Manual Lacan, Language, and Philosophy (SUNY series, Insinuations: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, Literature)

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The concept of abjection is often coupled and sometimes confused with the idea of the uncanny , the concept of something being "un-home-like", or foreign, yet familiar. From a deconstruction of sexual discourses and gender history Ian McCormick has outlined the recurring links between pleasurable transgressive desire, deviant categories of behaviour and responses to body fluids in 18th and 19th-century discussions of prostitution, sodomy, and masturbation self-pollution, impurity, uncleanness. Organizational theory literature on abjection has attempted to illuminate various ways in which institutions come to silence, exclude or disavow feelings, practices, groups or discourses within the workplace.

Studies have examined and demonstrated the manner in which people adopt roles, identities and discourses to avoid the consequences of social and organizational abjection. Both the organizational and interpersonal levels produce a series of exclusionary practices that create a "zone of inhabitability" for staff perceived to be in opposition to the organizational norms. One such method is that of "collective instruction," which refers to a strategy often used to defer, render abject and hide the inconvenient "dark side" of the organization, keeping it away from view through corporate forces.

Through the controlled release of information and belief or reactionary statements, people are gradually exposed to a firm's persuasive interpretation of an event or circumstance, that could have been considered abject.

This spun meaning developed by the firm becomes shared throughout a community. That event or circumstance comes to be interpreted and viewed in a singular way by many people, creating a unified, accepted meaning. The purpose such strategies serve is to identify and attempt to control the abject, as the abject ideas become ejected from each individual memory. Organizations such as hospitals must negotiate the divide between the symbolic and the semiotic in a unique manner. They are faced with the reality of death and suffering in a way not typically experienced by hospital administrators and leaders.

Nurses must learn to separate themselves and their emotional states from the circumstances of death, dying and suffering they are surrounded by. Very strict rituals and power structures are used in hospitals, which suggests that the dynamics of abjection have a role to play in understanding not only how anxiety becomes the work of the health team and the organization, but also how it is enacted at the level of hospital policy. The abject is a concept that is often used to describe bodies and things that one finds repulsive or disgusting, and in order to preserve one's identity they are cast out.

Kristeva used this concept to analyze xenophobia and anti-Semitism, and was therefore the first to apply the abject to cultural analysis. Exploration has also been done into the way people look at others whose bodies may look different from the norm due to illness, injury or birth defect.

Researchers such as Frances [29] emphasize the importance of the interpersonal consequences that result from this looking.


A person with a disability, by being similar to us and also different, is the person by whom the abject exists and people who view this individual react to that abjection by either attempting to ignore and reject it, or by attempting to engage and immerse themselves in it. In this particular instance, Frances claims, the former manifests through the refusal to make eye contact or acknowledge the presence of the personal with a disability, while the latter manifests through intrusive staring.


By bringing focus onto concepts such as abjection, psychotherapists may allow for the exploration of links between lived experience and cultural formations in the development of particular psychopathologies. Bruan Seu demonstrated the critical importance of bringing together Foucauldian ideas of self-surveillance and positioning in discourse with a psychodynamic theorization in order to grasp the full significance of psychological impactors, such as shame.

Parker noted that individuals suffering from BDD are sensitive to the power, pleasure and pain of being looked at, as their objective sense of self dominates any subjective sense. The role of the other has become increasingly significant to developmental theories in contemporary psychoanalysis, and is very evident in body image as it is formed through identification, projection and introjection. Those individuals with BDD consider a part of their body unattractive or unwanted, and this belief is exacerbated by shame and the impression that others notice and negatively perceive the supposed physical flaw, which creates a cycle.

Consider also those who experience social anxiety, who experience the subjectification of being abject is a similar yet different way to those with Body Dysmorphic Disorder. Studying abjection has proven to be suggestive and helpful for considering the dynamics of self and body hatred. The roots of abject art go back a long way. The Tate defines abject art as that which "explore themes that transgress and threaten our sense of cleanliness and propriety, particularly referencing the body and bodily functions.

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It was influenced by Antonin Artaud 's Theatre of Cruelty. It was preceded by the films and performances of the Viennese actionists , in particular, Hermann Nitsch , whose interest in Schwitter's idea of a gesamtkunstwerk total artwork led to his setting up the radical theatre group, known as the Orgien-Mysterien-Theater. The group used animal carcasses and bloodshed in a ritualistic way. Nitsch served time in jail for blasphemy before being invited to New York in by Jonas Mekas.

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Nitsch organised a series of performances which influenced the radical New York art scene. Other members of the Viennese Actionists , Gunter Brus , who began as a painter, and Otto Muehl collaborated on performances. The performances of Gunter Brus involved publicly urinating, defecating and cutting himself with a razor blade. Rudolf Schwarzkogler is known for his photos dealing with the abject. Seller Inventory AAR More information about this seller Contact this seller.

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