Making enemies: psychoanalysis and the personality profiling of ideological adversaries

Geoghegan, Barry (2016) Making enemies: psychoanalysis and the personality profiling of ideological adversaries. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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Focusing in particular on a psychoanalytic understanding of terrorism and adversarial political leaders, this thesis undertakes the textual analyses of significant individual profiles and the key texts reflecting psychoanalytic personality pathology profiling. The thesis situates the methodology of this normative, clinically oriented paradigm within the psychobiographic tradition of applied psychoanalysis and critiques the medico-scientific validity of ‘at a distance’ pathologising profiles.
The thesis presents its own analytic tools such as ‘clinical parallelism’, where a determinist ahistorical schema of a parallel clinical case is superimposed onto the psychobiographical subject. Arguing that it represents a paradigm shift in psychobiography, a methodological distinction is made between the characterological, traditionally Freudian subject of psychobiography, who is developed by the speculative reconstruction of childhood relationships. This is in contradistinction from a more object relational personological subject who is mainly inferred from adult behaviour. The distinction is emphasised throughout the thesis, and introduced through the wartime psychoanalytic profiles of Hitler.
The origins and early history of the overarching discipline of psychobiography including a critique of Freud’s only dedicated psychobiography of Leonardo Da Vinci are explored. This demonstrates that the flaws which surfaced early on in the psychobiographic project are still apparent in modern personality pathology profiling. Political personality profiling is then situated within the context of post War American psychoanalysis and its relationship to American political culture, and there is an exploration of the ethical dilemmas particularly in respect of the Barry Goldwater affair, which have ensued.
Predicated in particular, on the notion of early disturbed or traumatogenic object relating leading to narcissistic and paranoid functioning in adult life, the thesis examines how psychoanalytic theories are adapted in the pathologising discourse. There is a critique of the way psychoanalytic conceptualisations are integrated with ideological imperatives most notably by the principal protagonist of the thesis, Jerrold Post and the personality pathology theorists’ analysis of terrorist ‘pathology’.
The thesis concludes by arguing that the elision of psychoanalysis with the Western hegemonic and normative ideological position of the personality pathology paradigm represents an inherent bias. This risks through for example Nancy Kobrin’s cultural psychobiographic analysis of suicide terrorism, alienating in particular Islam, and undermines the perception of psychoanalysis as a universal discipline.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology
B. > Theses
Item ID: 20779
Depositing User: Users 5077 not found.
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2016 15:19
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 22:13

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