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    Psychoanalysis is a method of inquiry that seeks to uncover the deep-seated psychological structures that shape human behavior, emotions, and beliefs. At its core, psychoanalysis is concerned with the exploration of the unconscious mind, which is believed to be the repository of repressed memories, unresolved conflicts, and other hidden motives that influence human actions.

    The most popular schools of psychoanalysis is the Freudian or classical psychoanalytic school, followed by Jungianism and Lacanianism.

    Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    Model of the Mental Apparatus[edit | edit source]

    Consciousness plays a role in shaping behavior, but it's not the only factor; the unconscious mind also influences our actions, often winning out in its constant struggle with consciousness. The psyche operates under the pleasure principle, adapting to reality when desires clash with societal norms or personal acceptance. Dreams and slips provide glimpses into the unconscious. Freud described the psyche in three ways: descriptively (not analyzed), dynamically (in conflict with consciousness), and structurally (governed by special laws). The preconscious lies between the conscious and unconscious, potentially accessible with attention, containing free associations.

    Freud's later model divided the psyche into three parts: the id (desires), the ego (conscious decision-making), and the superego (introspection and morality). This structural model advanced psychoanalytic theory, particularly in understanding mental disorders and defense mechanisms, but some clarity from earlier theories was lost. Freud didn't fully integrate these models, leaving it to later analysts to reconcile them, with various approaches emerging worldwide.

    Id[edit | edit source]

    The id, according to Sigmund Freud, is the part of the unconscious that seeks pleasure. His idea of the id explains why people act out in certain ways when it is not in line with the ego or superego. The id is the part of the mind, which holds all of humankind's most basic and primal instincts. It's the impulsive, unconscious part of the mind that is based on the desire to seek immediate satisfaction. The id does not have a grasp on any form of reality or consequence. Freud understood that some people are controlled by the id because it makes people engage in need-satisfying behavior without any accordance with what is right or wrong. Freud compared the id and the ego to a horse and a rider. The id is compared to the horse, which is directed and controlled, by the ego or the rider. This example goes to show that although the id is supposed to be controlled by the ego, they often interact with one another according to the drives of the ego. Id is made up of two biological instincts. Eros which is the life instinct and Thanatos which is the death instinct.

    • Freud did not use the terms "Eros" nor "Thanatos" to describe his theories, rather, it was added by later psychologists.
    Ego[edit | edit source]

    In order for people to maintain a realistic sense here on earth, the ego is responsible for creating a balance between pleasure and pain. It is impossible for all desires of the id to be met and the ego realizes this but continues to seek pleasure and satisfaction. Although the ego does not know the difference between right and wrong, it is aware that not all drives can be met at a given time. The reality principle is what the ego operates in order to help satisfy the id's demands as well as compromising according to reality. The ego is a person's "self" composed of unconscious desires. The ego takes into account ethical and cultural ideals in order to balance out the desires originating in the id. Although both the id and the ego are unconscious, the ego has close contact with the perceptual system. The ego has the function of self-preservation, which is why it has the ability to control the instinctual demands from the id.

    Superego[edit | edit source]

    The superego, which develops around age four or five, incorporates the morals of society. Freud believed that the superego is what allows the mind to control its impulses that are looked down upon morally. The superego can be considered to be the conscience of the mind because it has the ability to distinguish between reality as well as what is right or wrong. Without the superego, Freud believed people would act out with aggression and other immoral behaviors because the mind would have no way of understanding the difference between right and wrong. The superego is considered to be the "consciousness" of a person's personality and can override the drives from the id. Freud separates the superego into two separate categories; the ideal self and the conscience. The conscience contains ideals and morals that exist within a society that prevent people from acting out based on their internal desires. The ideal self contains images of how people ought to behave according to society's ideals.

