Why Psychoanalysis?

Elisabeth Roudinesco

Columbia University Press

Why Psychoanalysis?

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Pub Date: March 2004

ISBN: 9780231122030

184 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $29.00£25.00

Pub Date: November 2001

ISBN: 9780231122023

184 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£75.00

Pub Date: March 2004

ISBN: 9780231518420

184 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $28.99£25.00

Why Psychoanalysis?

Elisabeth Roudinesco

Columbia University Press

Why do some people still choose psychoanalysis-Freud's so-called talking cure-when numerous medications are available that treat the symptoms of psychic distress so much faster? Elisabeth Roudinesco tackles this difficult question, exploring what she sees as a "depressive society": an epidemic of distress addressed only by an increasing reliance on prescription drugs.

Far from contesting the efficacy of new medications like Prozac, Zoloft, and Viagra in alleviating the symptoms of any number of mental or nervous conditions, Roudinesco argues that the use of such drugs fails to solve patients' real problems. In the man who takes Viagra without ever wondering why he is suffering from impotence and the woman who is given antidepressants to deal with the loss of a loved one, Roudinesco sees a society obsessed with efficiency and desperate for the quick fix.

She argues that "the talking cure" and pharmacology represent not just different approaches to psychiatry, but different worldviews. The rush to treat symptoms is itself symptomatic of an antiseptic and depressive culture in which thought is reduced to the firing of neurons and desire is just a chemical secretion. In contrast, psychoanalysis testifies to human freedom and the power of language.

Written in an accessible style and designed to persuade nonspecialists of the continuing validity of the Freudian field, Why Psychoanalysis merits attention by all those who have a personal or professional stake in mental health.

American Imago

A courageous book.

Marc Augé, Le Monde

Bubbling with energy.

Elle (Paris)

Passionate and timely.

Peter Brooks, Yale University

Roudinesco foresees the establishment of a human science where the figure of the Socratic master is internalized, allowing for an ongoing and creative reworking of individual and social meaning. This vision emerges as the important and elegant outcome of Why Psychoanalysis?

Stephen E. Sternbach, Psychoanalytic Quarterly
Part I. The Depressive Society
1. The Defeat of the Subject
2. The Medications of the Mind
Part II. The Great Quarrel Over the Unconscious
3. The Soul Is Not a Thing
5. Frankenstein's Brain
Part III. The Future of Psychoanalysis
4. Behavior-Modification Man
6. The "Equinox Letter''
7. Freud Is Dead in America
8. A French Scientism
9. Science and Psychoanalysis
10. Tragic Man
11. Universality, Difference, Exclusion
12. Critique of Psychoanalytic Institutions

About the Author

Elisabeth Roudinesco teaches at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. She is the author of twelve other books, including Jacques Lacan (Columbia 1999) and Revolution and Madness: The Lives and Legends of Theroigne de Mericourt.Rachel Bowlby is a professor of English at the University of York. She has written Carried Away: The Invention of Modern Shopping(Columbia 2001); Feminist Destinations and Further Essays on Virginia Woolf; Just Looking: Consumer Culture in Dreise, Gissing, and Zola; Still Crazy After All These Years: Woman, Writing, and Psychoanalysis; and Shopping with Freud.