Thinking about Identity

NOBUS3aIn this book, Professor Dany Nobus and I worked through a set of methodological issues in the application of psychoanalysis as a body of knowledge.  We argued that psychoanalysis has no knowledge that can be applied in straightforward way by academic disciplines and that it should be understood as knowledge ‘in check’. Professor Nobus examined the status of psychoanalytic research through a reading of Freud’s late essay ‘The Question of a Weltanschauung’ of 1932, in which Freud argues that psychoanalysis is not a worldview and that all worldviews that profess to achieve coherence are idealistic and illusory. Through a reading of Jacques Lacan’s seminar XVII, I argued that psychoanalysis is not a theoretical model that is applied to a real world situation but is rather a technique that opens up a difference between language as model and language as artifice.  This is a gap that emerges between a personal or interpersonal revelation on the one hand, and a ‘system error’ on the other.  The possibility of such a ‘system error’, Lacan argues, is what allows for a definition of the unconscious as ethical rather than an ontic, a differentiation that Lacan attributes to Jeremy Bentham and his ‘Theory of Fictions’.   In an article ‘Stupidity is Anything at All’ for the journalParallax 19:3 (2013) I developed this idea further within an analysis of Karl Marx’s position that Jeremy Bentham was the epitome of bourgeois stupidity.  I argued, contra Marx, that Bentham’s thought opens up a difference between representation and system within the conceptualization of stupidity, that introduces a form of critical agency that allows culture to be defined as ‘anything at all’.   If, for Joseph Hume, civilization is defined by a standard of taste embodied in a practice of taste, for Bentham, civilization is defined by the possibility of a difference between a standard and a system.

Select Citations

Angie Voela, ‘Catastrophe Survived? The Failure of the Tragic in Moira Buffini’s Welcome to Thebes’Somatechnics (3:1) 2013, pp.133-148

Joseph D. O’Neil, ‘The Shame of the Political: Truth as Vocation in Gracian, Lacan and Badiou’ Angelaki (17:1) 2012, pp.83-98

Gilles Arnaud, ‘The Contribution of Psychoanalysis to Organization Studies and Management: An Overview’Organization Studies (33:9) 2012, pp.1121-1135, p.1124

Claudia Lapping, Psychoanalysis in Social Research: Shifting Theories and Reframing Concepts, London: Routledge 2012  p.11

Ian Parker, Lacanian Psychoanalysis: Revolutions in Subjectivity, London:Routledge 2011 pp. 78, 179

Fabio Vighi, On Zizek’s Dialectics, London: Continuum 2010 p.127, 131

Karen R. Malone and John L. Roberts ‘In the World of Language but not of It: Lacanian Inquiry into the Subject of Discourse Psychology’, Theory Psychology (20:6) 2010, 723-731, p.835

Stephen Frosh, ‘Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Identity’ in S. Frosh (ed.) The Sage Handbook of Identities, London: Sage 2010, p.39

Victoria Grace, ‘The Desiring, Gendered Speaking being: Going a Bit Further with Ussher on Women and Depression’
 Feminism & Psychology (20:2) 2010, pp.272-277, pp. 274-5

Sidney Walker ‘Artmaking, Subjectivity and Signification’ Studies in Art Education (51:1) 2009

Stephen Frosh and Lisa Baraitser, ‘Pyschoanalysis and Psychosocial Studies’ Pyschoanalysis, Culture and Society, (13) 2008, pp.346-365


2005 With Professor Dany Nobus: Knowing Nothing, Staying Stupid: Elements for a Psychoanalytic Epistemology, London: Routledge

Peer-reviewed journal articles

Book Chapters

2013 ‘Art and Psychoanalysis (Among Other Discourses)’ in Kivland, S. and Segal, N. (eds.) Vicissitudes: Histories and Destines of Psychoanalysis, London: IGRS/UCL

2011 ‘Chigurh’s Haircut: Three Dialogues on Provocation’ in Corris, M. Joseph-Lester, J. & Kivland, S. Transmission Annual: Provocation, London: Artwords Press

2010 ‘Insight and Rigor: A Freudo-Lacanian Approach’ in Biggs, M. & Karlsson, H. eds.The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, London: Routledge


2008 ‘On Liberty and Art: Aesthetics and the Social Bond in Schiller and Lacan’ lecture for CLiC Circle for Lacanian Ideology Critique, Jan van Eyck Academy, Maastricht

25 November 2006 Chaired panel on ‘Psychoanalysis and the Arts’ as convenor for the arts for ‘Psychoanalysis the Arts and Humanities’ AHRC network event, Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, School of Advanced Study Birkbeck, University of London