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Friedman, L. (1997). Ferrum, Ignis, And Medicina: Return To The Crucible. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:20-36.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:20-36

Ferrum, Ignis, And Medicina: Return To The Crucible

Lawrence Friedman

Lawrence Friedman

Anyone who visits a meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association these days will be astonished at the breadth and vigor of its debates. We see intellectual ferment everywhere. But is that all we see? Is it just a variety of arguments—conflict vs. deficit, narrative vs. fact, etc.? Or is there an edifying story here—a story about a journey into our current issues and on to the goal of psychoanalysis in its second century?

Well, yes of course, there's a story … and another story … and, unfortunately, another story, each crafted to celebrate somebody's favorite outcome. In reality, there is no privileged history of anything. So the short answer to my last question is no. There is no road that led here. Psychoanalysis concerned itself with modern issues very early and with original issues again very lately. It has straggled into view over a wide field and it is still straggling. It wasn't a disciplined march. There is no triumphal entry. Sorry.

Now, that's not a very promising beginning; I should start over and be less circumspect. This time I'll weave together highly personal impressions and generalizations and indulge in grand and free confabulation. That's not so reprehensible, really. The art historian E. H. Gombrich tells us that if we want to achieve a likeness we have to begin by hacking out a rough image and then comparing it to reality. Only by match and mismatch do we reach a faithful representation. So we can't lose, you and I: I will tell you my fable and you will spot my mistakes and we will end up seeing things more clearly.

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