Conclusion: The Different Subject

  • Stephen Frosh


This book has been concerned with the psychological’ subject’ in a number of ways: as the ‘subjects’ (in the sense of disciplines) of psychology and psychoanalysis, as the objective focus of investigation of these disciplines (that which is subjected to their enquiry), as the experiental core (‘subjectivity’) of each individual, and as the forces to which this core is ‘subjected’. All these issues have been compressed into a discussion of the question of the most appropriate formulation of the task of psychology — whether it should focus on empirical phenomena which can be modelled cognitively and experimentally, or whether the subject of psychological investigations should include the more intangible and yet experientially central phenomenon of subjectivity. Conventionally, academic psychology has explored mental processes, mapping their relationships and the transformations that they impose on behavioural and cognitive ‘information’. Psychoanalysis, in contrast, focuses on the conscious and unconscious subjective structure of each individual — the patterns of intention and desire which provide putative explanations of the direction which mental processes may take. Psychology takes as the object of its discourse the already-constructed individual ‘subject’ and asks, ‘How do her or his psychological parts work?’ Psychoanalysis looks at the fragmented neonate and questions, ‘How does this one become a “subject” at all?’


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© Stephen Frosh 1989

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  • Stephen Frosh

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