Steven Reisner: Stop Saying Donald Trump is Mentally Ill

“Sigmund Freud had a word for those whose unique gifts permit them to bend reality to their will: artists. According to Freud, the artist “allows his erotic and ambitious wishes full play in the life of fantasy. He finds the way back to reality, however, from this world of fantasy by making use of special gifts to mold his fantasies into truths of a new kind.” Trump has to be understood, then, as a reality artist, one who is adept at the strategies that turn his biggest whoppers into reality. It is reminiscent of Charles Foster Kane, in Orson Welles’ classic film, who, when informed by the war reporter he dispatched to Cuba that there was no war to be found but only delightful girls and beautiful scenery worthy of prose poems, famously replied, “Dear Wheeler, you provide the prose po...Read More

Book Launch: “Lacan on Laughter—The new LOL” with Simon Critchley, Patricia Gherovici, Dany Nobus, Manya Steinkoler, and Jamieson Webster

How to fight a situation that seems farcical? When reality reaches absurdity, the subversive power of laughter steps in. Laughter is never innocent, it happens to us, at times inappropriately and inauspiciously. Psychoanalysis is well known for having shed some light on the perennial mysteries of what we do not control – dreams, parapraxes, symptoms, and sexual problems. While the Freudian slip and the bungled act have become part of Western culture’s lingua franca, it is less commonly known that psychoanalysis provides revelatory insights about the mechanisms of jokes, comedy, humor and their effects. Many people today would happily admit to their Oedipus Complex, but few would feel comfortable reflecting on why they laugh at the humiliation of their co-worker, titter at an ethnic or sexi...Read More

Steven Reisner: Crazy Like a Fox – Evil is Not a Psychiatric Illness

Steven Reisner argues that Trump’s tactical strategies, including lying and bullying, have been such successful political strategies that they cannot be used as evidence of mental illness. I argue that the only delusion in such a successful manipulation of the truth for political advantage is our delusion that Trump is delusional. An analogy would be calling Kane delusional for believing there was a war in Cuba, in Citizen Kane: Kane: Read the cable [from the reporter in Havana]. Bernstein: “Girls delightful in Cuba. Stop. Could send you prose poems about scenery, but don’t feel right spending your money. Stop. There is no war in Cuba, signed Wheeler.” Any answer? Kane: Yes. “Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I’ll provide the war.” Was Kan...Read More

11 Questions to Vanessa Sinclair

“The basic idea is that in order to become a psychoanalyst, one needs three components: one must undergo one’s own analysis, one must see analysands while being supervised by an analyst, and one must study psychoanalysis, take didactics, classes, attend lectures, etc. It’s a field in which there is lifelong learning, and if you are passionate about it, that seems obvious. So these training institutes offer these three components in a formal, organized way, but they aren’t actually necessary. Most people who tread the path towards becoming a psychoanalyst already have a clinical degree, whether it is a PhD, PsyD, LCSW, MD, at least in this country. Other places are more open about training what are called lay-analysts or psychoanalysts that may come from a non-clinical background. The...Read More

David Bell: New Barbarisms

All cultures develop their own modes of self-explanation, but such explanations, somewhat like symptoms, inevitably conceal as much as they reveal. In this sense psychoanalysis may be well placed to enter into a critical relation with the forms of consciousness that characterize our age. At the current conjuncture we are witnessing an escalating descent into a kind of institutionalized barbarism which unleashes forms of group behavior which require a social and psychological understanding. The time seems right to return to the classic texts that ache to address these matters- Freud’s ‘Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego’, ‘Civilization and its Discontents’, and Theodor Adorno’s ‘Freudian theory and the Pattern of Fascist Propaganda’. We will engage in a close reading of these text...Read More

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