Abstract: Freud’s analysis of crowd psychology is the final result of the traumatic impact of the Great War. First, he introduced the notion of death-drive as the dimension beyond the pleasure-principle; then, he analyzed the formation of social groups which bring individuals to forsake their ‘rational’ behavior and surrender to self-destructive violence. Freud’s analysis should be supplemented by Lacan’s distinctions between superego, Ego- Ideal and ideal ego – through this triad, we can understand today’s rise of the new figure of obscene Master.
Psychoanalyst and philosopher (PhD, Paris-Sorbonne), Willy Apollon is the founder and past president of GIFRIC. He is supervising analyst and consultant analyst at the ‘388,’ the Center for the Psychoanalytic Treatment of Young Adult Psychotics created by GIFRIC in 1982, as well as at GIFRIC’s Psychoanalytic Clinic for the Family. He animates several training seminars for the training of analysts as well as a seminar in mondialisation in Montreal and Quebec City and has published widely on a variety of topics pertaining to psychoanalysis, aesthetics, social, cultural and political practices, and more. His newest work L’adresse improbable is forthcoming as is an edited volume that explores the fundamental concepts of his metapsychology.
Summary: Getting to the heart of Freud’s Massenpsychologie, from one angle, depends on an understanding of the term ‘identification’ in Freud, precisely as, analysis of the ego. The problem is that, according to Freud, and his faithful reader, Lacan: There is no identification. Always moving between a form of unity or unification and a singular trait that is not part of whole, a complex movement and the mere appearance of unity in dreams, speech, or symptom formation, introjection of the other and projection of the ego, identification is itself the paradox of a one that psychoanalysis constantly dissolves, complicates, indeed multiplies. What problems does this pose to the psychoanalytic meta- psychological conceptual edifice, no less the very clinical practice of psychoanalysis itself? And how can we extend this to the question of hysteria and the contagion of mass psychology?
A MASS PSYCHOLOGY BEYOND THE EGO: SYMPATHY, ENTHUSIASM, AND UNCONSCIOUS TRANSMISSION IN THE AGE OF REVOLUTION
Abstract: Freud, in Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, restricts his focus to ‘stable’ or ‘artificial’ groups organized around identification with the leader as ideal ego, and not the political and revolutionary masses that were the primary focus of his most important predecessors. This paper argues that the dynamics of popular revolutionary crowds and some of the ways those were understood at the time – for example through the lens of Mesmerism – nevertheless make crucial additions to Freud’s mass psychology because they attest to forms of unconscious, bodily transmission between members of the collective that are not reducible to the mechanisms of identification. In dialogue with Kant’s and Rousseau’s discussions of sympathetic enthusiasm and the general will, it asks what the Freud ofMoses and Monotheismand the late essays on telepathy might have contributed to the project of a mass psychology beyond the ego.
Abstract: This commentary of Freud’s seminal essay from 1921, Mass-psychology and the Analysis of the Ego, celebrating the 100th anniversary of its publication, is an experiment in reading the text and assessing its problems at the intersection of several perspectives: it relies on the inclusion of the text within successive textual ‘constellations’ which involve the recognition that a political element is intrinsic to the construction of psychoanalytical concepts, and the possibility of using psychoanalysis as a framework for the analysis of contemporary enduring forms of institutional racism, which reacts on our understanding of psychoanalysis itself. What emerges is a remarkable figure of representation and elusion of the State as an agency of identification and repression organizing the psychic apparatus from without.
Abstract: This year marks one century from the first publication of Mass Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego by Sigmund Freud. What has been the importance of this text for social and political inquiry diachronically? What is its relevance today? It is to these two questions that this text is devoted. Attention is first given to the broader choreography between psychoanalysis and socio-political inquiry. Focus is then directed to the way populism research in particular has benefited from the ensuing re-orientation. Debates around ‘post-truth’ are also discussed within this context.