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Sadness Is Rebellion

Hobrechtstraße 66 Berlin, 12047
Mental Health
The Self


One of the basic demands that underlie contemporary society is to be happy and to enjoy. In Zizek's words: "Today, [...], we are bombarded from all sides by different versions of the superego injunction "Enjoy!", from the direct enjoyment of sexual performance to enjoyment of professional achievement or spiritual awakening," (The Parallax View)

There's got to be something wrong with you if you don't meet the demand to enjoy, probably you have to visit a therapist or psychiatrist who will prescribe antidepressants so that you can be happy enough to fit into society better. Happiness is claimed to be our own responsibility and depend on our own decision, thus not something that depends on circumstances.

Prescription antidepressant use is gender unbalanced, with women receiving about two of every three prescriptions. At the dawn of antidepressants, they were associated with the normal misery of housewives, suggesting that it helps them to calm down, deal with their busy lives and meet their husband's demands.

Anxiety and dissatisfaction were thus disconnected from life's circumstances and regarded as the person's own responsibility. The danger of such internalization of responsibility is that it renders dissatisfaction impotent to serve as a stimulus for rebellion against circumstances that causes it.

Behind the idea that emotional pain has to be eliminated lies the assumption that it has only negative and no positive aspects. However, contemporary research suggests that emotional pain is the core mechanism driving the development of social skills, establishing and securing interhuman attachment. Therefore it underlies our whole sociality.

Philosophically oriented psychoanalysis opposes popular psychology that serves late capitalism by promising eternal happiness but in reality functioning as an apparatus of transforming us into emotionally unfeeling zombies. Psychoanalysis faces the opposite goal — to remain a space of resistance where "you are allowed not to enjoy" (Zizek).

About the lecturer:

Julie Reshe is a practicing psychoanalyst, theorist, and educator who works at the intersection of philosophy, psychoanalysis, and neuroscience. She completed her Ph.D. under the supervision of Alenka Zupančič. Reshe is currently a professor of philosophy at the Global Center for Advanced Studies where she directs the Institute of Psychoanalysis.

Collage artist:

Jorge Chamorro

State of Mind: A Collage Group Exhibition

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