    Defense Mechanisms[edit | edit source]

    Freud outlined several ways our minds protect us:

    1. Substitution: Redirecting emotions to safer targets, like getting angry at loved ones after a bad day at work.
    2. Reactive Formation: Suppressing unwanted feelings and adopting their opposite, like becoming overly affectionate towards someone you secretly dislike.
    3. Compensation: Overachieving in one area to make up for perceived deficiencies in another.
    4. Repression: Pushing threatening thoughts into the unconscious, but they can still surface in slips of the tongue or dreams.
    5. Negation: Refusing to acknowledge unpleasant realities.
    6. Projection: Attributing one's own unacceptable feelings onto others, like seeing "dirty" intentions in innocent actions.
    7. Sublimation: Channeling unacceptable impulses into socially acceptable activities, like redirecting sexual desires into creative pursuits.
    8. Rationalization: Justifying actions with seemingly logical explanations, even if they're driven by instinctual urges.
    9. Regression: Reverting to childlike behaviors in times of stress or overload, such as crying or sulking.

    Anna Freud and others later expanded this list to include around 30 defense mechanisms.

    Variants[edit | edit source]

    Freudianism[edit | edit source]

    Religion[edit | edit source]

    Freud's psychoanalytic perspective viewed religion as the unconscious mind's need for wish fulfillment. Because people need to feel secure and absolve themselves of their own guilt, Freud believed that they choose to believe in God, who represents a powerful father-figure.

    Psychosexual Development[edit | edit source]

    Freud believed that our personalities develop through a series of stages during childhood, where we focus on certain areas of our bodies that are sensitive to stimulation, also known as erogenous zones. There are five of these stages: oral, anal, phallic, latent, and genital, and each one is associated with a particular erogenous zone that gives us pleasure. If we're not satisfied during any one of these stages, it can lead to fixation, while satisfaction can help us develop a healthy personality.

    However, if a child experiences frustration during any of the psychosexual developmental stages, it can cause anxiety that may persist into adulthood as a functional mental disorder, known as a neurosis. Freud believed that this could happen because the child's pleasure-seeking energies became focused on that particular stage, and they were unable to move on to the next one.

    According to Freud, sexual infantilism refers to the failure of a child in satisfying their sexual drive or libido due to disapproval from parents or society. This can lead to anxiety and fixation on the erogenous zone associated with the failure. The fixation can persist into adulthood, shaping an individual's personality and potentially causing mental ailments like neurosis, hysteria, "female hysteria," or personality disorders.

    Stage[1] Age Range[1] Erogenous zone[1] Consequences of psychologic fixation
    Oral Birth–1 year Mouth Orally aggressive: chewing gum and the ends of pencils, etc.
    Orally passive: smoking, eating, kissing, oral sexual practices[2]
    Oral stage fixation might result in a passive, gullible, immature, manipulative personality.
    Anal 1–3 years Bowel and bladder elimination Anal retentive: Obsessively organized, or excessively neat
    Anal expulsive: reckless, careless, defiant, disorganized, coprophiliac
    Phallic 3–6 years Genitalia Oedipus complex (in boys and girls); according to Sigmund Freud.
    Electra complex (in girls); according to Carl Jung. Promiscuity and low self-esteem in both sexes.
    Latency 6–puberty Dormant sexual feelings Immaturity and an inability to form fulfilling non-sexual relationships as an adult if fixation occurs in this stage.
    Genital Puberty–death Sexual interests mature Frigidity, impotence, sexual perversion, great difficulty in forming a healthy sexual relationship with another person
    Oral stage[edit | edit source]

    During the first stage of psychosexual development, known as the oral stage, which occurs from birth to around one year old, the child experiences sexual pleasure from activities such as feeding at the mother's breast and exploring their environment through their mouth. The id dominates this stage since the ego and super ego have not yet fully developed, and every action is based on the pleasure principle. However, the infantile ego is starting to form, and the child begins to understand their body image and the boundaries between their body and the external world. They also start to learn delayed gratification and that specific behaviors can satisfy certain needs.

