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Zabarenko, L.M. Zabarenko, R.N. (1974). Psychoanalytic Contributions for a Theory of Instruction. Ann. Psychoanal., 2:323-345.

(1974). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 2:323-345

Psychoanalytic Contributions for a Theory of Instruction

Lucy M. Zabarenko, Ph.D. and Ralph N. Zabarenko, M.D.

I. Introduction

Education is often thought of as an applied area in search of a unique basic science and a viable theoretical framework. Ferenczi as early as 1908, said, “Education is to psychology as horticulture is to botany.” For the past century, each of the behavioral sciences, including psychoanalysis, has attempted to provide a basic theoretical superstructure for education (Ferenczi, as quoted in Ekstein, 1964a) When we recall Freud's statement (1925p. 273) that the three impossible professions are teaching, healing, and governing, it is easy to understand the attraction that has existed between analysts and teachers, and their enticement at the prospect of a bridge between analysis and the craft of teaching. From the earliest days, analysts have been sensitive to the implications of psychoanalytic knowledge for education, and have worked steadily at a liaison between the two fields.

The term “education” conventionally includes an armada of concepts: learning, training, cognition, rearing, imitation, development, instruction, and teaching. Analysts have added their own definitions. For Lewin (1958), “Education on the student's part is a quest for omniscience.” Glover (1937) wrote that “[education] is an inhibitory process covered by systems of rationalization,” and felt that it was not only a conscious volitional process, but also a ready-made designation for a combination of unconscious mental mechanisms. Pearson (1959) thought “The aim of education is to consolidate the organization of the ego and the superego so that the free discharge of instinctual energy is curbed by the defense mechanisms of identification, reaction formation, and sublimation and the energy itself is directed to permissable [sic] modes of expression” (p. 352).

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