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A psychoanalytic approach to the study of international relations

Bettcher, Douglas (1997) A psychoanalytic approach to the study of international relations. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis tries to demonstrate that psychoanalytic principles, primarily those developed by Sigmund Freud, can be extrapolated from the individual to the collective level-of-analysis in order to formulate a paradigm of international relations. The first part illustrates that structural concepts of Freudian psychoanalysis provide a model of human psychology by which traditions of international political thinking, both Western and non-Western, can be compared and analysed; it is argued that the 'id-ego-superego' model provides a trans-cultural and trans-historical representation of political philosophy. Similarly, although Freud's writing on political and social themes did not examine the political philosophies of either Western or non-Western traditions in any depth, nor elaborate a theory of international relations, his analyses of political and social affairs, while limited, would seem to have applied his individual models of human psychology to analyse relations between group actors such as states, even though he did not make this explicit. Nonetheless, this thesis extrapolates psychoanalytic principles to the level of state and non-state groupings in order to develop a psychoanalytic theory of international relations based on four main themes: first, that the 'id-ego-superego' model of human socialisation can be used to construct an 'order out of chaos theory' of international society; secondly, that ego psychology can be used to analyse the foreign policy interactions of state apparats; thirdly, that psychoanalytic precepts can be used to construct a 'fourth image' of war, and finally, that the psychoanalytic model developed in this thesis intersects with the three main paradigms of modern international relations theory, namely structuralism, pluralism, and realism/idealism, which suggests that they need not be considered as mutually exclusive bodies of theory. It is concluded that the concepts elaborated in this thesis, which are illustrated by means of historical observations and case studies, constitute a theoretical model that offers a distinct view of world politics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 1997 Douglas William Bettcher
Library of Congress subject classification: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Sets: Departments > International Relations
Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1053

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