    The weaning process is a critical experience in the oral stage, as it is the child's first experience of loss and the end of the physical intimacy of feeding at the mother's breast. Weaning helps the child learn that they do not control their environment, which leads to the development of independence and trust. However, if the oral-stage needs are not met, such as not getting enough or getting too much gratification, it can result in fixation. If the child gets too much gratification, they may become passive, immature, and manipulative. In contrast, if they receive too little gratification, they may become passive and give up too easily.

    Anal stage[edit | edit source]

    The second stage of psychosexual development is the anal stage, which takes place from the age of 18 months to 3 years. During this stage, the infant's focus shifts from the mouth to the anus as their erogenous zone. The child's experience of toilet training is a key event of the anal stage, during which the id (seeking immediate gratification) and the ego (seeking delayed gratification) come into conflict. The way in which parents handle toilet training can have a significant impact on the resolution of this conflict, with gradual and moderate demands leading to a self-controlled adult, and immoderate demands potentially leading to the development of a compulsive or self-indulgent personality.

    The optimal resolution of the id-ego conflict is for the child to learn the value of physical cleanliness and environmental order through moderate parental demands. This promotes the development of a self-controlled adult. However, if parents overemphasize toilet training, it may result in the development of a compulsive personality, while a self-indulgent personality may develop if the child follows the id and the parents yield. On the other hand, if the parents are too controlling, the child may develop a weak sense of self.

    Phallic stage[edit | edit source]

    The phallic stage of psychosexual development occurs between the ages of three to six and focuses on a child's genitalia as their primary erogenous zone. During this stage, children become aware of their bodies, those of their peers, and their parents. They learn physical and sexual differences between genders and associated social roles. Boys experience the Oedipus complex, which is son-father competition for possession of the mother, and girls experience the Electra complex, daughter-mother competition for psychosexual possession of the father. Initially, Freud applied the Oedipus complex to both boys and girls, but later developed the feminine Oedipus attitude and the negative Oedipus complex for girls. Carl Jung coined the term Electra complex in 1913, which Freud rejected as inaccurate. Karen Horney has disputed Freud's theory and proposed the concept of womb envy instead. Defense mechanisms, such as repression and identification, provide temporary resolutions to the id-ego conflict. Unresolved psychosexual competition for the opposite-sex parent might result in fixation and lead to abnormal personality traits. Therefore, satisfactory parental handling and resolution of the Oedipus and Electra complexes are crucial for infantile development.

    Latency stage[edit | edit source]

    The latency stage of psychosexual development occurs between the ages of six years to puberty. The child reinforces the character traits developed in the earlier three stages. Due to the repression of the instinctual drives during the phallic stage, the child's defense mechanism makes these drives inaccessible to the ego. The child derives pleasure from external activities such as schooling, friendships, and hobbies as the gratification is delayed during the latency stage. Any neuroses arising during this stage may result from the failure to direct energy towards socially acceptable activities or from the inadequate resolution of the Oedipus conflict.

    Genital stage[edit | edit source]

    The genital stage of psychosexual development is the fifth and final stage, which begins during puberty and continues through adulthood. The primary objective of this stage is to achieve psychological independence from one's parents. During the genital stage, unresolved psychosexual conflicts from childhood are confronted and resolved. While the phallic stage is also focused on the genitalia, the genital stage involves consensual and adult sexuality, as opposed to infantile and solitary sexuality. The key difference between the phallic and genital stages is that in the latter, the ego is well-established, and the individual's focus shifts from fulfilling primary desires to satisfying them through symbolic and intellectual means such as romantic relationships, family, friendships, and adult responsibilities.

    Oedipus Complex and Electra Complex[edit | edit source]

    According to Freud, the Oedipus complex is a normal and universal aspect of human development that arises during the phallic stage of psychosexual development, which occurs between the ages of 3 and 6 years old. During this stage, the child becomes aware of their own genitals and begins to experience sexual feelings and desires.

    In the case of a male child, the Oedipus complex involves a desire for the mother and feelings of hostility and jealousy toward the father, whom the child sees as a rival for the mother's affection. The child may also experience castration anxiety, which refers to a fear of losing his penis as punishment for his forbidden sexual desires. In response to these feelings, the child may repress his sexual desires and identify with the father as a way of resolving the conflict.

