The Psychoanalytic Vision
The Experiencing Subject, Transcendence, and the Therapeutic Process
In The Psychoanalytic Vision: The Experiencing Subject, Transcendence, and the Therapeutic Process (Routledge, 2013), Frank Summers has written a wholly original work of theory, technique and cultural critique. Privileging terms not often used in psychoanalytic writing, among them romanticism, transcendence and futurity, Summers documents an as yet undocumented shift in the field. In an effort to buttress the standing of psychoanalysis as a science, psychoanalysts previously attempted to delineate certain laws pertaining to the psyche, ranging from the Oedipus complex to notions of the self; now, according to Summers, the majority of analysts attend primarily to the experience of their patients. As such, psychoanalysis has become a “science of the subjective.”
Critiquing the field for reifying concepts like “the unconscious” and for perhaps unwittingly playing along with a culture that maximally commodifies humanity, Summers suggests we position psychoanalysis on the perimeter of the American mainstream. “Any view of analysis that presupposes a norm,” he writes, “may justifiably be labeled wild analysis, irrespective of theoretical content.” In fact he cogently argues that there may be a new divide among analysts that has nothing to do with metapsychology but rather more to do with technique. The new “classical” analyst applies theory to their clinical work deductively, using the patient to prove a theory right rather than exploring with the patient what constitutes their sense of things.
Influenced by Loewald, Benjamin, Stern, Heidegger, Husserl and Winnicott, among others, Summers has nevertheless developed his own clinical metier. When he turns his trenchant eye to the culture and the impact of new technologies upon us, one shivers with recognition. It is high time that psychoanalysts begin to take on the culture industry, assessing its powerful impact on what it means to be human. In this interview Summers does this and more.