Psychoanalysis, Values and Politics


  • Robert M. Young coeditor, Free Associations



psychoanalysis, cinema, politcs


Unless we can learn to think differently about thinking, we can't think—much less act—with respect to nuclear weapons and power and war and virulent nationalism and racism. The title evokes for me the whole area of the social representation of reality and of modes of thinking as the mediation between the weapons and the forms of negative behaviour, on the one hand, and the inner world, on the other. It is to that I wish to address myself.I concentrate on psychoanalysis as science vis-a-vis values and vis-a-vis politics. Politics is only values in action, values harnessed to power, policies, resources, administration. It brings about hegemony, or the organisation of consent, without the overt use of force and without the real relations of power becoming evident. We think of ourselves in our practices as abstinent with respect to the values and politics of our patients or clients.  We are 'professionals' seeking to help them sort out their values and priorities — to live and work more nearly effectively. Abstinent though we are all supposed to be, we all have problems with respect to horrid values, for example, fascism, sadism, perversions, child abuse, and other things that hurt people. We tend to pathologise them, to side-step morality by tacit appeal to medical, biological or— latterly—cybernetic or systems theory models. All of these have the feature of bracketing out values or, more accurately, obscuring, naturalising, submerging them in a framework of consensual values, Using terms like ’normal’, ’adaptive’, ’homeostatic’, ’stable’.

Author Biography

Robert M. Young, coeditor, Free Associations

coeditor, Free Associations




How to Cite

Young, R. M. (2018). Psychoanalysis, Values and Politics. Free Associations, (74), 23–31.