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Desire in the era of neoliberalism: a lacanian reading of Haynes’ [safe]

In this paper, Lacanian psychoanalysis is employed to critically discuss notions concerning the subject’s desire in the era of neoliberalism. To do so, a quote by Margaret Thatcher is analysed through Lacan’s University discourse. By critically reflecting on this quote, neoliberal narratives surrounding accountability, ‘perfectibility’ and consumerism are explored through Lacanian theory. Parallels between Todd Haynes’ movie [SAFE] and Lacan’s notions of ‘divided subject’ and desire are critically reviewed within the neoliberal- University frame. The paper focuses on investigating how desire is exploited and manipulated by neoliberalism. It is argued that, in the neoliberal-University discourse, Lacan’s divided subject ($) – identified in Haynes’ movie with the character of Carol – deals with a particular type of alienation resulting from the demand of the neoliberal master for a whole, perfect subject (a). The Carol/$ is silenced within the modern neoliberal- University discourse, drowned by a constant noise (voice). In the final section, Kristeva’s and Ettinger’s notions of abjection and matrix respectively are discussed to forward both ways in which it is possible to resist the master signifier of neoliberalism; and to criticize Lacan’s conception of subjectivity.

The Drug-free Therapeutic Community: A Total(itarian?) approach for the Treatment of a Total Experience

In this article the authors, using psychoanalytic concepts, will discuss the treatment process in a drug-free Therapeutic Community (TC). A TC is a long-term group programme for people suffering from addiction that aims at an identity transformation and a drug-free lifestyle. Although the TC model exists for over 50 years and is applied worldwide, it has always been controversial because of its “totalitarian” approach. Subjects that are under the spell of a drug addiction do not tend to seek treatment for psychological problems. If help is sought, it is usually related to the debts, family problems, prison sentences and so on that are the consequences of addiction. Once the addict has decided to embark on a TC programme, they go through a process of detoxification and enter the drug-free TC peer group. By living together in an environment that is both holding and frustrating, the subject manages to reconnect with his own emotions and thoughts and the process of the becoming of the subject can continue. Affects such as anxiety and anger can be experienced and carried and the mirroring effects of peers provides the material for symbolization. Maintaining the TC values that guarantee a safe environment is essential to this process.