Risk and resistance: The ethical education of psychoanalysis

Nancy Luxon

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4 Scopus citations


Agonistic theories of democratic practice lack an explicit model for ethical cultivation. Even as these theorists advocate sensibilities of "ethical open-ness and receptivity," so as to engage in the political work of "maintenance, repair, and amendment," they lack an account of how individuals ought be motivated to this task or how it should unfold. Toward theorizing such a model, I turn to Freud and clinical psychoanalytic practice. I argue that Freud's "second-education" (Nacherziehung) offers an ethical cultivation framed around a "combative collaboration" between analyst and patient that teaches tolerance of discomfort; endurance of uncertainty; and narrative capacity. This second-education suggests two lessons for politics. First, that we might do well to reproduce its relational form more broadly across politics. And second, that we cultivate those "sacral spaces" capable of challenging the conditions for symbolic meaning as it stretches between personal and collective practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)380-408
Number of pages29
JournalPolitical Theory
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013

Bibliographical note

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  • Agonism
  • Freud
  • Narrative
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Subject-formation


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