This chapter explores a fundamental alternative philosophy of the subject. Drawing inspiration from Adorno’s critical theory and from Fromm’s social psychology, Smith offers a contemporary, cross-disciplinary study of the subject, including the individual’s relation with society and social development. What emerges is a deeply insightful approach to understanding social interaction, developmental psychology and the problem of ego colonization. Enriching arguments laid out in early chapters, Smith employs a methodologically innovative conception of the development of the subject: from its (de)formation and early childhood development to more practical issues such as compassion fatigue, deficits of reason and empathy. Smith shows how negative social conditions foster emotionally overwhelmed individuals—a deeply repressed, closed, traumatized subject. This chapter also covers other important practical issues, such as the problem of economic coercion, pathological reproduction, cycles of domination and violence, and the everyday effects of “needless suffering” on the psyche.
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