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The same economic forces teach and train therapists with the objective to treat the individual not the system. So if an individual is injured, we have trained ourselves to treat the injury and not to confront the aggressor, especially since the aggressor we are talking about is often unnameable or part of the global consensus. Thus, the system teaches us to remain (consciously or unconsciously) scientifically accomplices:

“Problems are identified and located at the level of individual. The system’s contribution is obscured. Thus, understanding and helping one person or one family at a time is the premdominant mode within the psy-complex (the industry surrounding the assessment and treatment of troubling emotions and deviant behaviors). In classes, system transformation is suggested as a secondary activity, but it is rarely listed in job descriptions of counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Basically, the psy-complex would not be thriving if it did not sustain the social system as presently constituted.


Meanwhile, political, economic, and military machines grind away, uprooting communities, destroying local economies, killing the leaders of resistance movements, turning infants into addictive adolescent and adult consumers, replacing meaning with sensation, fueling racism, sowing fear, anxiety, depression, and narcissism, and fabricating the case for the next war.”


Watkins, M., Shulman, H. (2008). Toward Psychologies of Liberation. London: Palgrave.

Le récit thérapeutique produit non pas du plaisir mais une multiplicité de formes de souffrance. (…) puisque la vocation principale de la psychologie a été de faire diminuer toutes les formes de souffrance psychique au moyen d’un idéal non défini de santé et de réalisation de soi, et puisque le discours thérapeutique a en fait contribué à créer une mémoire personnelle de la souffrance, il a, par une étrange ironie, créé une grande partie de la souffrance qu’il est censé faire diminuer.


Eva Illouz, Les sentiments du capitalisme, 2016, p. 116.

On pourrait dire que le sujet patriarco-colonial moderne utilise la majeure partie de son énergie psychique à produire son identité binaire normative : angoisse, hallucination, mélancolie, dépression, dissociation, opacité, répétition… ne sont que les coûts psychologiques et sociaux générés par le double dispositif d’extraction de la force de production et la force de reproduction. La psychanalyse n’est pas une critique de cette épistémologie, mais la thérapie nécessaire pour que le sujet partriarcal-colonial continue à fonctionner malgré les coûts psychiques énormes et la violence indescriptible de ce régime. Face à une psychanalyse dépolitisée nous aurons besoin d’une clinique radicalement politique qui commence par un processus de dépatriarcalisation et de décolonisation du corps et de l’appareil psychique (p. 84-85).

Paul B. Preciado, Je suis un monstre qui vous parle. Rapport pour une académie de psychanalystes, 2020.


We psychoanalysts, experts at calling out the defenses and evasions of others, have notably excelled at avoidance in the face of crisis ourselves. Beginning with Freud, who long underestimated the Nazi threat, continuing through the British Society’s “Controversial Discussions,” to our own near silence in a “burning world” (Cushman, 2007), when it comes to our own peril, we have long been specialists in evasion.

Let us admit it up front. Organized psychoanalysis holds a deplorable record in the face of moral emergencies. Our lack of civil courage has been stunning. In addition to the examples of Freud in the 1930s and of the self-absorbed British Society, we may consider the extensive collaboration of German psychoanalysts with the Nazi regime (Cocks, 1997) and the silence of organized psychoanalysis in the face of the U.S. resort to torture in the aftermath of the 9–11 attacks. Psychoanalyst Stephen Reisner, a true hero, has led the efforts to find out just how extensively involved were psychologists, with the blessing of the American Psychological Association (to which thousands of us psychoanalysts belong, and from which a few resigned in protest) in the Bush torture programs.

A very few other psychoanalysts have been seriously concerned since before 2008 (Boulanger, 2008; Grand, 2008; Soldz, 2008; Summers, 2008). We now know that leaders of the APA collaborated with the CIA and the Department of Defense to plan and justify torture of our fellow human beings for many years, while members actually helped to do it. The ethical corruption ran deeper, and more extensively, than almost anyone imagined. Most of us remained indifferent, or what is morally equivalent, silent.

Once again, however, we face a crisis arguably equivalent in scale to that generated by Hitler.

Orange, Donna M., Climate Crisis, Psychoanalysis, and Radical Ethics.

Traditional discussions of (research) purpose are silent about critique, action, advocacy, empowerment, and emancipation - the purposes often found in studies grounded in critical, feminist, or postmodern assumptions.


C. Marshall, G. Rossman, Designing Qualitative Research, 2016 (6th edition).

Haslam (2016) argued that the consequences of concept creep were likely to be ambivalent. On the one hand, broadened concepts of harm recognize forms of suffering and maltreatment that had previously gone unrecognized, thereby identifying them as requiring remedy and giving moral legitimacy to condemnations of harmful behavior. Defining nonviolent but negligent parenting as abuse recognizes it as a problem, just as defining significant gambling problems as addictions acknowledges their seriousness and enables new kinds of intervention. On the other hand, it can be argued that broadened concepts of harm may engender over-sensitivity to minor harms, trivialization of more severe harms, constraints on expression, and, following the theory of moral typecasting (Gray and Wegner, 2009), a polarized view of a world populated by victims and villains. Concept creep might serve some progressive political and social goals but also undermine others.

Nick HaslamJesse S. Y. Tse and Simon De Deyne (2021). Concept Creep and Psychiatrization, Frontiers in Sociology.

Doi: 10.3389/fsoc.2021.806147

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