The Political Self explores how our social and economic contexts profoundly affect our mental health and well-being, and how modern neuroscientific and psychodynamic research can both contribute to and enrich our understanding of these wider discussions. It therefore looks both inside and outside—indeed one of the main themes of the book is that the conceptually discrete categories of “inner” and “outer” in reality constantly interact, shape, and inform each other. Severing these two worlds, it suggests, has led both to a devitalised and dissociated form of politics, and to a disengaged and disempowering form of therapy and analysis.
The death of David Bowie has revived both intense media interest in his work and astonishing creative legacy and also a plethora of unthinking and misleading cliches about who he was and what he signified. Foremost amongst these is the description of him as some kind of alien being, or “mysterious extraterrestrial”: “40 years ago, in millions of living rooms across the British isles,” one hagiographic BBC documentary started, “a strange alien creature was beamed onto our television screens”. Online and newspaper headlines are full of references to Starmen, Spaceboys, The Man who Fell to Earth – but there is very little attempt to explore or decode these references or to consider their psychological significance.