Psychosocial studies is methodologically and theoretically diverse, drawing on a wide range of intellectual resources. However, psychoanalysis has often taken a privileged position within this diversity, because of its well-developed conceptual vocabulary that can be put to use to theorise the psychosocial subject. Its practices have become a model for some aspects of psychosocial work, especially in relation to its focus on intense study of individuals, its explicit engagement with ethical relations, and its traversing of disciplinary boundaries across the arts, humanities and social sciences.
This article begins with a brief description of some principles of psychosocial thinking, including its transdisciplinarity and criticality and its interest in ethics and in reflexivity. It then explores the place of psychoanalysis in this genealogy, presenting the case for psychoanalysis’ continuing contribution to the development of psychosocial studies. It is argued that this case is a strong one, but that the critique of psychoanalysis from the discursive, postcolonial, feminist and queer perspectives that are also found in psychosocial studies is important. The claim will be made that the engagement between psychoanalysis and its psychosocial critics is fundamentally productive. Even though it generates real tensions, these tensions are necessary and significant, reflecting genuine struggles over how best to understand the socially constructed human subject.
Anderson, W., Jenson, D. and Keller, R. (2011) Introduction: globalizing the unconscious, in W. Anderson, D. Jenson and R. Keller (eds) Unconscious dominions: Psychoanalysis, colonial trauma and global sovereignties, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Baraitser, L. (2015) Temporal drag: transdisciplinarity and the ‘case’ of psychosocial studies, Theory, Culture & Society, 32: 207–31. doi:
Benjamin, J. (2015) Masculinity, complex: a historical take, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 16: 271–7. doi:
Bhabha, H. (2004) The location of culture, London: Routledge.
Billig, M. (1997) The dialogic unconscious: psychoanalysis, discursive psychology and the nature of repression, British Journal of Social Psychology, 36: 139–59. doi:
Blackman, L. (2008) Affect, relationality and the ‘problem of personality’, Theory, Culture & Society, 25: 23–47. doi:
Brickman, C. (2003) Aboriginal populations in the mind, New York, NY: Columbia University Press.
Burman, E. (2018) Fanon, education, action, London: Routledge.
Butler, J. (1997) The psychic life of power, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Butler, J. (2005) Giving an account of oneself, New York, NY: Fordham University Press.
Derrida, J. (1976) Of grammatology, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Fanon, F. ( 1986) Black skin, white masks, London: Pluto Press.
Felman, S. (1982) To open the question, in S. Felman (ed) Literature and psychoanalysis: The question of reading: Otherwise, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Fletcher, J. and Ray, N. (eds) (2014) Seductions and enigmas: Laplanche, theory, culture, London: Lawrence & Wisehart.
Freud, S. (1910) ‘Wild’ psycho-analysis, The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, volume XI (1910): Five lectures on psycho-analysis, Leonardo da Vinci and other works, pp 219–28.
Freud, S. (1913) Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement between the Mental Lives of Savages and Neurotics (1913 [1912–13]), The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIII (1913–1914): Totem and Taboo and Other Works, pp ii–162.
Freud, S. (1917) Mourning and melancholia, The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, volume XIV (1914–1916): On the history of the psycho-analytic movement, papers on metapsychology and other works, pp 237–58.
Freud, S. (1925) Some psychical consequences of the anatomical distinction between the sexes, The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud, volume XIX (1923–1925): The Ego and the Id and other works, pp 243–60.
Frosh, S. (2003) Psychosocial studies and psychology: is a critical approach emerging?, Human Relations, 56: 1547–67. doi:
Frosh, S. (2006) For and against psychoanalysis (second edition), London: Routledge.
Frosh, S. (2007) Disintegrating qualitative research, Theory and Psychology, 17: 635–53. doi:
Frosh, S. (2010) Psychoanalysis outside the clinic: Interventions in psychosocial studies, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Frosh, S. (2015) Beyond recognition, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 20: 379–94. doi:
Frosh, S. (2017) Primitivity and violence: traces of the unconscious in psychoanalysis, Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, 37: 34–47. doi:
Frosh, S. and Baraitser, L. (2008) Psychoanalysis and psychosocial studies, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 13: 346–65. doi:
Frosh, S. and Saville Young, L. (2011) Using psychoanalytic methodology in psychosocial research: researching brothers, in J. Mason and A. Dale (eds) Understanding social research: Thinking creatively about method, London: Sage Publications.
Gellner, E. (1985) The psychoanalytic movement, London: Paladin.
Gherovici, P. (2010) Please select your gender: From the invention of hysteria to the democratizing of transgenderism, New York, NY: Routledge.
Goldner, V. (2003) Ironic gender/authentic sex, Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 4: 113–39. doi:
Greedharry, A. (2008) Postcolonial theory and psychoanalysis, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Grünbaum, A. (2002) Critique of psychoanalysis, in E. Erwin (ed) The Freud encyclopaedia, London: Routledge.
Hollway, W. (2015) Knowing mothers, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hollway, W. and Jefferson, T. (2000) Doing qualitative research differently, London: Sage Publications.
Hook, D. (2008) The ‘real’ of racializing embodiment, Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology, 18: 140–52. doi:
Hook, D. (2017) What is ‘enjoyment as a political factor’?, Political Psychology, 38: 605–20. doi:
Hook, D. (2018) Racism and jouissance: evaluating the ‘racism as (the theft of) enjoyment’ hypothesis, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 23: 244–66. doi:
Hughes, E. (2017) Adopted women and biological fathers, London: Routledge.
Jacoby, R. (1975) Social amnesia, Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Press.
Khanna, R. (2004) Dark continents: Psychoanalysis and colonialism, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.
Laplanche, J. (1999) The unfinished copernican revolution, in J. Laplanche, Essays on otherness, London: Routledge.
Lapping, C. (2012) Psychoanalysis in social research, London: Routledge.
Lévinas, E. ( 1998) Entre nous: On thinking of the other, London: Athlone.
Palacios, M. (2013) Radical sociality, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Parker, I. (2005) Lacanian discourse analysis in psychology: seven theoretical elements, Theory and Psychology, 15: 163–82. doi:
Rieff, P. (1966) The triumph of the therapeutic, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
Roseneil, S. (2006) The ambivalences of angel’s ‘arrangement’: a psycho-social lens on the contemporary condition of personal life, The Sociological Review, 54: 846–68. doi:
Rustin, M. (1991) The good society and the inner world, London: Verso.
Rustin, M. (2008) For dialogue between psychoanalysis and constructionism, Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 13: 406–15. doi:
Sabsay, L. (2016) The political imaginary of sexual freedom, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Saville Young, L. and Frosh, S. (2010) ‘And where were your brothers in all this?’: a psychosocial approach to texts on ‘brothering’, Qualitative Research, 10: 511–31. doi:
Segal, H. (1973) Introduction to the work of Melanie Klein, London: Hogarth Press.
Segal, L. (1999) Why feminism?, Cambridge: Polity Press.
Vyrgioti, M. (2018) The cannibal trope: a psychosocial critique of psychoanalysis’ colonial fantasies, unpublished PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.
Wetherell, M. (2003) Paranoia, ambivalence and discursive practices: concepts of position and positioning in psychoanalysis and discursive psychology, in R. Harré and F. Moghaddam (eds) The self and others: Positioning individuals and groups in personal, political and cultural contexts, New York, NY: Praeger/Greenwood Publishers.
Wetherell, M. (2012) Affect and emotion: A new social science understanding, London: Sage Publications.
|May 2022 onwards||Past Year||Past 30 Days|
|Full Text Views||72||71||2|