanalysis that includes class. It will be of interest to anyone who wishes to think psychoanalytically about how we are intimately formed by class, or who is concerned with the inequalities of access to psychoanalytic therapies, or with the future of psychoanalysis.

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