This article investigates the problematic relationship between psychoanalysis and politics. Specifically, it wonders if an inherent conflict exists between these two domains. If psychoanalysis has as its central object the unconscious, and politics the construction of a relatively stable ego, then how can psychoanalysis productively contribute to the analysis of the democratic political sphere? This article treats this question through an analysis not only of Sigmund Freud's incursions into what he called “a wider social stage” but also of his daughter's particular contributions to the topic. Anna Freud was the official inheritor of the psychoanalytic movement, and it was her task to transform the movement into a stable (political) organization with rules of conduct and of the transmission of knowledge. The author traces this transformation through the debates that surrounded professional psychoanalytic training, in particular through the problem of the so-called training analysis. The institutionalization of psychoanalysis has much to tell us, she argues, about the problems inherent in the institutionalization of politics.
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Suzanne Stewart-Steinberg; A Wider Social Stage. differences 1 May 2009; 20 (1): 117–156. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-2008-019
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