1 min read

Bollas on analyzing our problematic unconscious stuff

From the preface to Christopher Bollas's book Meaning and Melancholia: Live in the Age of Bewilderment.

Any psychological analysis of human behaviour involves us in making judgements about the psychotic and non-psychotic parts of selves, about the homicidal and the constructive aspects, about our sexist and racist biases and our more inclusive and tolerant ways of thinking. To identify the disturbed parts of ourselves is not to pathologize people, any more than identifying lethal levels of air pollution in Delhi or Beijing is to pathologize the weather.

I really liked reading this. It is a good way of saying that examining the problematic aspects of ourselves and our larger social groups is not necessarily an attack on our self or our social group.

What I'd like is for us to be able to do this on a personal and social level without fear that whatever problems we reveal will result in ourselves or others being publicly shamed (i.e., canceled).

Later in the same preface, Bollas points out how what is often called cancel culture today could be read as a fear of our minds and our inner worlds:

We are in urgent need of ways to understand and reorganize societies so that culture – frames of mind – can be steered towards more generative paths. We are hampered, however, by fifty years of psychophobia: a hatred of looking into the mind for fear of what we shall find. A symptomatic fear of the word “psychoanalysis”, even the wish that it be obliterated (“it is dead – and by the way was a scam”), is only the tip of an iceberg. Rejection of insight and talking therapies expresses a fear of having a mind (which comes with a conscience). But the unconscious solution to give our- selves over to non-human “forces” (market, technological, electoral) is profoundly self-destructive.

I suspect I'll post more from this book in the coming days and weeks.