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Koff, R.H. (1957). The Therapeutic Man Friday. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:424-431.
   

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:424-431

The Therapeutic Man Friday

Robert H. Koff, M.D.

The Life and Strange Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner was published by Daniel Defoe about the year 1700. Defoe was then about sixty years old, nearing the end of a long adventurous career of his own as businessman, bankrupt debtor, political pamphleteer, paid political spy for the British Government, and ghost writer of scandalous memoirs for condemned murderers, thugs, etc. This was 250 years ago, when daily newspapers were just getting started in England, and Defoe wrote several books, including Moll Flanders, which contributed to the origin of the present-day English novel.

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe was a very popular novel in its day, and has continued so for 200 years, although nowadays it is seldom read by anyone but children. Most of us have read it as children, and there are many phrases, expressions, episodes that are familiar to us all, such as "My Man Friday, " the finding of the footprint on the sand, and the marvelous self-sufficiency with which Crusoe fought the elements and carved out a civilized existence from an untouched wilderness, alone.

Recently a film was made which follows the text of the book very closely. In fact, it highlights one curious episode which seems very contradictory: Crusoe, finding Friday after twenty-six years of painful loneliness, states flatly that he, Crusoe, is to be called "Master" and that Friday is to act as his salve. One would have thought that, after being so lonely, Crusoe would have been very happy to accept Friday as a comrade to share his experiences as an equal, but this emphatically is not what Crusoe established.

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