Title of Presentation:
I Love You to Death: Putting Together the Pieces of Ambivalence
Units of CE/CME offered:
Why are Americans preoccupied with zombies and the notion of a zombie apocalypse? When this question was posed to Noam Chomsky in 2014, he referenced a cultural fear he claims goes back to the colonies. In Chomsky's argument the narrative switch taking place in popular American myths brings about certain transformations
such that the oppressed become the oppressors. Defending Indians are thus transformed into 'merciless Indian savages', revolting slaves are transformed into secret planners intent on killing all the white men and raping all the white women, and Hispanic narco-traffickers are transformed into an organised group with a mission to come in and destroy American society. In turn, the figure of the zombie substitutes for the Indian (the slave, the Narco-trafficker, etc.) in white America's collective nightmare. As the representative of the realised colonial object, the zombie offers American audiences an opportunity to variously sublimate and/or displace what they find intolerable in the Other.
In Civilization and Its Discontents, Freud critically examines the moral dictate to "Love thy neighbour as thyself." Freud asserted that although people would prefer to view themselves as "gentle creatures who want to be loved" the truth they disavow is that they are also aggressive beings, such that that "their neighbour is for them not only a potential helper or sexual object, but also someone who tempts them to satisfy their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without compensation, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and to kill him." Freud then said men are wolves; perhaps in today's world men are zombies.
In our presentation, which is based on our forthcoming book (Routledge, 2019), we use clinical vignettes that exemplify symptomatic ways of relating to ambivalence about the neighbour and we show what psychoanalysis and psychodynamic psychotherapy have to offer to this problematic. We also trace the lineage of zombie representations of the human condition on film so as to argue that they fulfil an essential function for the psyche and for society under neo-liberalism. This 'essential function' is none other than the opportunity for the stagings of the tensions of ambivalence and the experiences of hainamoration-a neologism Lacan coined which translates to "hateloving"-which we argue are increasingly foreclosed under neo-liberalism and take place alongside the injunction to love our neighbour. We argue, then, that many of today's clinical and cultural symptoms are the consequences of un-worked through (un-staged, unarticulated tensions), and unpermitted (prohibited) affects which we understand as refracted through the psychical operation of ambivalence.
Stephanie Swales, Ph.D. and Carol Owens, Ph.D.
Presenter bios: Stephanie Swales, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Dallas and has a private psychoanalytic practice in Dallas, Texas. She is the founder of the Dallas/Fort Worth area Lacan Study Group and is serving as the current president of the Dallas Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology. Her forthcoming book, co-authored with Carol Owens, on a Lacanian approach to ambivalence in the clinic and in contemporary times, will be published by Routledge in 2019. She is also the author of the book Perversion: A Lacanian Psychoanalytic Approach to the Subject
and numerous shorter works in the area of psychoanalysis.
Carol Owens, Ph.D., is a psychoanalyst and clinical supervisor in private practice in Dublin. She has lectured on psychoanalysis at Trinity College, Dublin City University, and Independent Colleges, Dublin. A registered practitioner member of the APPI (Association for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy in Ireland) and of the ICP (Irish Council for Psychotherapy), she is also a chartered member of the PSI (Psychological Society of Ireland). She is the founder and convenor of the Dublin Lacan Study Group. She edited The Letter: Lacanian Perspectives on Psychoanalysis
from 2004-2006, and the Annual Review of Critical Psychology on Jacques Lacan
in 2009. She has published articles and book chapters on the theory and practice of Lacanian Psychoanalysis and its various engagements with critical psychology, critical management theory, film studies, philosophy and Queer theory. She co-organises the annual Irish Psychoanalytic film festival. Her co-edited book with Stephanie Farrelly Quinn Lacanian Psychoanalysis with Babies, Children, and Adolescents Further Notes on the Child
was published by Karnac Books in 2017 and she has just finished work on a co-edited volume of essays for Routledge entitled Studying Lacan's Seminars IV and V: From lack to desire
Freud, S. (1917/1957). Mourning and Melancholia. Standard Edition
14. London: Hogarth Press, pp. 237-258.
Freud, S. (1930/1961). Civilization and its Discontents. Standard Edition
21. London: Hogarth Press, pp. 59-148.