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New Left Review I/32, July-August 1965

Igor Caruso

Psychoanalysis and Society

As a technique of human investigation, psychoanalysis has always been based on the patient’s concrete relationship with the world, since it starts from the reworking and reliving of the patient’s memories within the specific relationship of the analytical situation. The novelty of this technique is that man is studied in relation to the way he modifies himself and modifies the world. This is the fundamental difference of this technique from all earlier ones: it is not an exterior contemplation undertaken by two people without obligation to each other. The difference of principle between a dialectical approach and a metaphysical and positivist approach lies precisely in this fact. Methods which start from an essentialist position look at man from the outside and try to establish his nature or static character. Dialectical method, on the contrary, is necessarily and consciously a ‘praxis’, because it admits that consciousness changes the world and that the world changes consciousness. It is thus perfectly legitimate to speak of a latent dialectic in even the most orthodox psychoanalysis because it shares what is fundamental to any dialectic: namely, of being, by necessity, a ‘praxis’ which modifies the reciprocal relationship of subject and object in a historical and totalizing perspective. Like any dialectic, psychoanalysis is a constant and fluid passage from one determination to another. At every stage of its spiral, contradictions are transcended and integrated anew. There is always a reciprocity between man and the world (the world of man being, before everything else, other men), rather than the linear, unilateral causality of metaphysics or mechanistic positivism.

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Igor Caruso, ‘Psychoanalysis and Society’, NLR I/32: £3

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