Sickness in the Body Politic: Christopher Bollas and The Deformation of Political Spaces and Subjects

Ryan LaMothe


This article discuses and emends Christopher Bollas’ notion of transformational objects with the aim of identifying the attributes and consequences of negative or deformational objects/processes in society. More particularly, an emended version of Bollas’ notion is used to identify a particular social-political pathology extant in the United States. In brief, I argue that these objects/processes: (1) undermine the civic respect or mutual-personal recognition that is necessary for positive public-political subjectivity, (2) heighten social-political distrust, which corrupts the polis’ space of appearances and civic cooperation, (3) foreclose openness to learning and social-political accountability, and (4) attenuate freedom because of a shared obsessive preoccupation with achieving and maintaining political dominance.



Freedom, Parity of Participation, Politics, Space of Appearances, Self-Esteem, Subjectivity, Transformational Objects/Processes, Trust

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