Taking Lauran Berlant’s “cruel optimism” as exemplary of recent attempts to integrate psychoanalysis and ideology critique, this essay focuses on the psychological paradigm underlying such an evocative phrase in order to demonstrate that even the most capacious interpretations of psychosocial experience are only ever as radical as their metapsychological foundations. As such, while Berlant’s defense of people’s bad attachments may seem compassionate compared to intellectuals who “shit” on dreams, a deeper analysis of cruel optimism’s metapsychology reveals that this compassion is obtained through the inadvertent dismissal of psychosexuality.

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