Will already has a post up on why psychoanalysis is worthwhile, and this question is something I often grapple with. I love reading Freud, Lacan and Zizek, but I have never undergone psychoanalysis and I’m not sure I ever will. Psychoanalysis is certainly not a science, and it is not really a philosophy either, so what is it? For that matter, what is philosophy, which is not a science, nor is it psychoanalysis. How are psychoanalysis and philosophy different from literary theory or political theory? Is all theory just theory? If they are different, are they different from these fields in different ways? And in what way are psychoanalytic concepts legitimate? Should they be reserved for “the clinic”, can they be exported to other disciplines? What does an analyst do, exactly? These are questions that still bug me. If you’ve got the answers, drop me a line in the comment box, thanks in advance.

Here is Zizek on psychoanalysis’ usefulness, predictably, he takes a Marxist approach:

This is why Lacan claimed that Marx had already invented the (Freudian) notion of a symptom: for both Marx and Freud, the way to the truth of a system (of society, of the psyche) leads through what necessarily appears as a ‘pathological’ marginal and accidental distortion of this system: slips of the tongue, dreams, symptoms, economic crises. (pg. 101, First as Tragedy, Then as Farce)