A pioneering ethnography of psychoanalysis, Illusions of a Future explores the political economy of private therapeutic labor within industrialized medicine. Focusing on psychoanalysis in Chicago, a historically important location in the development and institutionalization of psychoanalysis in the United States, Kate Schechter examines the nexus of theory, practice, and institutional form in the original instituting of psychoanalysis, its normalization, and now its "crisis." She describes how contemporary analysts struggle to maintain conceptions of themselves as capable of deciding what psychoanalysis is and how to regulate it in order to prevail over market demands for the efficiency and standardization of mental health treatments.
In the process, Schechter shows how deeply imbricated the analyst-patient relationship is in this effort. Since the mid-twentieth century, the "real" relationship between analyst and patient is no longer the unremarked background of analysis but its very site. Psychoanalysts seek to validate the centrality of this relationship with theory and, through codified "standards," to claim it as a privileged technique. It has become the means by which psychoanalysts, in seeking to protect their disciplinary autonomy, have unwittingly bound themselves to a neoliberal discourse of regulation.
Kate Schechter is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Rush Medical College, Chair of Conceptual Foundations at the Institute for Clinical Social Work, and faculty at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis. She is in the private practice of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Chicago.
Acknowledgments vii Introduction 1 Part I. The Slippery Object and the Sticky Libido 1. An Imaginary of Threat and Crisis 19 2. Analysis Deferred (or, the Talking Cure Talks Back) 51 Part II. The Problem of Psychoanalytic Authority 3. Instituting Psychoanalysis in Chicago: Two Pedagogies of Desire 73 4. Professionalization and Its Discontents: The Theory of Obedience and the Drama of "Never Splitting" 95 Part III. Psychoanalysis and the Declensions of Verisimilitude 5. The Plenty of Scarcity: On Crisis and Transience in the Fifty-First Ward 123 6. On Narcissism: "Our Own Developmental Line" 161 Notes 189 References 221 Index 267