Wish-fulfilment in Philosophy and Psychoanalysis
The Tyranny of Desire
By Tamas Pataki
To Be Published January 1st 2014 by Psychology Press
Series: Psychoanalytic Explorations
Wish-fulfilment (or substitutive satisfaction) as a peculiar means of satisfying ineluctable desire was a pivotal concept in classical psychoanalysis. Freud argued that it was the thread that united dreams, neurotic and psychotic symptoms, daydreams, phantasy, omnipotent thinking, art, myth, hallucinations, delusions and religious illusions. The concept's theoretical exploration has been largely neglected within psychoanalysis since, but contemporary philosophers have recognised it as providing an explanatory model for much of the kind of irrational behaviour so problematic for psychiatry, social psychology and the philosophy of mind. Although critically neglected in much contemporary psychological or psychoanalytic thought, the concept remains clinically fundamental to it, under different labels: in the notions of omnipotent phantasy, delusion, projective identification, symbol-formation, actualisation, transference, acting out and enactment symptoms. But wish-fulfilment can be shown to be a specifically psychoanalytic compartment of a common-sense psychological theory of action that illuminates not just clinical material but also the paradoxes of irrationality – such as weakness of will and self-deception – that preoccupy philosophers.
The first half of this book develops a comprehensive and novel theory of wish-fulfilment, explores its radical implications for the structure of mind, and locates it against the backdrop of both contemporary psychoanalytic and philosophical thought. In the second half it applies the theory to illuminate important features of racism (and related prejudices), religion, insanity defences, creative writing and the exclusion of mind and intention in the biological drift of modern psychiatry.
The book will be essential to philosophers of mind, psychoanalysts, psychiatrists, psychologists and social theorists, and students in these disciplines, as well as readers interested in understanding how the mind works in mental illness, racism, religion, and creative writing.