Psy Ethics

Authored by: Ian Parker

Routledge Handbook of Psychoanalytic Political Theory

Print publication date:  September  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138696310
eBook ISBN: 9781315524771
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter focuses on conceptions of ethics, arguing that it is necessary to refuse conceptions of ethics purveyed by these component parts of the psy-complex if we are to arrive at an authentically psychoanalytic grounding for ethics. This problematic is explored through the work of one of the most prominent of the anti-psychiatrists, Thomas Szasz (1920–2012), who is usually represented in the human sciences as complaining about the medical model of mental illness. The fact that he trained first as a psychiatrist and then as a psychoanalyst and furthermore practiced as a psychoanalyst throughout his career is overlooked. The chapter foregrounds the place of Szasz in the broader frame of the psy-complex—the network of theories and practices pertaining to the construction and regulation of subjectivity—to show that he was actually profoundly psychiatric, psychological, and psychotherapeutic. Rather than applying psychoanalysis to the problematic of psychology and psychiatry to discover what a correct reformulation of each of those psy practices would entail, psychoanalysis is also treated as a problematic, a field of debate as intense as the debate inside psychology and psychiatry, and it is political theory that provides the contested frame for an immanent critique of Szasz and dominant conceptions of ethics in the human sciences.

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