1st Edition

Critical Theory and Psychoanalysis From the Frankfurt School to Contemporary Critique

Edited By Jon Mills, Daniel Burston Copyright 2023
    342 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    342 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Critical theory has traditionally been interested in engaging classical psychoanalysis rather than addressing postclassical thought. For the first time, this volume brings critical theory into proper dialogue with modern developments in the psychoanalytic movement and covers a broad range of topics in contemporary society that revisit the Frankfurt School and its contributions to psychoanalytic social critique.

    Theoretical, clinical, and applied investigations in social pathology are explored in relation to new directions in critical cultural discourse from a variety of psychoanalytic perspectives. In this volume, internationally acclaimed social political theorists, philosophers, psychoanalysts, cultural critics, and scholars of humanities examine contemporary issues in social critique that address a myriad of topics.

    Critical Theory and Psychoanalysis will be of interest to philosophers, psychoanalysts, political scientists, cultural theorists, sociologists, psychologists, religious studies, academe, and those generally interested in the humanities and social sciences.


    Daniel Burston

    1. Psychoanalysis and the Frankfurt School

    Joel Whitebook

    2. Communism and Ambivalence: Freud, Marxism, and Aggression

    Adrian Johnston

    3. Recapitulation and the Vicissitudes of Progress, from Freud to the Frankfurt School: “The Germ of the Regression”

    Frank Pittenger

    4. Analytical Psychology and the Dialectic of Enlightment

    Paul Bishop

    5. Dysrecognition and Pathos

    Jon Mills

    6. Critical Theory and Anti-Semitiism: Implications for Politics, Education, and Psychoanalysis

    Benjamin B. Strosberg

    7. Critical Theory, Left-Wing Authoritarianism, and Anti-Semitism

    Daniel Burston

    8. The Evolutionary Anthropology of Erich Fromm: The Frankfurt School, Second Nature, and the Existential Crises of Consciousness

    Gary Clark

    9. Colonizing the American Psyche: Virtue and the Problem of Consumer Capitalism

    John R. White

    10. No Sex Without Coffee: The One Nature and its Superstructures: Elements of Freudian Materialism

    Robert Pfaller

    11. Shrinking Vistas: Critical Theory, Psychoanalysis, and the Postmodern Mire

    Kurt Jacobsen

    12. Mapping the White Unconscious: Critical Race Theory, Whiteness Studies, and Psychoanalysis 

    Daniel Burston

    13. Critical Theory and Contemporary Psychoanalysis

    Jon Mills


    Jon Mills, PsyD, PhD, ABPP, is a Canadian philosopher and psychoanalyst. He is an honorary professor, Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex, UK, and is on faculty in the postgraduate programs in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, Adelphi University, and the New School for Existential Psychoanalysis, USA.

    Daniel Burston, PhD, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and the author of numerous books and journal articles on psychoanalysis and critical theory. His most recent book is titled Anti-Semitism and Analytical Psychology: Jung, Politics and Culture (Routledge, 2021).

    'This remarkably well-curated book offers us tremendous insight into the horrors of our planet, ranging from authoritarianism and anti-Semitism to racism and colonialism. The esteemed editors and contributors have provided us with much depth-psychological wisdom and have reminded us of the importance of studying the core concepts of critical theory and psychoanalysis. Every politician should read this text!'

    Professor Brett Kahr, Senior Fellow, Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology, London, and Honorary Director of Research, Freud Museum, London

    'Comprised of scintillatingly eloquent essays, this volume ranges from philosophically nuanced accounts of the place of psychoanalysis within Critical Theory, penetrating discussions of the concept of transgenerational transmission of trauma and illuminating analyses of the growing propensity towards authoritarianism in certain quarters of the Left, to critical, yet nuanced and judicious, encounters with contemporary critical race theory, whiteness studies, and much more besides. It's essential reading for anyone seriously interested in understanding and appreciating the rich and enduring theoretical legacy of the sophisticated synthesis of Marx and Freud forged by members of the Frankfurt School in the early decades of the previous century, after the moment to "realize philosophy" was missed.'

    Samir Gandesha, Professor of Humanities and Director of the Institute for the Humanities, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada

    'The papers collected in Critical Theory and Psychoanalysis demonstrate the continuing relevance of the Frankfurt School by applying their synthesis of Marxism and psychoanalysis to show the richness of their confluence; and how key thinkers in the tradition appropriated psychoanalysis in their critical social theory, engagement with Freud, and the social and political issues of the day. These original papers exhibit the vibrancy and timeliness of the Frankfurt School’s appropriation of Freud to key issues of contemporary psychoanalytic and social theory.'

    Douglas Kellner, Distinguished Research Professor of Education, UCLA

    'As Mills and Burston’s anthology demonstrates, critical theory rests upon the fundamental insights of Marx and Freud and thus the inherent nature of both capitalist exploitation and human aggression. Through what appears to be an ignorance of Marx and a turning away from Freud’s instinct theory, contemporary psychoanalytic activists seem to have little theoretical mooring with which to understand the astounding social and environmental breakdown happening around us... Jon Mills and Daniel Burston have provided us with an invaluable contribution in these most challenging times.'

    Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society