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Complicating the happy cure: psychoanalysis and the ends of analysis

Wright, Colin

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Nicholas Hill

Svend Brinkmann

Anders Petersen


This chapter explores the relative sidelining of psychoanalysis in critical approaches to Happiness Studies thus far. It argues that this stems from an American strand of psychoanalysis known as ego-psychology which forms an unacknowledged element in the genealogy of Happiness Studies itself. However, the chapter focusses primarily on Jacques Lacan’s critical interventions into ego-psychology and his elaboration of a contrasting psychoanalytic theory and practice. It is claimed that Lacan’s criticisms of happiness as an ego-based therapeutic ideology, and his related suspicion of models of ‘cure’, constitute a crucial resource for critical approaches to Happiness Studies. Finally, it is argued that, to this end, psychoanalysis is best approached as a clinical practice involving a tact with the subjective demand for happiness, rather than as a social or cultural theory that supports a generalised critique of happiness as a neoliberal ideology but misses, thereby, the affective hold over intimacy and sociality contemporary happiness has.

Acceptance Date Sep 5, 2017
Online Publication Date Dec 5, 2019
Publication Date Dec 5, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 7, 2017
Publicly Available Date Jun 6, 2021
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 177-192
Book Title Critical Happiness Studies
Chapter Number 11
ISBN 9781138304437
Keywords Happiness Studies, Psychoanalysis, Lacan
Public URL
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