1st Edition

Psychoanalytic Thinking A Dialectical Critique of Contemporary Theory and Practice

By Donald L. Carveth Copyright 2018
    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    292 Pages
    by Routledge

    A video of Don Carveth discussing the book and its subject matter can be accessed using the following web URL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yW7tGq0uEtU

    Since the classical Freudian and ego psychology paradigms lost their position of dominance in the late 1950s, psychoanalysis became a multi-paradigm science with those working in the different frameworks increasingly engaging only with those in the same or related intellectual "silos." Beginning with Freud’s theory of human nature and civilization, Psychoanalytic Thinking: A Dialectical Critique of Contemporary Theory and Practice proceeds to review and critically evaluate a series of major post-Freudian contributions to psychoanalytic thought.

    In response to the defects, blind spots and biases in Freud’s work, Melanie Klein, Wilfred Bion, Jacques Lacan, Erich Fromm, Donald Winnicott, Heinz Kohut, Heinrich Racker, Ernest Becker amongst others offered useful correctives and innovations that are, nevertheless, themselves in need of remediation for their own forms of one-sidedness. Through Carveth’s comparative exploration, readers will acquire a sense of what is enduringly valuable in these diverse psychoanalytic contributions, as well as exposure to the dialectically deconstructive method of critique that Carveth sees as central to psychoanalytic thinking at its best. Carveth violates the taboo against speaking of the Imaginary, Symbolic and the Real unless one is a Lacanian, or the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions unless one is a Kleinian, or id, ego, superego, ego-ideal and conscience unless one is a Freudian ego psychologist, and so on.

    Out of dialogue and mutual critique, psychoanalysis can over time separate the wheat from the chaff, collect the wheat, and approach an ever-evolving synthesis. Psychoanalytic Thinking: A Dialectical Critique of Contemporary Theory and Practice will be of great interest to psychoanalysts and psychoanalytic psychotherapists and, more broadly, to readers in philosophy, social science and critical social theory.


    Introduction: On Critique

    I Civilization and Its Discontents: A Kleinian Re-View

    II Expanding Structural Theory: Id, Ego, Superego, Ego-Ideal and Conscience

    III Is There a Future in Disillusion?

    IV Self Psychology and the Intersubjective Perspective

    V Lacanian Theory: Appreciation and Critique

    VI The Melancholic Existentialism of Ernest Becker

    VII Concordant and Complementary Countertransference: A Clarification

    VIII Clarifying and Deconstructing Winnicott

    IX Neo-Kleinian Theory: A Dialectical Re-Vision

    X Beyond Nature and Culture: Erich Fromm’s Existentialism

    Postscript: Dialectical Thinking


    Donald L. Carveth is an Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Social and Political Thought and a Senior Scholar at York University, Toronto, Canada. He is past Director of the Toronto Institute of Psychoanalysis and a past Editor-in-Chief of the Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis/Revue Canadienne de Psychanalyse.

    "Psychoanalytic Thinking is a bold and fascinating exploration of diverse trends in contemporary psychoanalysis; one firmly grounded in the history of the discipline. Carveth’s fearless critique of authoritarian trends in psychoanalysis, past and present, is balanced by refreshing reminders of the emancipatory power of truth, the dangers of postmodern relativism, and the importance of differentiating between the superego and conscience proper. And much, much else besides."-Daniel Burston, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Duquesne University.

    "Internationally respected, Donald Carveth is one of the most original and penetrating psychoanalytic theorists in Canada. Among his notable contributions, he has added the concept of conscience to Freud's notion of the super-ego to produce a picture of moral psychology much closer to complete than Freud's. And he has made Lacan intelligible to English-speaking students of psychoanalysis in a way that few if any others have done. As is true of most prolific authors, Carveth's works originally appeared in a great variety of different publications, some no longer easily accessible. Having a large sample of his work available in one volume is a cause for celebration."-Andrew Brook, Ph.D., Chancellor's Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science, Emeritus, Carleton University, Fellow and Treasurer, International Psychoanalytic Association.

    "The publication of Donald Carveth’s Psychoanalytic Thinking continues what I have come to regard as a "Wittenberg moment" in the history of psychoanalysis, which began with his first book, The Still Small Voice: Psychoanalytic Reflections on Guilt and Conscience (2013). Like Luther in the Catholic world, Carveth has managed, with a trenchant logic that is rare in psychoanalytic writing, to "nail" down something fundamental, which I hope will alter the course of psychoanalytic culture in a positive and integrative way."-Charles Levin, Ph.D., Director, Canadian Institute of Psychoanalysis (Québec English Branch), Editor-in-chief, Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis/Revue canadienne de psychanalyse.