Psyche and Society: Psychoanalytic Contributions to Political Thought


University of Chicago
5811 S. Kenwood Ave.,
Chicago, IL 60637

Date & Time

Jun. 1, 2013

Free Event

Event Description

  • This symposium brings together theorists who draw on insights from Freud and Klein. We consider questions such as:

How do individuals come to invest in norms and ideals that shape social life? Can we read these investments as symptoms of psychic attempts to secure the ego, and its pleasures, in contemporary society?

What can psychoanalysis tell us about forms of affective investment in political life, investments that others have attempted to theorize as aesthetic, ideological, non-rational, or ethical in nature?

Can a theory of unconscious drives help us develop a more compelling account of the relation of the individual to social forms, including intractable forms of ‘art’ and ‘culture’ that often elude political theorizing? 

In compelling us to take into account the place of pleasure in guiding human judgment, psychoanalysis opens a new way of thinking about ethics and aesthetics that is of pressing importance for political theory.


  • Cosponsored by the University of Chicago Department of Political Science and Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory (3CT)


  • 11:30 a.m.
    “Between Enemies and Friends: Carl Schmitt, Melanie Klein, and the Passion(s) of the Political”
    Isaac D. Balbus, University of Illinois at Chicago

12:30 p.m.
Lunch reception

12:45 p.m.
“Political Ideology, Scientific Lies, and the Future of Psychoanalysis”
Gary Walls, Ph.D., Institute for Clinical Social Work

“Commodity Psychoanalysis: An Interpretation of Adorno’s Social Psychology”
Greg Gabrellas, University of Chicago

2:15 p.m.
“Understanding Political Mobilization: Intersubjective Recognition and/or the Social-Intrapsychic Formation of Ideals”
Ashleigh Campi, University of Chicago

“Challenging the System: American Fantasies and Resistance to Real Reform”
Allan Scholom, Ph.D., Chicago Center for Psychoanalysis