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Joy and the Objects of Psychoanalysis: Literature, Belief, and Neurosis



For more than a hundred years, psychoanalysts have applied their theories of neurosis to objects of culture, including literature. In this book, psychoanalyst, anthropologist, and scholar of religion Volney P. Gay reverses field and uses literature to reevaluate psychoanalysis. Arguing that neurosis occurs when we cannot recollect joy, Gay focuses upon the nature of joy as articulated in drama and literature. It is the absence of joy, he suggests, that evokes in children a lifelong quest for repair and restitution, usually through the stories they tell themselves. Therefore, Gay argues, literary accounts of joy are essential to contemporary psychoanalysts because they illuminate the nature of an “object” that, when absent, produces the form of human suffering that Freud named “neurosis.” Throughout the book, case studies are juxtaposed with analyses of works by Plato, Homer, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Hawthorne, Wharton, and others in order to explore the notion that the objects of psychoanalysis (and similar psychotherapies) are structured like narratives rather than organisms or other natural objects.

Author: Gay, Volney P

Topic: Psychology
Media: Book
ISBN: 791451003
Language: English
Pages: 243

Additional information

Weight 0.77 lbs
Dimensions 8.68 × 6.1 × 0.58 in


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