Agency in Psychoanalytic Theory
Title: Agency as a Psychoanalytic Idea
Author: Joseph Caston
Abstract: Competent agency is a basic assumption of psychoanalytic change. Yet as an aspect of health, personal agency has in the main been only intuitively addressed and remains clinically unsystematized. Here experience-near and observer-centered criteria are developed that assess a personas-agent’s competence in particular domains. These ideas, clinically illustrated, stand as an operational framework that helps thinking and talking about agency in everyday clinical events and psychoanalytic outcomes. Three specific criteria are proposed: reversibility, self-observation, and appropriateness. The first is descriptively polar; together the three apply to each given context of action. They can also serve to ground future research. In this regard, several empirical psychoanalytic studies of adults and children that exemplify measurable aspects of agency are reviewed. Once clinical markers of personal agency are articulated, it will not be necessary to resolve the free will debate: pragmatically, we need only put such distinctions to work.
Organizational Change Certificate Course Offerings 2013-2014
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The Perverse Panopticon in Forensic Mental Health
“…the very real power differentials that exist between the ‘would be watcher’ and ‘won’t be watched’. This gives rise to the disturbed and disturbing claustrophobic environment that we are calling the perverse panopticon within which this more conscious, and intentional reciprocal scrutiny becomes suffused with more primitive forms of unconscious communication rooted in processes of projective and introjective identification…”