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Psychoanalytic Politics: Jacques Lacan and Freud’s French Revolution

: Turkle, Sherry

At the heart of the French psychoanalytic movement of the 60’s was Lacan’s reconstruction of Freudian theory, a ‘reinvention’ of psychoanalysis that resonated with French culture in the aftermath of the uprisings of 1968. The story of why Lacan’s work so profoundly influenced the French psyche is told clearly and unerringly by Sherry Turkle in this groundbreaking work, first published in 1978. Psychoanalytic Politics now contains two illuminating new additions. An extensive preface explains Lacan’s impact on the French by laying out a theory of the conditions for the dissemination and acceptance of a set of philosophical position by a culture. ‘Dynasty 1991′ provides a fascinating portrayal of the last years of Lacan’s life, the intrigue and power struggles that resulted in the break up of the Freudian school he founded and the events that unfolded in the years following his death in 1981. Read more…

Judo with Words

: Berckhan, Barbara

This is a handbook for verbal self-defence. Barbara Berckhan describes the techniques for protecting and defending oneself effectively in challenging communication situations, and how to shorten hostile interchanges, and to stop provocations. It gives constructive alternatives to being tongue-tied and feeling powerles in the face of aggression, teaches how to shorten angry interchanges and how to gracefully exit an argument, how to give a verbal riposte without getting emotionally too involved, and how to build an invisible mental “shield” that serves to protect our integrity. Read more…

Scientification of Love

: Odent, Michel

Until recently love existed in the realm of poets, artists and philosophers. Latterly it has been studies from multiple scientific perspectives. The author argues that the specialist approach has overlooked the importance of love as a potential new strategy for human survival, and that the old survival strategy, the domination of nature and other human groups, is no longer appropriate. By weaving together data from a multitude of disciplines, Michel Odent is able to back up his argument in insightful and exciting ways, making the case for the adoption of radical new strategies for human survival. This revised edition includes two new chapters. Michel Odent is the author of The Farmer and the Obstetrician, also published by Free Association Books and and is more familiarly known as the obstetrician who introduced new birthing concepts which played a significant part in the radical change in attitudes towards maternity and childbirth in recent years. The author of 10 books in 19 languages, Dr Odent continues his research at the Primal Health Centre in London, which he founded. Read more…

Simians, Cyborgs and Women: The Reinvention of Nature

: Haraway, Donna

Donna Haraway analyses accounts, narratives, and stories of the creation of nature, living organisms, and cyborgs (cybernetic components) showing how deeply cultural assumptions penetrate into allegedly value-neutral medical research. Read more…

The Land of Remorse: A Study of Southern Italian Tarantism

: De Martino, Ernesto

The Land of Remorse (La Terra del Rimorso, first Italian edition 1961) is a classic work by Ernesto De Martino, the founding figure of Italian cultural anthropology and ethnopsychiatry. Based on fieldwork conducted in the Salentine peninsula of Southern Italy in 1959, the study deals with the phenomenon of Apulian tarantism, a form of possession related to the belief in the bite of a mythical tarantula and its ritual cure in the tarantella dance. De Martino draws together the contributions of various specialists who participated in the fieldwork, including a psychologist, a psychiatrist, an ethnomusicologist and a social anthropologist. As both an ethnologist and classically-trained religious historian, the author reviews the fieldwork data through the lens of tarantism’s historical analysis. Never losing sight of his own relationship to the subjects of his study, he is able to restore the connection between the “history-less” peasants of the Salentine and the elites who wrote about tarantism in learned treatises from the Middle Ages on. The result is a compassionate and compelling account of tarantism, which no longer appears as mere mental illness or as a “survival” of shamanistic irrationality, but as a product of a cultural history defined from above, endowed with its own forms of rationality. The Land of Remorse offers an excellent introduction to Ernesto De Martino’s theoretical and methodological perspective. It will be of interest to a wide range of academic fields, including cultural anthropology, folklore, medical anthropology, ethnopsychiatry, ethnomusicology, semiotics, classics, religious studies and the history of philosophy and science. Along with appendices featuring essays on tarantism by specialist members of De Martino’s research team, this annotated edition includes the fieldwork photographs of those afflicted by tarantism as they perform the ritual exorcism, an example of the author’s early use of visual methods in ethnographic research. Read more…

My Shyness, My Self: Learn to Live with Shyness

: Manara, Fausta.

Here, the author, Fausta Manara, explores how persistent and unsuccessful suppression of shyness can generate significant pathologies, such as social phobia, and suggests a constructive approach. The author argues that returning to and examining origins of shyness can aid development. The author urges us to abandon the temptation to seek cures for our shyness but to praise shyness as a determined acceptance of one’s own reality. Read more…

Making Death Thinkable

: De Masi, Franco.

Man’s perception of the finite nature of life is always present, resulting in anxieties of varying intensity, depending on the person’s character and on the phases of life he is going through. Franco De Masi is aware of the philosophical, sociological, religious or mystical approaches to the problem of death, however he chooses to focus on, and remain within, the theoretical frame of reference of psychoanalysis. He explores how different psychoanalytic theories have addressed the issue of death, its presence or absence in the unconscious, as well as the implications of the theories of the death instinct on a more strictly clinical and technical level. Moreover De Masi is interested in thinking about the psychological resources available to man, to make death thinkable, when its inevitable occurrence needs to be faced. He is concerned with the transformation of the thought of death, from an unthinkable catastrophic event, to a natural conclusion of one’s existence. As a psychoanalyst, he explores the quality of the anxiety accompanying the idea of the natural occurrence of death, which, however, is a perturbing presence in the mind of the average man of our Western civilization. We might fear, sense and anticipate the death of our loved ones, and we know that when it occurs we will need to face the emptiness that will result. Yet, the emptiness we will leave proves to be unthinkable. Read more…