, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Relationality in a time of surveillance: Narcissism, melancholia, paranoia

  • Stephen Frosh
Original Article


This article explores apparent shifts in the cultural use of psychoanalytic concepts, from narcissism, through melancholia, to paranoia. It tries to track these shifts, very loosely, in relation to changes in sociocultural and political atmospheres, noting that none of the shifts are complete, that each one leaves previous states of being and of mind at least partially in place. Narcissism was perhaps the term of choice for examining the problem of forging relationships that feel meaningful in a context of rapid change and neo-liberal expansion; then melancholia was (and is) drawn on to conceptualise the challenge of confronting loss and colonial ‘theft’; and now the annexation of the polity – and of everyday life – by massively insidious surveillance produces a culture and subjecthood that is fundamentally, and understandably, paranoid.


narcissism melancholia paranoia surveillance psychoanalysis 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Frosh
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychosocial Studies BirkbeckUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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