Denial, Disavowal and the Repudiation of Reality in Contemporary Culture, Politics and Society

Authors: Yates, C.

Conference: Association of The Psychoanalysis of Culture and Society

Dates: 21-23 October 2022


Against a backdrop of numerous crises at socio-political and personal levels of experience, where fear, anxiety and uncertainty are widespread, it is not surprising that people respond by adopting psychosocial defences as a way to manage such feelings. What are the affective mechanisms at play when people individually and collectively ward off and turn away from the difficult reality of loss and vulnerability, and instead take refuge in the psychology of positivity or forms of manic excitement or perverse readings of truth and reality? This panel applies the ideas of Freud, Klein, Winnicott and others in the relational psychoanalytic tradition, to explore the psychodynamics of denial and disavowal within contemporary culture, politics and society and unpack its meanings by focusing on psychosocial and political case studies and examples which include: the appropriateness - or not - of deploying defence strategies in different contexts and as a mode of psychosocial survival; the role of disavowal in relation to disability and the experience shielding measures during the pandemic; and the relationship between lying and the manic defence in political life through a discussion of Boris Johnson and his public appeal.

Source: Manual