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Ackerly, S. (1953). Constructive Forces in the Life History for Prognosis. Am. J. Psychoanal., 13(1):10-11.

(1953). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 13(1):10-11

Constructive Forces in the Life History for Prognosis

Spafford Ackerly

This title implies that there are destructive, as well as constructive forces in the life history of people, and that these forces influence prognosis.

Man's optimism concerning the prevailing goodness of human nature, inspired by his new-found political freedom during the post-Napoleonic period of enlightenment, faded somewhat as the sweat-shops of the industrial revolution and the cruelty of two world wars lowered his estimation of himself and his faith in the prospect of society's salvation through education.

In spite of this, there has been a swing in late years away from emphasis on the prime importance of inborn instinctual forces harmful to the individual, and the price man had to pay to buy these forces off—namely, a neurotic civilization. Seldom is it even implied today that these inborn instinctual forces have any such power in their own right.

It is difficult to know why this has taken place in recent history—times that are going through no afterglow of triumph over the evils that attend us. Perhaps we have simply had enough of evil and are wishing hard for goodness to gain ascendancy. Or is it because we actually have put our minds and hearts into a square look at ourselves, with all the uncovering techniques known to Freud and the frontal lobotomists, and found with Shakespeare that “vain imaginings may be worse than present fears”? If the latter, then perhaps we are ready to emerge from the search with a more accurate concept of the human mind and a more positive and unifyingly wholesome philosophy about human nature.

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