The Psychoanalysis of the Absurd
Existentialism and Phenomenology in Contemporary Psychoanalysis
The Psychoanalysis of the Absurd offers an interdisciplinary study of Existentialism and Phenomenology and their importance to the clinical work of Contemporary Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis. The concept of Absurdity, developed by Camus, has never been applied to the therapeutic situation or directly contrasted with its antithesis; the search for personal meaning.
The book begins with narrative accounts of the historical development of Psychoanalysis, Existentialism and Phenomenology in 20th century Europe. The focus here is on fin de siècle Vienna and Paris between the Wars as the principal incubators of the two disciplines. Accompanied by composite case illustrations, Leffert then explores his own development of the Psychoanalysis of the Absurd, drawing on the work of Camus, Heidegger and Sartre. Absurdity is first discussed in relation to the Bio-Psycho-Social Self and Dasein is posited as a bridge concept, with personal meaning as the antithesis to Absurdity, before being discussed in relation to the world and how it impinges on self. A final chapter attempts to tie together particular issues raised by the book: Subjective well-being, Meaning, thrownness, Absurdity, Death and Death Anxiety and how we have become technologically enhanced human beings.
Existential psychotherapy and psychoanalysis have, until now, largely gone their own way: the goal of this book is to fold them back into Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Establishing that the concept of Absurdity is of singular clinical importance to both diagnosis and therapeutic action, this book will be of great interest to clinicians, philosophers, and interdisciplinary scientists.
Table of Contents
1.Psychoanalytic knowing: A brief history of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy 2. Existentialism: The cafés of Vienna and Paris and Beyond 3. Existentialist psychoanalysis and psychotherapy 4. The psychotherapy and psychoanalysis of the Absurd 5. Culture and history: How Self engages World 6. Meaning, subjective well-being, thrownness and death: A summing up
Mark Leffert has been on the faculty of five psychoanalytic institutes and has been a Training and Supervising Analyst at four of them. He has taught, and supervised psychoanalysts, psychologists, and psychiatrists for 50 years. He is the author of many papers and six books. He has been engaged in an interdisciplinary reformulation of clinical psychoanalysis drawing on phenomenology, neuroscience, network studies, and (among others), heuristics and biases. He is in private practice in Santa Barbara, California.
"Over the past decade Mark Leffert has been on a creative journey resulting in this, his sixth volume, extending the contact, confrontation and integration of psychoanalysis with developments in a multitude of interdisciplinary domains. He is confronting us with findings in fields ranging from neuroscience, to chaos and complexity theories, to post-modern studies and in this book to Existentialism and Phenomenology to enrich psychoanalysis in both theoretical and clinical understanding of the human mind and condition. In his hands, psychoanalysis is getting solidly ensconced in the intellectual, scientific and cultural climate of the 21st Century. He is willing to seek outside the usual boxes of psychoanalytic discourse. We should go there with him."
Erik Gann, M.D., Past President of the San Fransisco Center for Psychoanalysis and Chair of the Psychoanalytic Scholarship Forum of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
"Leffert has an open, questioning mind, a keen sense of history, an original fresh stance to the clinical enterprise of psychoanalysis, and a clear and charming way of making his existential point. This book is a must read for all mental health clinicians. "
Peter Loewenberg is a Professor Emeritus of Modern European History and Political Psychology at UCLA, a Training and Supervising Analyst and former Dean of the New Center of Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles. Currently he teaches Psychoanalysis and Culture in China.