A New Therapy for Politics?

Author(s) : Andrew Samuels

A New Therapy for Politics?

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Andrew Samuels has established an international practice as a political consultant, working with senior politicians, political parties and activist groups. His lectures and workshops on the application of ‘therapy thinking’ to social and political issues attract wide interest. His previous books in this area, such as The Political Psyche and Politics on the Couch, have been widely appreciated.

Now, in a long-anticipated tour-de-force that is both compassionate and intellectually stimulating, this book deepens in a new and innovate style his engagement with themes such as economics, ecopsychology, leadership, aggression and violence, the role of the individual in progressive politics, and sexuality and spirituality in political contexts.

The reader is encouraged to move beyond conventional professional or academic discourse by the inclusion of experiential exercises in the text. In this way, activism and analysis, public and private, therapeutic and more-than-personal are all brought together in a satisfying yet challenging synthesis.

Samuels is open about the problems with trying to apply therapy thinking to discussion about pressing political, social and economic questions, and to the loss of a sense of meaning and purpose in personal and collective life. Although there is a long history in the psychotherapies of aspiration to achieve this, and therapists invited the world into their consulting rooms, the ‘client’ did not show up for its first session. In the book, Samuels discuss why this has been the case, accepting that there is a very bad historical record to own, ranging from Jung’s anti-semitism to psychoanalytic homophobia and heteronormativity. There is also the problem of therapists’ uncontrollable desire to prove their theories correct.

Reviews and Endorsements

‘What could be more important than bringing to politics and the great social issues of our time the profound and clarifying perspective of psychodynamic thinking? Once again Andrew Samuels challenges and inspires us with questions we haven’t dared formulate, and thankfully, at the same time, offers a brilliant analysis of the difficulties that overwhelm and obstruct the pursuit of them.’
— Jessica Benjamin, psychoanalyst and author of Shadow of the Other

‘At a time when policy-makers are looking to psychology for simplistic answers to complex problems, and when psychotherapy is being co-opted in the service of capitalism, A New Therapy for Politics? offers an essential, radically different vision of the interplay between the political and the psychoanalytic. Now that politics seems more stuck than ever, Samuels’ fresh and provocative analysis might help us understand this condition, and what it would take to change it.’
— William Davies, author of The Happiness Industry

‘Andrew Samuels always challenges us. This book extends his themes of the polity and the therapeutic. Every day, political crises emerge which lend themselves to psychoanalytic analysis and therapeutic interventions. Who will be brave enough to listen?’
—Susie Orbach, psychoanalyst and writer

About the Author(s)

Andrew Samuels has, for 40 years, been evolving a unique blend of post-Jungian, relational psychoanalytic and humanistic approaches to therapy work. He is recognized internationally as a leading commentator from a psychotherapeutic perspective on political and social problems. His work on the father, sexuality, spirituality and countertransference has also been widely appreciated. He is a Founder Board Member of the International Association for Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy, past chair of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, and co-founder of Psychotherapists and Counsellors for Social Responsibility and also of the Alliance for Counselling and Psychotherapy. He is Professor of Analytical Psychology at Essex University and holds visiting chairs at New York, London and Roehampton Universities. His many books have been translated into 19 languages.

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