Beyond doer and done to: Recognition theory, intersubjectivity, and the third

Jessica Benjamin Routledge, 2017, paper, 278 pp., $49.95, ISBN: 978-1-138-21842-0 
  • Stephanie Swales
Book Review

Jessica Benjamin, a renowned leader in the relational movement of psychoanalysis, brings to her latest book1 her characteristic theoretical sophistication as well as her dense, difficult style of writing. Although clinical vignettes help to illustrate her theoretical points on sex, gender, play, enactment, and trauma, the book is certainly not one you can read in an afternoon. As a sociologist by training who studied for a few years at the Frankfurt School, Benjamin clearly applies Hegelian dialectics to her theory of recognition. In this book, she engages explicitly with social problems – especially in the last chapter, in which she takes on xenophobia and violence such as it occurs, for example, in the conflict between Israel and Palestine or took place in the Chilean Pinochet dictatorship. Benjamin’s book can thus be seen as firmly rooted in the ethical turn in psychoanalysis.

Benjamin’s book revolves around the concept of recognition, which for her is primary, “a psychic position...


  1. Butler, J. (2004) Precarious Life. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  2. Ogden, T.H. (1994) Subjects of Analysis. Northvale, NJ: Aronson.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Limited 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie Swales
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DallasIrvingUSA

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