The Culture-Breast in Psychoanalysis : Cultural Experiences and the Clinic book cover
1st Edition

The Culture-Breast in Psychoanalysis
Cultural Experiences and the Clinic

ISBN 9781138312517
Published April 26, 2021 by Routledge
190 Pages 1 Color & 14 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

We are fed at the breast of culture, not wholly but to differing degrees. The Culture-Breast in Psychoanalysis: Cultural Experiences and the Clinic focuses on the formative influence of cultural objects in our lives, and the contribution such experiences make to our mental health and overall wellbeing.

The book introduces “the culture-breast”, a new clinical concept, to explore the central importance played by cultural objects in the psychical lives of patients and psychoanalytic clinical practitioners inside and outside the consulting room. Bringing together clinical writings from psychoanalysis and cultural objects from the applied fields of film, art, literature and music, the book also makes an argument for the usefulness of encounters with cultural objects as “non-clinical case studies” in the training and further professional development of psychoanalysts and psychotherapists. Through its engagement with psychosocial studies, this text, furthermore, interrogates, challenges and offers a way through a hierarchical split that has become established in psychoanalysis between “clinical psychoanalysis” and “applied psychoanalysis”.

Combining approaches used in clinical, academic and arts settings, The Culture-Breast in Psychoanalysis is an essential resource for clinical practitioners of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, counselling, psychology and psychiatry. It will also be of interest to researchers and practitioners in the fields of psychosocial studies, sociology, social work, cultural studies and the creative and performing arts.

Table of Contents

List of Figures;  About the author;  Acknowledgements; Series editor preface; Foreword by Bob Hinshelwood; Preface: at the breast of culture 1. Thinking clinically with the psychosocial  2. Encounters with cultural objects as case study  3. The culture-breast  Afterword. Experience and the no-breast

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Noreen Giffney is a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, a psychosocial theorist and the director of Psychoanalysis +. She works in private practice in County Donegal and is a lecturer at Ulster University, Northern Ireland.


"A subtle, imaginative and brilliant work; The Culture-Breast in Psychoanalysis proposes an entirely new way of understanding the relationship between psychoanalysis and culture. It proposes that cultural experiences available through film, literature, music and the visual and performing arts can offer a frame, a space, and an encounter with an object, much like the ‘breast’ in early infantile life, so that we can, in a psychoanalytic sense, ‘learn from experience’. Arguing that cultural objects can provide forms of holding and containment of unbearable thoughts and feelings, allowing for the rawness of experience to be given meaning, Noreen Giffney’s profound insight helps us understand not just the transformational nature of these encounters but offers us the experience of reading the book itself as its most stunning case study. She argues with great poignancy, that we all feed at the culture-breast, and that understanding the way we psychically use cultural objects, whether as screen memories, as psychic retreats, or as containers, has the potential to open up new insights into the workings of our inner lives. This book will become a vital point of reference for those interested in psychosocial thinking; the creative and potentially transformational area of encounter between the clinic, psychoanalytic theory, politics, arts and culture". - Lisa Baraitser, Professor of Psychosocial Theory, Birkbeck, University of London, M. Inst. Psychoanalysis.

"It is an experiment in reaching between the heights of conceptualisations, on one hand, and the depths of personal experience on the other. It is this ‘reaching-between’ that we need to accomplish in a much more everyday way, as these reflections portray. We must be as well as have our experiences". - From the Foreword by R.D. Hinshelwood, Psychoanalyst, and Emeritus Professor of Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, University of Essex