    In the case of a female child, the Oedipus complex is somewhat different. Freud proposed that girls experience a parallel process known as the Electra complex, in which they desire their father and feel jealousy and hostility toward their mother. However, Freud later revised his theory to suggest that the female Oedipus complex is less intense and less universal than the male version, and that girls may resolve the conflict by identifying with the mother instead of the father.

    Dreams and the Unconscious[edit | edit source]

    According to Sigmund Freud, dreams are created through two mental processes. The first process involves unconscious forces that generate a wish that is expressed in the dream, and the second process is the act of censorship that distorts the expression of the wish. Freud believed that all dreams are forms of "wish fulfillment" (except for some dreams discussed in Beyond the Pleasure Principle). Freud's belief that dreams can be interpreted immediately puts him in opposition to prevailing theories of dreams.

    Freud suggested that an analyst can distinguish between the manifest content and latent content of a dream. The manifest content is the remembered narrative that unfolds in the dream, while the latent content is the underlying meaning of the dream. During sleep, the unconscious condenses, displaces, and transforms the dream content into representations, and the latent content of the dream is often unrecognizable to the individual upon waking.

    Defence Mechanisms[edit | edit source]

    Freudian defense mechanisms are psychological processes that we use unconsciously to protect ourselves from unpleasant emotions, thoughts, and experiences. These mechanisms can prevent us from feeling anxious, guilty, or ashamed, but they can also cause problems in our relationships and overall mental health. There are several types of defense mechanisms, and they vary in their effectiveness and adaptiveness. Some of the most common mechanisms include repression, denial, projection, displacement, and sublimation.

    • Repression involves pushing unwanted thoughts and memories into the unconscious mind, where they are inaccessible to conscious awareness. This can be useful in protecting ourselves from traumatic experiences, but it can also lead to problems if the repressed thoughts and emotions resurface later in life.
    • Denial involves refusing to accept or acknowledge a painful reality or emotion. This can be a way to avoid feeling anxious or overwhelmed, but it can also prevent us from dealing with the problem and finding solutions.
    • Projection involves attributing our own thoughts, feelings, and behaviors to others. This can be a way to avoid taking responsibility for our own actions, but it can also lead to misunderstandings and conflict in relationships.
    • Displacement involves redirecting our emotions or impulses from one target to another, usually a less threatening one. For example, if we are angry with our boss, we may come home and take it out on our family members. While this can provide temporary relief, it can also cause problems in our personal relationships.
    • Sublimation involves channeling our impulses into socially acceptable behaviors, such as creative or intellectual pursuits. This can be a healthy way to express our emotions and desires, but it can also lead to a disconnect between our thoughts and actions.

    Lacanian Psychoanalysis[edit | edit source]

    Mirror Stage[edit | edit source]

    The concept of the mirror stage, occurring between 6-18 months of a child's development, highlights the moment when a child recognizes their image in the mirror and begins to differentiate themselves from others. This stage marks the transition from the pre-linguistic, unified self to the Symbolic stage of language acquisition.

    During the mirror stage, the child experiences pleasure and fascination with their mirror image, perceiving it as a unified and ideal version of themselves. This image provides a sense of completeness and mastery that contrasts with the child's experience of their own fragmented body. The identification with the mirror image is crucial in establishing a sense of a unified self, although it also introduces a sense of alienation.

    Lacan argues that the ego emerges through this identification process, but it is based on an illusory image of wholeness and mastery. The ego's function is to maintain the illusion of coherence and refuse acceptance of fragmentation and alienation. The conflict between the fragmented sense of self and the imaginary autonomy of the ego sets the stage for future relations with others, as the subject becomes both dependent on and a rival to others for recognition.

    The Three Orders[edit | edit source]

    Lacanian Orders
    The Imaginary[edit | edit source]

    The Imaginary order is formed through the identification of the ego with the mirror image during the mirror stage. This relationship between the ego and its counterpart is characterized by a sense of alienation and narcissism. It is associated with consciousness, self-awareness and everyday reality. The Imaginary encompasses how individuals imagine others, interpret their communicative interactions, and construct their own identities. This gives rise to the illusions of wholeness, synthesis, autonomy, duality, and most importantly, similarity.

