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Patricia Gherovici and Manya Steinkoler reminded me of something very important and unsettling: I have a brush with madness every night.  Most of us do – when we dream. Or fall in love; or write poetry; or free-associate.  Madness resides within all speaking beings and erupts in the most ordinary activities.  In fact, ordinariness, rationality, and normalcy can be the most maddening phenomena of all.  In editing Lacan on Madness: Madness, Yes You Can't (Routledge, 2015) Gherovici and Steinkoler consciously employ the non-nosological, capacious — one might even say literary – term "madness" to resist normative and abjecting approaches to the insane and think in novel and flexible ways about both psychosis and neurosis.  Eschewing diagnostic categories like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, the editors embrace "madness" precisely because it exceeds the DSM and the clinic, does not lend itself easily to medication, and inspires controversy and innovative reflection.

The volume brings together eighteen impressive Lacanian theorists and analysts and invites them to ponder encounters with madness in the clinical setting and in the everyday.  Several offer fresh perspectives on the category of psychosis – "ordinary," atypical, melancholic, and otherwise; a few allow madness to elicit new technique and modes of listening in the clinical setting; others focus on madness in contemporary culture.  Some of the most daring chapters describe and interpret the creative ways authors, both famous and unknown, stave off madness or convert it into art.  While maintaining that we cannot choose to go crazy, most authors insist that we can direct madness to productive ends.

The volume asks difficult questions.  Is madness dire oppression or radical freedom? The abyss or the pinnacle of subjectivity?  Darkness or the repository of truth and knowledge?  Both in print and in this interview, the contributors and editors of Lacan on Madness provide varied, paradoxical, and inspiring answers.

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Emily KuriloffContemporary Psychoanalysis and the Third Reich: History, Memory, Tradition

June 2, 2015

In her new book, Contemporary Psychoanalysis and the Third Reich: History, Memory, Tradition (Routledge, 2013), Emily Kuriloff details a dimension of psychoanalytic history that has never been so extensively documented: The impact of the Shoah on the not only the psychoanalysts who were directly involved, but also the aftershocks to later generations of analysts and the […]

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Michelle Ann StephensSkin Acts: Race, Psychoanalysis and the Black Male Performer

May 28, 2015

Why would Bert Williams, famous African-American vaudeville performer of the early twentieth century, feel it necessary to apply burnt cork blackface make-up to his already dark skin, in order to emphasize "blackness"? According to Michelle Ann Stephens, this was one question about the space between realness, race, and performance that led her to write Skin Acts: […]

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Frank SummersThe Psychoanalytic Vision: The Experiencing Subject, Transcendence, and the Therapeutic Process

April 13, 2015

In The Psychoanalytic Vision: The Experiencing Subject, Transcendence, and the Therapeutic Process (Routledge, 2013), Frank Summers has written a wholly original work of theory, technique and cultural critique. Privileging terms not often used in psychoanalytic writing, among them romanticism, transcendence and futurity, Summers documents an as yet undocumented shift in the field. In an effort […]

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Jean PetrucelliBody-States: Interpersonal and Relational Perspectives on the Treatment of Eating Disorders

April 1, 2015

Responding to a significant lacuna in psychoanalytic literature, Jean Petrucelli has put together an impressive book that approaches the eating-disordered patient from interpersonal and relational perspectives. Just as the papers within Body States: Interpersonal and Relational Perspectives on the Treatment of Eating Disorders (Routledge, 2014) animate the twin themes of dissociation and integration, so too do the authors […]

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Susan Kavaler-AdlerAnatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization through Vivid Clinical Cases

March 17, 2015

The metaphorical construction of Susan Kavaler-Adler's Anatomy of Regret: From Death Instinct to Reparation and Symbolization through Vivid Clinical Cases (Karnac, 2013) evokes the complexities that have wrought psychoanalysis since its beginning of talking about the mind in the language of the body.   As it subtitle tells us, the anatomy of this book is structured by […]

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Paul GeltnerEmotional Communication: Countertransference Analysis and the Use of Feeling in Psychoanalytic Technique

March 6, 2015

With Emotional Communication: Countertransference Analysis and the Use of Feeling in Psychoanalytic Technique (Routledge, 2013), Paul Geltner has written the definitive textbook on countertransference. No book, to my knowledge comes even close to this accomplishment. Most analysts are taught that countertransferences are the idiosyncratic feelings of the analyst. Geltner begins with the radical assumption that […]

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Lynn Chancer and John AndrewsThe Unhappy Divorce of Sociology and Psychoanalysis: Diverse Perspectives on the Psychosocial

February 12, 2015

[Cross-posted from New Books in Sociology] The Unhappy Divorce of Sociology and Psychoanalysis: Diverse Perspectives on the Psychosocial (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014) is an edited volume. Its chapters document the central place of psychoanalysis in American sociology in the 1950s and sketch the backstory to that relationship. The core chapters expose the campaign waged by leading sociologists to discredit […]

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Sally Weintrobe, ed.Engaging with Climate Change: Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Perspectives

February 11, 2015

How up to date are you on the projected impact of climate change on human civilization in the next 100 years? Once you look at latest predictions, quickly come back and listen to this interview with Sally Weintrobe, because she brings a much-needed, yet realistic sense of hope to what most people consider a dire […]

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Daniel ShawTraumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation

January 28, 2015

Conventional psychoanalytic views of narcissism focus on familiar character traits: grandiosity, devaluation, entitlement and a lack of empathy. In his new book Traumatic Narcissism: Relational Systems of Subjugation (Routledge, 2013), Daniel Shaw explores narcissism from a relational perspective, concentrating on the effect that the traumatizing narcissist can have on others. Shaw defines the traumatizing narcissist as the […]

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