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Planning on the couch: Exploring Michael Balint's concepts of ocnophilia and philobatism
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography. Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute for Housing and Urban Research.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-9435-1490
2011 (English)Conference paper, Published paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In this paper I will return to Michael Balint’s psychoanalytic concepts of ocnophilia and philobatism and use them as tools for understanding different attitudes towards the city. Related to the two notions of agoraphobia and claustrophobia, Balint’s concepts show how our relations to space are intertwined with emotional attitudes. I have recently explored these connections in my thesis ‘Planned, All Too Planned. A Perspectivistic Study of the Paradoxes of Planning’ (Uppsala 2010), where I tried to understand the gap between ideals and realities in planning and architecture, especially when it comes to the creation of “urban atmospheres”. My starting point is my own feelings when I first visited one of these expertly planned areas: reality was not what it was said to be. What in the eyes of the architects had appeared as an attractive environment was to me a ghost town. Drawing on Nietzsche’s perspectivism I located the gap to the area between two fixed points: ‘the Eye of the Architect’ and ‘the Body of the Flâneur’. As these labels demonstrate, the first perspective is primarily visual, the latter more embodied. In order to unmask the seemingly neutral expertise of the architect, I turn to Balint’s theory of primary attitudes. In my mind the modern architect behaves like a philobat (a person to whom objects are hazardous and who seeks the friendly expanses), and the flâneur is an ocnophil (an individual who fears empty spaces and therefore clings to objects). On these connections I will elaborate in the paper.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011.
Keyword [en]
planning, architecture, psychoanalysis, philobatia ocnophilia, claustrophobia agoraphobia, flâneur, perspectivism, urbanity, space, sound
National Category
Human Geography
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-150636OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-150636DiVA: diva2:408057
Conference
Annual Conference of the Association of American Geographers 2011, April 12-16, 2011, Seattle, USA, Session: Psychoanalytic Geographies
Available from: 2011-04-03 Created: 2011-04-03 Last updated: 2016-04-14Bibliographically approved

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Westin, Sara

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