    The Imaginary often involves category mistakes, where the other two registers are mistaken for each other. The Real is misperceived as Symbolic, leading to symptoms like obsession and paranoia, while the Symbolic is misperceived as Real, leading to psychosomatic conversion symptoms. Despite being fictional or simulated, the phenomena of the Imaginary are necessary illusions or real abstractions. They are intrinsic to the existence of speaking subjects and have concrete effects on human realities.

    The Symbolic[edit | edit source]

    The Symbolic, often referred to as the "big Other", drawing on structuralist ideas, encompasses the socio-linguistic structures and dynamics that shape and determine us. According to Lacan, individual subjectivity relies on the collective Symbolic order. The analytic unconscious is viewed as a network of interlinked signifiers, structured like a language. It is through speech, the medium of the Symbolic, that the unconscious is interpreted. Lacan emphasizes that the unconscious is structured like "un langage," referring to logical and structural aspects of syntax and semantics rather than a specific natural language.

    According to Lacan, once the Symbolic order is established, it gives the impression of having always existed. The origin of language and what preceded it remain beyond our comprehension, leading to the understanding that questions of development lie outside the scope of psychoanalysis.

    The Real[edit | edit source]

    The Real is inherently different from the realms of the Imaginary and the Symbolic, which encompass conscious perception and communicable meaning. The Real resists being captured in comprehensible formulations using the signs of the Imaginary and the Symbolic. It is, as Lacan emphasizes, an "impossibility" in relation to reality.

    Lacan portrays the Real as an absolute fullness, devoid of absences or lacks, with the Symbolic injecting negativities into it. Language has the power to represent the Real as "missing" things, but the Real itself remains a presence of sheer plenitude.

    Clinical Structures and Defense Mechanisms[edit | edit source]

    Lacanianism proposes that individuals can be categorized into three "clinical structures": psychotic, perverse, or neurotic. Neurosis, the most common structure, further divides individuals into either hysterics or obsessives. These structures define a person's relationship with the Other and are associated with distinct defense mechanisms. Psychotics employ foreclosure, rejecting the father's authority in the Oedipus complex and consequently failing to develop a Symbolic unconscious. Perversions involve disavowal, where individuals deny that lack generates desire and designate a specific object as its cause, often a fetish. Neurotics rely on repression as their defense mechanism.

    Lacanian Topology[edit | edit source]

    Psychoanalytic Feminism[edit | edit source]

    Psychoanalytic Feminism is a theory of oppression, which asserts that men have an inherent psychological need to subjugate women. The root of men's compulsion to dominate women and women's minimal resistance to subjugation lies deep within the human psyche.

    Zizekianism[edit | edit source]

    Žižekianism is a political ideology, based on Slavoj Žižek, that is characterized by the advocation of Ideology Disintegrationism, but considering people cannot live without ideologies, and it also advocates utopic communism, considering that it is possible to realize a fast transition to a communist state without too many problems and even turn the whole world communist if people want.

    Interpassivity[edit | edit source]

    Slavoj Žižek and Robert Pfaller introduced the concept of interpassivity to explain the phenomenon wherein certain artworks appear to facilitate their own reception. In contrast to interactive works that require active participation from visitors to come alive, interpassive works are described as self-fulfilling. One could argue that they derive enjoyment themselves or, perhaps more accurately, we experience enjoyment through them. Žižek and Pfaller emphasize that these works enjoy "on our behalf," implying a passive enjoyment that occurs in our place.

    Subversive Affirmation and Over-Identification[edit | edit source]

    In Žižek's essay Why Are Laibach and the Neue Slowenische Kunst Not Fascists? he drew upon the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan to argue that Laibach, a band known for employing aesthetics reminiscent of totalitarian regimes, engaged in more than ironic imitation of communist state ideology. Instead, Žižek contended that Laibach's performances frustrated the system by over-identifying with the perverse, hidden aspects of the ideology and manipulating the process of transference with the totalitarian state.

