Raising a true socialist individual: Yugoslav psychoanalysis and the creation of democratic Marxist citizens

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This article explores the surprisingly successful development of psychoanalysis in socialist Yugoslavia, and the discipline's relationship with both Western paradigms and Yugoslavia's own theory of workers' self-management. It focuses primarily on child psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, and their attempts at reforming traditional Balkan 'authoritarian' families and helping raise democratic Marxist citizens. It argues that Yugoslav psychiatrists and psychoanalysts developed their own version of revolutionary and activist psychoanalysis, which was meant to contribute to a broad political and cultural discussion in Yugoslavia about constructing a society based on genuine Marxist collective and individual emancipation, an alternative to both Stalinist state socialism and Western capitalism/liberal democracy. Many 'psy' professionals used overtly political language to frame their aims and experiences, and turned their consulting rooms into revolutionary sites. West European practices and theories of child psychoanalysis figured prominently in Yugoslav clinical discussions and practice, but they were regularly linked to the broader goals of Marxist revolutionary politics, workers' self-management or socialist struggle against patriarchy or 'bureaucratized' political relations. Therefore, the Yugoslav experiment, in which a new activist psychoanalysis became mainstream and state-funded psychotherapy, remains central to understanding psychoanalysis as a tool for socio-political critique and activism in the second half of the twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSocial History
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)86-115
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2019

    Research areas

  • Psychoanalysis, Yugoslavia, workers' self-management, socialism, Praxis, Marxism

ID: 255365938