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Kohut, H. (1973). Psychoanalysis in a Troubled World. Ann. Psychoanal., 1:3-25.

(1973). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 1:3-25

Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Society

Psychoanalysis in a Troubled World

Heinz Kohut, M.D.

Psychoanalysis is under attack from various sides. As hedonistic—as puritanical. As mystical and unscientific—as hyperrational. As revolutionary—as old-fashioned and tradition-bound. As right-reactionary—as left-communistic. Such accusations may often seem justified, since psychoanalysis observes man from various sides and on different levels; uncovers many layers of human passion; explains—and, while explaining, removes—diverse inhibitions of human activity. Thus one can always accuse psychoanalysis of having disregarded a dialectically opposite psychological finding or explanation with regard to each of the specific empirical discoveries which it claims to have made, and with regard to each of the specific theoretical explanations which it holds to be true. If analysis is put to the test from such a vantage point, the task of the would-be attacker is facilitated while the task of the defender remains difficult indeed. The indictment is simple and concrete; the defense has to rest on the laborious study and slow integration of all the many psychological insights which psychoanalysis has provided—including the acknowledged incompleteness of this science and its capacity to grow.

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