Projects and Initiatives

What we do is what we are. You’re welcome to attach to ongoing life, or develop a tentacle of your own.

ASP

The Analytic Social Psychology work group (ASP) began in the Fall of 2012. Our theoretical basis was Erich Fromm’s 1932 essay, written for the Frankfurt School’s Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, “The Method and Function of Analytic Social Psychology; Notes on Psychoanalysis and Historical Materialism.” Our ambitions were publications like the Frankfurt School’s Studies on Prejudice. Our necessity came from the need to understand the ideological basis of the contemporary quietism. Given the advance of the forces of production, why don’t we all relax? What light can psychoanalytic social research shine on what holds the society together? How do institutions of domination maintain their grip? The group meets biweekly in Chicago and via the interwebs. The calendar includes shared readings and presentations, both by members of the study group on ongoing research, as well as by visiting scholars. For the Winter-Spring 2016 program, go here. If you are interested in participating, please contact the organizer, Jeremy Cohan, at jeremyc@freudians.org.

Rrealisme

project site

        The organ for rrealiste reserche explores the multiple relationships between psychoanalysis and surrealism. Our interests are historical, scholarly, philosophical, aesthetic—but our approach is also, to a degree (or so we would like to think), immanent. Both psychoanalysis and surrealism described themselves as movements of research, and there is no question that they both have contributed  to the reorganization of the concept of knowledge in the course of the past century. In tandem with our more traditional studies of surrealism and psychoanalysis, we’d like to think that our little group also engages in this style of ongoing “recherche.” We hold seminars on rotating topics, maintain a discussion list, hold public events, and produce occasional pamphlets, artworks and performances. If you’d like to participate in the seminars or mailing list, or learn more, contact Scott at scttjnkns@gmail.com.

PMH

SPI’s Politics of Mental Health group has three-fold purpose: (1) to elaborate a model of emancipatory psychotherapy; (2) to develop a social and philosophical critique of currently existing psychiatric paradigms and institutions; (3) to intervene in the landscape of psychological institutions by analyzing latent social conflicts among the professional class of therapists and their payers, and by proposing concrete alternatives. Although we might be tempted to think of our project in terms of a professional initiative, what we are in fact best suited to provide is a thoughtful, concerned, civic perspective. From this perspective we are issuing a kind of call to arms. We as citizens of a problematic society need and demand a different kind of mental health care. We call on clinicians, academics, and activists to help us produce a different point of view. We don’t need to think of ourselves as reinventing the practice of psychotherapy (of course this may be a component, should it be deemed a worthwhile initiative in the general scheme) but as elaborating a perspective on the possibility of mental health care as a liberatory part of a person’s development, as opposed to a conformist constraint which clinicians have hitherto been expected to administer. We understand ourselves to have a stake, as citizens, in demanding something more from the mental health establishment. For more information or to raise the banner with us, contact christieo@freudians.org.

Experiments

Psychoanalysis as a whole may be conceived of as an experiment in talking. Its development as a therapy has sometimes obscured its other possibilities as a tool for research and self-awareness. The Experiments in Talking have been launched, and are ready to be reduplicated and expanded. These and other experiments are broad attempts to probe the scientific and cultural forms to which psychoanalysis might give rise, in alliance and tension with psychoanalytic therapeutics. If interested, contact Benjamin Fong at benf@freudians.org.

Agendas

project site

        Agendas for Analytic Social Psychology is a web-based project with several offshoots (including conference presentations and a special section of Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society) whose aim is a historical reckoning with the century-long love-affair of Marx and Freud. The fundamental question: why has, for the past century, social theory repeatedly, and in many different contexts, enlisted psychoanalysis as a major component of its efforts to comprehend social form and transformation? We take stock to approach the formulation of a definitive critical research agenda for analytical social psychology in the present. To that end, we have compiled a database of short essays on key “agendas” in analytical social psychology, organized around historical moments, texts, and figures that brought social theory and psychoanalysis into mediation in particularly powerful or symptomatic ways. These essays emphasize disagreements and unanswered questions to break open the tradition to new light. We ask: (1) What are the political and historical motivations for the enlistment of psychoanalysis in critical social theory? (2) What are the fundamental concepts appropriated, and what functions do they serve in the critical edifice? (3) How are these concepts and functions relevant in the context of current social forms? (4) What are the fundamental differences separating certain agendas from other critical uses of psychoanalysis for social theory? If you would like to learn more about the Agendas project, or to write an Agenda, contact Jeremy Cohan at jeremyc@freudians.org or visit the page.

Summits

Started in 2014, the Society for Psychoanalytic Inquiry’s biannual summits touch down somewhere on the continental U.S. every winter and summer: SP2016S2015, W2015, S2014, W2014. These semi-public meetings are the foci of reflection on our activities; they serve as opportunities for our membership to present works in progress, hash out theoretical debates, and devise future plans. A winter summit is in the works. To participate, attend, or plan, do contact benk@freudians.org.

Conferences

SPI had its inaugural conference, Which Way Forward for Psychoanalysis, May 17-19, 2013. There will be more. To present, plan, scheme, attend, contact Benjamin Landau-Beispiel at benlb@freudians.org.

Older

Education

        “Education is inherently conservative and its organization especially so. Never has education prepared changes in the social structure. Always — without exception— it was the result of changes that had already taken place…. We have now unexpectedly come upon a real and insurmountable limit of education. All education is conservative relative to the society that does the educating and it intensifies and increases the power of the educating group…. If you want to change [the educational system] or some detail of it, you must first change the social structure or the correlative detail in it…. This insight into the social limits of education negates any effort to effect marked changes in education before the social structure has been changed.” So says Siegfried Bernfeld in his 1925 Sisyphus Or, the Limits of Education. If interested in programming on the nexus of education and self, contact gregg@freudians.org

 

Major Splits

        The Major Splits in Psychoanalysis seminar helps sort out the gaps and confusion about psychoanalytic thought in the various forms it has assumed over a century-plus course through controversy, relocation, appropriation, and condensation. Individuals or pairs organize research projects and presentations around a controversy in psychoanalysis’s history that led to a distinct development in theory or practice (e.g. Jung, Klein, Winnicott, Lacan). Presentations follow the threads of the debate forward and backward: forward to the status of the debate in thought and practice today, and backwards to the core Freudian concepts that provoked them. The group aims through a process of individual research, shared presentation, response, and revision to locate and refine relevant problems of the past that might yet prove to be alive and well in the present. To start a split of your own, contact christieo@freudians.org.