Skip to main content
main-content

Über dieses Buch

Provides an accessible introduction to psychoanalytic explanations of consumer desire. Topics are drawn widely to reflect the scope of Freud's vision and include dreams, sexuality and hysteria. Discussion is widened to selectively include authors such as Melanie Klein and Jacques Lacan, and to include evaluation of current research.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

1. Dreams

Abstract
This chapter is divided into three parts. Freud’s ideas are outlined in the first part, which are then related to consumption in the following two parts. In part one, three dreams are used to introduce Freud’s understanding of the dream process. The dream of Irma illustrates the role played by processes of condensation and displacement, acting in concert to shape the manifest content of the dream into a rebus requiring decoding by analysis. The dream of la belle bouchère illustrates the role played by identification, which Freud draws on in his analysis to demonstrate that a dream always fulfils a wish, even when appearing to deny it. Finally, the peculiar hallucinatory nature of dreams is discussed through Freud’s analysis of the dream of the burning child, which also illustrates the role played by regression in the dream process. The second part touches on the recruitment of Freud’s ideas by commercial interests during the 1940s and 1950s in seeking to market the consumer dream. This concludes with a brief discussion of the furore created in the late 1950s surrounding the use of subliminal advertising. The final part addresses some of the criticisms that have been levelled against Freud’s theory of dreams, focusing specifically on Hans Eysenck, who amongst others, contributed to the death of Freud’s ideas in the USA.1 There follows a discussion of recent evidence in relation to the role played by unconscious processes in consumer behaviour; it concludes that these are in line with a psychoanalytic understanding.
John Desmond

2. Sexuality

Abstract
In her commentary to Freud’s Three Essays on Sexuality ([1905] 1977), Angela Richards says that he made the unconscious real.’ The path to this discovery was laid principally by his patients, most of whom were middle-class Viennese women. Listening to their stories, Freud was at first of the opinion that the source of their trauma lay in their molestation by adults when they were children. Later and controversially, he changed his mind to believe that the hysterical and neurotic symptoms they exhibited in adulthood could be traced to difficulties in dealing with their own infantile sexuality.2 In this view the unconscious is governed by primary instinctive processes, including the sexual drive, which have the sole function of gaining immediate satisfaction. Running up against social constraints, these unconscious currents of desire were repressed by these adults, who pushed them into the unconscious. It took Freud some time to reach the shocking conclusion that children are sexual beings, but when he did, he did not shirk from fully exploring its implications. In directly confronting human sexuality, Three Essays retains its power to strike readers even today with forceful clarity and directness.
John Desmond

3. Mastery and Self-Control

Abstract
Since neo-liberalism finally came into its own towards the end of the 1970s, Western citizen-consumers have been constantly reminded that the world is their oyster. ‘You’ve Got It!’ was the slogan that united the calls of politicians, property developers, bankers and company directors, who between them inflated the biggest credit bubble in history, with many of them managing to walk off with the proceeds just before it burst.1 Rather than questioning and reforming the basis of this ruinous enterprise, the response has been generally to accelerate state withdrawal from key sectors of public life and to intensify the implementation of privatization, as national economies struggle to balance the books. The prevailing rhetoric of those heady years, about the centrality of consumer mastery and choice, rings hollowly for millions of consumers today.
John Desmond

4. Narcissism

Abstract
In Metarnorphoses, Ovid relates the tragic tale of Narcissus, son of the river god Cephissus, and of Echo, the nymph, where Narcissus is doomed to an eternity of captation by his mirror image whilst Echo, having been spurned, lingers mournfully by the poolside next to her un-hearing self-absorbed love. The image has entranced a number of great artists, from the dark genius of Caravaggio to the surrealist Salvadore Dali and John William Waterhouse. The narcissist is, it seems, the personality du jour, and a rash of books has appeared that instruct us not only as to the causes of ‘normal’ or ‘subclinical’ narcissism but also how to live with the narcissists in our lives, including self-help manuals for survival.2 On the other hand, at the time of writing, there were signs that its clinical counterpart, narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), was to be dropped from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association.3
John Desmond

5. Death

Abstract
Although the question of death features in Freud’s earliest writings, this moves centre-stage in the two key papers discussed in this chapter: Mourning and Melancholia (Freud, [1917] 1991) and Beyond the Pleasure Principle (Freud, [1920] [1991]). Today, when the almost inevitable response to depression is medication, it is some comfort that Freud’s insights have been revived (e.g. Leader, 2009) for an audience in search of movement beyond numbness.
John Desmond

6. Lack

Abstract
The equation of desire to lack is linked indissolubly to Jacques Lacan, dubbed the ‘French Freud’ from his professed desire to recover the true Freud from the clutches of ego psychology — and ironically, considering the extent to which, in rewriting Freud, he informed his own fantasy. While it is frowned upon to reflect on the person, Lacan is irresistible. His life course to a large extent replays his scholarly preoccupations, particularly with ‘The Purloined Letter’,1 where he analyses Poe’s story of a trail of badly concealed secrets and fractured social relations. This smart alec Parisian intellectual sprang from a long line of drapers, vinegar merchants and grocery salesmen, all of whom he disavowed. Obsessed by image in his writings, he effected the grandiose style and sartorial elegance of an aristocratic dandy. Outraging his peers by mass-producing therapeutic clones of himself, he amassed considerable wealth, much of which was devoted to a passion for collecting art and fine objects. A notorious tightwad, he would always allow someone else to pick up the tab. Yet, despite all of this, he was celebrated as an icon of the Left. He had a child by a parallel relationship to his marriage which he hid from his legitimate children for many years.
John Desmond

7. Freedom

Abstract
Ask most people if they believe themselves to be free, and they usually reply in the affirmative. This is hardly surprising, given that nobody in a modern industrial society is marched to work by armed guards, nor are shoppers forced to shop at gunpoint. When it comes to the latter one might justifiably argue that in some respects there is too much rather than too little choice. Just as the shopper has a variety of alternatives to choose from, so the voter has freedom of choice between a number of offerings in the political sphere. The above description roughly captures the bounds of freedom as envisaged by neo-liberalism. Freedom exists with respect to something or someone, just like its opposite, constraint. Liberals advocate freedom in respect to two important contexts, political freedom and economic freedom. Political freedom is tied to the idea that all citizens are presumed to act rationally in their self-interest and expects them to behave responsibly by casting their vote in seeking to elect those who best represent their interests and by playing an active role in lobbying these representatives in the period between elections. The liberal assumption of economic freedom is that one should seek to enable the creation of a free market with many buyers and sellers each acting in accordance with their self-interest.
John Desmond

8. Hysteria

Abstract
The hysteric is the iconic figure of psychoanalysis: Her symptoms fed the theoretical insight of Charcot, Breuer and Freud; they inspired the Surrealists as the source of a new creative madness and independent femininity; for Lacan, she forms the model representing the true quest for knowledge; for Baudrillard, she constitutes the model for rootless consumer desire. The hysteric provides a model for critics as the embodiment of the wrongs of psychoanalysis, her treatment a testament to forceful misreadings of the symptoms exhibited by young and vulnerable women in the interests of male power, some of whom defiantly refused its message.
John Desmond

Backmatter

Weitere Informationen