The Effect of Liberalism on the Development of Clinical Professions

Special report: “Psychoanalysis, the Body and Society”
By Marie-Jean Sauret, Sidi Askofaré

The so-called ideology of neoliberalism cannot be reduced to simply a type of economic order—its impact on civilization itself should also be assessed. Firstly, it produces a new kind of anthropology through which subjects are asked to conceive of themselves; secondly, it enlists a number of academic disciplines (psychology, psychiatry, economy, etc.) in the theorization of the “new individual” essential to its own development and perpetuation; and finally its ideology interprets various types of psychological malfunctioning and other psychical effects as simply risks to be eliminated. The clinician thus finds himself faced with a dilemma: to adapt to the globalizing world and help perpetuate an anthropology which ultimately leads to the eradication of any clinic of the subject, or to help restore and make room for the dimension of the symptom, respecting its function as an objection to the subject’s being formatted by an Other – and, as a consequence, to find himself in a symptomatic position. However, the “mental health” reforms currently being carried out throughout Europe (certainly in France) seem to persecute this position not only at the hospital but also in the sphere of education and the legal system. How can we conceive of, if not a way out, at least an ethical position?

  • social bond
  • liberalism
  • contemporary clinic
  • modern subjectivity
  • new symptoms
  • clinical professions
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