Enjoying What We Don't Have


Enjoying What We Don't Have

The Political Project of Psychoanalysis

Todd McGowan

Symploke Studies in Contemporary Theory Series

364 pages


July 2013


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eBook (EPUB)
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March 2020


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eBook (PDF)
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July 2013


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About the Book

Although there have been many attempts to apply the ideas of psychoanalysis to political thought, this book is the first to identify the political project inherent in the fundamental tenets of psychoanalysis. And this political project, Todd McGowan contends, provides an avenue for emancipatory politics after the failure of Marxism in the twentieth century.

Where others seeking the political import of psychoanalysis have looked to Freud’s early work on sexuality, McGowan focuses on Freud’s discovery of the death drive and Jacques Lacan’s elaboration of this concept. He argues that the self-destruction occurring as a result of the death drive is the foundational act of emancipation around which we should construct our political philosophy. Psychoanalysis offers the possibility for thinking about emancipation not as an act of overcoming loss but as the embrace of loss. It is only through the embrace of loss, McGowan suggests, that we find the path to enjoyment, and enjoyment is the determinative factor in all political struggles—and only in a political project that embraces the centrality of loss will we find a viable alternative to global capitalism.

Author Bio

Todd McGowan is an associate professor of film studies at the University of Vermont. He is the author of several books, most recently The Fictional Christopher Nolan and Out of Time: Desire in Atemporal Cinema.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Psychoanalytic Hostility to Politics
Part I: Subjectivity
Chapter 1: The Formation of Subjectivity
Chapter 2: The Economics of the Drive
Chapter 3: Class Status and Enjoyment
Chapter 4: Sustaining Anxiety
Chapter 5: Changing the World
Part II: Society
Chapter 6: The Appeal of Sacrifice
Chapter 7: Against Knowledge
Chapter 8: The Politics of Fantasy
Chapter 9: Beyond Bare Life
Chapter 10: The Necessity of Belief
Chapter 11: The Case of the Missing Signifier
Conclusion: A Society of the Death Drive

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