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Devereux, G. (1950). Catastrophic Reactions in Normals: A Note on the Dynamics of the Psychic Unity of Mankind. Am. Imago, 7(3):343-349.

(1950). American Imago, 7(3):343-349

Catastrophic Reactions in Normals: A Note on the Dynamics of the Psychic Unity of Mankind

George Devereux, Ph.D.

Psychoanalysis, as a science, is based upon the assumptiontion of the biological unity of mankind, which, in turn, co-determines its (possibly antecedent?) psychic unity.

The biological unity of mankind is challenged on a broad front only by the “philosophers” of racism, whose arguments may be safely ignored in a scientific study. On a somewhat more specific level, the biological unity of mankind, as a determinant of its psychic unity, is, in part, questioned by students of constitutional typology, who, while admitting the existence of an overall biological and psychic unity, do not concede the uniformity of human reactions of a finer and more specific type.

The psychic unity of mankind is challenged on a broad front by excessive environmentalists, whose arguments are often quite as ludicrous as those of the racists. On a more cogent level, students of cultural relativism concede the broad, overall psychic unity of the human species, but tend to emphasize the influence of cultural variables at the expense of human constants. Specifically, one of the major tasks confronting psychoanalysis today is the study of the locus of the boundary-line between psychic mechanisms determined predominantly by the biological unity of mankind, and those determined predominantly by the cultural diversity of human backgrounds, or of the structured fields through which the organism-as-a-whole moves 3).

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