1st Edition

Lost in Perfection Impacts of Optimisation on Culture and Psyche

Edited By Vera King, Benigna Gerisch, Hartmut Rosa Copyright 2019
    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    206 Pages
    by Routledge

    The permanent struggle for optimisation can be seen as one of the most significant cultural principles of contemporary Western societies: the demand for improved performance and efficiency as well as the pursuit of self-improvement are con-sidered necessary in order to keep pace with an accelerated, competitive modern-ity. This affects not only work and education, but also family life, parent–child relationships and intimate relationships in respect to the body and the self, in regard to the public as well as the private realm. Bringing together contributions from renowned scholars from the fields of sociology, psychology and psycho-analysis, this book explores the impacts of optimisation on culture and psyche, examining the contradictions and limitations of optimisation, in conjunction with the effects of social transformations on individuals and shifts in regard to the meaning of ‘pathology’ and ‘normality’.

    Introduction: ‘Lost in Perfection’ – Ideals and Performances (Vera King, Benigna Gerisch, Hartmut Rosa)

    Part I: Optimisation in Economy and Working Life

    1. Optimisation in Context of Financialisation (Eve Chiapello)

    2. The Subject in the Marketplace, the Subject as a Marketplace (Ulrich Bröckling)

    3. The Missing Link: How Organisations Bridge the Gap between Dynamic Stabilisation and Individual Optimisation (Hartmut Rosa, Diana Lindner, Jörg Oberthür)

    Part II: Changes in Intersubjectivity – Pathologies of the Social

    4. "Fitter, Happier, More Productive": Optimising Time with Technology (Judy Wajcman)

    5. Optimising Patterns of Life Conduct – Transformations in Relations to the Self and to Others, especially in Generational Care (Vera King, Julia Schreiber, Niels Uhlendorf, Benigna Gerisch)

    6. The Two Meanings of the Notion of Social Pathology: Toward an Anthropology of Adversity in Individualistic Society (Alain Ehrenberg)

    Part III: The Optimised Self

    7. The Authoritarian Dimension in Digital Self-Tracking – Containment, Commodification, Subjugation (Steffen Krüger)

    8. The Truth of Fear (Heinz Bude)

    9. Perfection, Sublimation and Idealisation (Sophie de Mijolla-Mellor)

    10. A Pathological Organization Based on a Longing for Perfection (Heinz Weiß, Heinrich Merkt)

    Part IV: Optimisation of the Body

    11. Optimisation by Knife: On Types of Biographical Appropriation of Aesthetic Surgery in Late Modernity (Benigna Gerisch, Benedikt Salfeld, Christiane Beerbom, Katarina Busch, Vera King)

    12. Fighting Death with Aesthetic Medicine. The Rise of Minimal Invasive Procedures in Times of Self-Optimisation (Ada Borkenhagen)

    13. Rationalising Life by Means of Self-Optimisation. The Obsessive-Compulsive Excess of Gustav Großmann. A Striking Example for the Rationalistic Bookkeeper-Personality (Jürgen Straub)

    Conclusions (Vera King, Benigna Gerisch, Hartmut Rosa)



    Vera King is Professor of Sociology and Social Psychology at Goethe University and Managing Director of the Sigmund Freud Institute, Frankfurt a.M., Germany.

    Benigna Gerisch is Professor of Clinical Psychology, Psychoanalysis, Intervention and Psychodynamic Counselling at International Psychoanalytic University, Berlin, Germany. She trained as a psychoanalyst and is a member of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA).

    Hartmut Rosa is Professor of Sociology at Jena University and Director of the Max-Weber-Center, Germany. He is the author of Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity.