1st Edition

Psychoanalysis, Catastrophe & Social Action

By Robin McCoy Brooks Copyright 2022
    186 Pages
    by Routledge

    186 Pages
    by Routledge

    Winner of the IAJS Book Award 2023 for Best Applied Book

    This fascinating volume uses psychoanalytic theory to explore how political subjectivity comes about within the context of global catastrophe, via the emergence of collective individuations through trans-subjectivity. Serving as a jumping-off point to address the structural linkage between collective catastrophe, subject, group, and political transformation, trans-subjectivity is the central tenet of the book, conceptualized as a psyche-social dynamic that initiates social transformation and which may be enhanced in the clinical setting.

    Each chapter investigates a distinct manifestation of trans-subjectivity in relation to various real-world events as they manifest clinically in the analytic couple and within group processes. The author builds her conceptual arguments through a psyche/social reading of Kristeva’s theory of signifiance (sublimation), Lacan’s 1945 essay on collective logic, Heidegger’s secular reading of the apostle Paul’s Christian revolution, and Žižek, Badiou and Jung’s conception of the neighbor within a differentiated humanity. The book features clinical illustrations, an auto-ethnographic study of the emergence of an AIDS clinic, an accounting of trans-subjectivity in Black revolutionary events in the U.S., and an examination of some expressions of care that arose in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Psychoanalysis, Catastrophe & Social Action is important reading for psychoanalysts, psycho-dynamic based therapists, psychologists, group therapists, philosophers and political activists.

    Foreword by Ladson Hinton MD

    Introduction: Healing is political

    1. Self as political possibility: subversive neighbor love and transcendental agency amidst collective blindness
    2. From leper-thing to another side of care: a reading of Lacan’s logical collectivity
    3. A subversive reading of Kristeva and sublimation
    4. Trans-subjective agency illustrated in the reals of U.S. (post) slavery racism


    Robin McCoy Brooks is a Jungian Analyst in private practice, educator and consultant in Seattle, WA. She is the Co-Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Jungian Studies and serves on the Board of Directors of the International Association for Jungian Studies. Robin is also a founding member of the New School for Analytical Psychology and active analyst member of the Inter-Regional Society of Jungian Analysts and the International Association for Analytical Psychology. Further, she is a nationally certified Trainer, Educator and Practitioner of Group Psychotherapy, Sociometry and Psychodrama. She currently is sheltering in place aboard a wooden boat on Salmon Bay with her husband and with two Siamese cats, or their home in Bellingham, WA.

    A bold and challenging book that interrogates the awakening of ourselves to our responsibilities as political agents. McCoy Brooks takes us deep into the complexities of the self as it is wrenched away from its personal concerns and called into political action. By exposing this shift in concern and the extent to which it can be mastered we are treated to invaluable insights into the psychodynamics of social transformation and into the socio-political crises we continue to wrestle with on a global scale. Her forceful argument is both grounded in and used to critique key ideas of Heidegger, Lacan, Jung, Kristeva, Žižek and Badiou, making it an astute and thought-provoking book on many levels.


    Lucy Huskinson, Professor of Philosophy at Bangor University, UK, author of various works including Nietzsche and Jung (Routledge 2004) and Architecture and the Mimetic Self (Routledge 2018)




    For too long the relationship between psychoanalysis and the political has felt forced. In a work of invigorating scholarship, McCoy Brooks revisits questions central to psychoanalysis and political philosophy alike, exploring the themes of solidarity, the nature of the subject, collective blindness, abjection, and the trans-subjective. It is rare that one finds such a bracing series of intersections between Lacanian and Jungian psychoanalysis and the philosophies of Žižek, Badiou and Heidegger, which so originally foregrounds the political crises of today (of COVID-19, Black Lives Matter, global warming, etc.) that define our times. She uniquely incorporates the clinical and theoretical perspectives of her theses throughout.

    Derek Hook, Duquesne University, USA, author of Six Moments in Lacan (Routledge 2018), (Post)apartheid Conditions (2013 Palgrave) and A Critical Psychology of the Postcolonial: The Mind of Apartheid (2011 Routledge).


    Robin McCoy Brooks has brought the therapeutic and the political – the individual and the collective – into delicate tension in what is nothing less than a masterful study of what it means to ‘do’ applied psychoanalysis.  By mobilising the notion of trans-subjectivity, McCoy Brooks opens us to the potential for radical change in times of rapid upheaval.  Through careful, comparative analysis and a determined focus on that which binds humanity together, she weaves a compelling narrative of relationality – a continuum of I and Other – that is only overshadowed by an equally relentless compassion, delivered through critical analysis and psychological insight.  Give hate the right to exist and it will. Provide a doorway leading to greater mutuality, dialogue, and understanding, and the possibilities are endless.  Stated succinctly, I would follow Robin McCoy Brooks down the rabbit hole of boundless futures yet to be imagined.  

    Dr Kevin Lu, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex