Winnicott and Labor’s Eclipse of Life Work is Where We Start From
Nathan Gerard draws upon the pathbreaking insights of pediatrician and psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott to offer a new set of ideas in the novel domain of contemporary work life and its discontents.
Locating Winnicott within a broad landscape of critical scholarship that dissects work’s perils, the book positions Winnicott as both a radical critic and creative advocate for building a different kind of work life—one that might make room for the presence of self. By shuffling the discourse on neoliberal subjectivity to reclaim what Winnicott calls “unit status” of the separate self, Gerard differentiates Winnicott from the relational tradition by advocating for Winnicott’s non-relational aspects. Through such analysis, the book reveals how work and home have become two sides of the same impoverished coin, each contributing to a legitimately “bad environment” that perpetuates self-absence and annihilates one’s unique sense of “feeling real” and alive.
Winnicott and Labor’s Eclipse of Life
will be of interest to readers of Winnicott and psychoanalysis, organization and management studies, and anyone hoping to deepen their engagement with the dynamics of contemporary work life.
Introduction: Working with Winnicott 1. The Joy of Being Found: Winnicott, Klein, Lacan & the Relational Tradition at Work 2. To Operate in Sophistication: Outline of an Absent Self System 3. On the Capacity (Not) to Care 4. Organizing in the Negative 5. Ruthless Critique Conclusion. The Cost of Feeling Real
“Going to work used to be only one aspect of our lives. But today it has taken over everything we do, casting a dark shadow across human existence. Drawing inspiration from the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott, this brilliant new volume offers a breathtaking account of why this happened. Nathan Gerard’s book is a must read for anyone interested in modern employment and its hidden injuries.”
Peter Fleming, author of Dark Academia: How Universities Die
“Only several times in my life have I read a book that not only adds something to my knowledge and perspective, but that also suddenly changes most everything in the ways I look, listen, think, feel, and participate in this life. Nathan Gerard’s new book is now one of them. It is at once additive and life-changing.”
Howard F. Stein, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, USA & Poet Laureate of High Plains Society for Applied Anthropology
"Gerard brings to life a side of Winnicott that has been little explored to date. This is the Winnicott as critical social theorist who warns that the endless pressures to submit to the demands of contemporary work environments generate a false and hollowed sense of being at work and at home. Gerard shows that exploring the depths of Winnicott’s thought induces us to claim for a separate self, something which is insufficiently done in critical approaches to work and organizations. A separate self, a self that is real and alive rather than evacuated and depleted by power, is a political space from which resistance can emerge and alternative ways of working and living reimagined. This and many other thought-provoking insights make Gerard’s Winnicott and Labour’s Eclipse of Life an important contribution to psychoanalytic organization studies and critical management studies.”
Parisa Dashtipour, The Open University, UK.