In this interview, Canadian philosopher, psychologist, and psychoanalyst Jon Mills speaks with us about his book Conundrums: A Critique of Contemporary Psychoanalysis (Routledge, 2011). In the book he discusses current tenets in North American psychoanalytic thinking and practice that he finds to be concerning and problematic. Focusing on the relational and intersubjective turn currently popular in the field, he articulates what he believes are the faulty ways in which some contemporary analytic thinkers make use of philosophy and, therein, particularly post-modernism. Though relationally influenced himself, in that he is drawn towards a more flexible, less removed approach in the consulting room, he questions the denigration of the drives and what appears to be a seeming disinterest in life before the acquisition of language. Mills wonders about the ways in which ideas associated with post-modernism and the practice of a psychoanalytic hermeneutics have been used to drum thinking about the body out of psychoanalysis and what impact that has on our clinical encounters.
In this interview the discussion ranges from the problem of therapeutic excess via analytic self-disclosure to the fate of the drives in relational and intersubjective thinking to the emphasis on meaning-making, and the role of philosophy in psychoanalysis. Also discussed are psychoanalytic politics, analytic training, and the relational critique of the analyst’s authority. While in this interview Dr. Mills asks some hard questions, particularly of the relational approach, and particularly its philosophical underpinnings, he does so gently and with great seriousness.