    For subversive affirmation to be effective, Žižek asserted that it must address the system anonymously rather than targeting specific entities. In contrast to film theories that ascribe a particular gender identification to Lacan's concept of the gaze, subversive affirmation emphasizes the inconsistency of symbolic mandates and highlights the absence of a definitive authority figure, the "Big Other." Laibach, in line with this perspective, deliberately avoids both irony and the categorization of their work as art. They also disavow any intention of being explicitly subversive.

    Ideological Fantasy[edit | edit source]

    The question at hand is whether ideological belief begins with "knowing" or "doing." According to Žižek, it is the "doing" or action that takes precedence. The concept of fetishistic disavowal suggests that even if individuals are aware that commodities possess a fetishistic quality, they continue to engage in the illusion within the act of exchange. The participants are being fetishists in practice, not in theory. The inversion observed in commodity exchange occurs in action rather than in the mind. The concrete value of commodities, known as use-value, is expressed through its abstract universality, known as exchange-value and the relationships among different particular things. The illusion, therefore, takes place within the material reality and the acts themselves. While individuals may understand that Value in-itself does not exist, their behavior contradicts this understanding by treating particular things as if they possess universal value. The social process mediates their actions, but it is their actions that give rise to the social process. This unconscious illusion, which structures reality, is referred to as the ideological fantasy. Even if individuals possess knowledge about their actions, such as pretending the King is Absolute or believing money has substantial value, they continue to engage in these actions, following the King's authority or allowing money to dictate their acquisition of objects. If ideology were solely based on knowledge and not action, this entire process that shapes reality would not exist.

    Revival of Dialectical Materialism[edit | edit source]

    Slavoj Žižek's work, particularly Absolute Recoil and Less than Nothing, explores the significance of Hegelian dialectical philosophy in contemporary capitalism. He argues that to truly understand the modern world, we need a materialist and dialectical theory that encompasses society as a whole. Žižek emphasizes the importance of Hegelian dialectics and aims to draw attention to its relevance in a critical theory of 21st-century society.

    Žižek's dialectical materialism focuses on two main aspects: absolute recoil and retroactivity. Absolute recoil refers to the dialectical development that posits its own preconditions, returning to itself and constituting itself. Retroactivity is a logical and historical principle that Žižek highlights as crucial in the dialectic of history. While Žižek's emphasis on absolute recoil is significant, it is argued that the dynamic between the starting and endpoint of the dialectic, involving labor exploitation and commodity production, is equally important. This perspective recognizes that the dialectic is an ongoing process of extinguishing and kindling itself, leading to new contradictions and developments.

    Žižek incorporates concepts like the parallax, absolute recoil, and retroactivity into his conceptualization of the dialectic of history, emphasizing the presence of a non-dialecticizable intruder/excess that keeps the dialectic open. However, it is suggested that this concession to postmodern thought may undermine the critique of capitalist totality. A proper dialectic of the totality acknowledges the source of differentiation within the dialectic itself, based on a complex interplay of chance and necessity.

    Subjectivity[edit | edit source]

    For Žižek, although a subject may take on a symbolic (social) position, it can never be reduced to this attempted symbolisation, since the very "taking on" of this position implies a separate 'I', beyond the symbolic, that does the taking on. Yet, under scrutiny, nothing positive can be said about this subject, this 'I' that eludes symbolisation; it cannot be discerned as anything but "that which cannot be symbolised". Thus, without the initial, attempted, failed symbolisation, subjectivity cannot present itself. As Žižek writes in his first book in English: "the subject of the signifier is a retroactive effect of the failure of its own representation; that is why the failure of representation is the only way to represent it adequately."

