In this passionately written and controversial book, first published in 1978, Catherine Clément, Communist, feminist and analysand, asks what the social function of psychoanalysis should be and condemns what it has become. She attacks psychoanalysis as an institution disdainful of treatment and cure, serving the interests of a new intelligentsia, the nouveaux riches of a narcissistic literary culture and publishing industry. Contrasting the insights of psychoanalytic theory to the obsessive imitations of Jacques Lacan by those who followed him as a practitioner-trainer, she offers an anthropological perspective and a political critique of Parisian psychoanalysis as a profession. How has the attentive ear of the analyst become deaf to questions about the social and political meaning of his or her work? Does a woman who is both a socialist and analysand necessarily hear such questions more clearly and answer them differently? Clément reflects on her own history, the history of psychoanalysis and the history of the French left to demonstrate what an activist and feminist restoration of psychoanalysis could be.
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