NCSPP

Northern California Society for Psychoanalytic Psychology

From the Editor

by Shlomit Gorin, MA
 
“We live in a period dominated by what Laplanche has called the psychotic enclaves of good and evil,” wrote Leo Bersani and Adam Phillips in
Intimacies (2008), referring to the War on Terror following 9/11. Though they were alluding to particular political maneuvers and inculcation, this statement can unfortunately be applied more generally to any period, and certainly to the current one.
 
In recent days, we have been bombarded with the discourse of good and evil, a testament to our tendency to appeal to moral categories as a way of distancing ourselves from the bad guys, the evil monsters, the ones we are not. “Expelled from the psychic, these moral monsters are confined within the satisfyingly unimaginable and theologically sponsored universe of evil,” explain Bersani and Phillips. As satisfying as it may be to think in such dichotomous, self-vindicating terms, doing so requires disavowing the ultimate humanness of destructive aggression in ourselves and in others.
 
One of the merits of psychoanalysis is its capacity to help us see and be responsible for our own destructive aggression, to our own and others’ benefit. Inasmuch as human destructiveness will not go away, there is much to be gained from attempting to explain it. As Bersani and Phillips claim, “we may judge the great achievement of psychoanalysis to be its attempt to account for our inability to love others, and ourselves.”