    Žižek attributes this position on the subject to Hegel, particularly his description of man as "the night of the world",and to Lacan, with his description of the barred, split subject, who he sees as developing the Cartesian notion of the cogito.According to Žižek, these thinkers, in insisting on the role of the subject, run counter to "culturalist" or "historicist" positions held by thinkers such as Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault, which posit that "subjects" are bound by and reducible to their historical/cultural(/symbolic) context.

    The Sublime Object of Ideology[edit | edit source]

    The sublime object refers to a captivating fantasy or illusion that exceeds our comprehension, providing a sense of meaning and desire. Ideology, on the other hand, encompasses a system of beliefs, values, and social practices that shape our understanding of the world and influence our actions. Žižek argues that ideology operates through both conscious and unconscious processes. It utilizes language, symbols, institutions, and social practices to shape our perceptions and desires. The sublime object serves as the underlying allure that sustains and gives power to ideological systems. It represents an unattainable or elusive object or idea that captivates individuals and provides them with a sense of meaning and identity.

    Ideology[edit | edit source]

    Žižek's Lacanian-informed theory of ideology is one of his major contributions to political theory; his first book in English, The Sublime Object of Ideology, and the documentary The Pervert's Guide to Ideology, in which he stars, are among the well-known places in which it is discussed. Žižek believes that ideology has been frequently misinterpreted as dualistic and, according to him, this misinterpreted dualism posits that there is a real world of material relations and objects outside of oneself, which is accessible to reason.

    For Žižek, as for Marx, ideology is made up of fictions that structure political life; in Lacan's terms, ideology belongs to the symbolic order. Žižek argues that these fictions are primarily maintained at an unconscious level, rather than a conscious one. Since, according to psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious can determine one's actions directly, bypassing one's conscious awareness (as in parapraxes), ideology can be expressed in one's behaviour, regardless of one's conscious beliefs. Hence, Žižek breaks with orthodox Marxist accounts that view ideology purely as a system of mistaken beliefs (see False consciousness). Drawing on Peter Sloterdijk's Critique of Cynical Reason, Žižek argues that adopting a cynical perspective is not enough to escape ideology, since, according to Žižek, even though postmodern subjects are consciously cynical about the political situation, they continue to reinforce it through their behaviour.

    Communism[edit | edit source]

    Although sometimes adopting the title of 'radical leftist',Žižek also controversially insists on identifying as a communist, even though he rejects 20th century communism as a "total failure", and decries "the communism of the 20th century, more specifically all the network of phenomena we refer to as Stalinism as "maybe the worst ideological, political, ethical, social (and so on) catastrophe in the history of humanity." Žižek justifies this choice by claiming that only the term 'communism' signals a genuine step outside of the existing order, in part since the term 'socialism' no longer has radical enough implications, and means nothing more than that one "care[s] for society"

    In Marx Reloaded, Žižek rejects both 20th-century totalitarianism and " spontaneous local self-organisation, direct democracy, councils, and so on". There, he endorses a definition of communism as "a society where you, everyone would be allowed to dwell in his or her stupidity", an idea with which he credits Fredric Jameson as the inspiration.

    Žižek has labelled himself a "communist in a qualified sense". When he spoke at a conference on The Idea of Communism, he applied (in qualified form) the 'communist' label to the Occupy Wall Street protestors:

    They are not communists, if 'communism' means the system which deservedly collapsed in 1990 - and remember that the communists who are still in power today run the most ruthless capitalism (in China). ... The only sense in which the protestors are 'communists' is that they care for the commons - the commons of nature, of knowledge - which are threatened by the system. They are dismissed as dreamers, but the true dreamers are those who think that things can go on indefinitely the way they are now, with just a few cosmetic changes. They are not dreamers; they are awakening from a dream which is turning into a nightmare. They are not destroying anything; they are reacting to how the system is gradually destroying itself.

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    References[edit | edit source]

    1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Freud and the Psychodynamic Perspective. Introduction to Psychology", courses.lumenlearning.com. Retrieved 12-08-2020.
    2. Myre, Sim (1974) Guide to Psychiatry 3rd ed., Churchill Livingstone: Edinburgh and London pp. 35, 407

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