Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To see author affiliation information in an article…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To see author affiliation and contact information (as available) in an article, simply click on the Information icon next to the author’s name in every journal article.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Briant, M. (1987). The Psychoanalytic Movement by Ernest Gellner. Published by Paladin Books: London 1985, 241 pp.; £3.50 paperback.. Brit. J. Psychother., 3(3):269-274.

(1987). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 3(3):269-274

Book Reviews

The Psychoanalytic Movement by Ernest Gellner. Published by Paladin Books: London 1985, 241 pp.; £3.50 paperback.

Review by:
Michael Briant

This book is concerned with the success of psychoanalysis which, the author argues, has become the dominant way of thinking about human relations in the past eighty odd years. Those who have struggled to be allowed to practise psychoanalytic psychotherapy in the NHS or in similar institutions may be rather surprised at such a claim, as also might the many students who have embarked on psychology degrees hoping that their courses would include a systematic study of psychoanalytic ideas, but Gellner probably has the situation in the USA uppermost in his mind, and there indeed the triumph of the ‘Psychoanalytic Movement’ reminds one of the Christian conquest of the Roman Empire - except that it has been much more rapid. Gellner, like Gibbon, believes that this cries out for explanation, more particularly, he asserts, as the ideas involved are invalid, untestable and largely ineffective as a form of therapy.

Gellner's attack is two pronged. That is, he is concerned with both the sociology of psychoanalysis as well as its inner logic. Psychoanalysis, he argues, is an ideology, an ideology whose adherents persistently refuse to submit their beliefs to external validation. When challenged, they typically defend their claims with ad hominem arguments: if one does not agree with them this can only be because one's powers of perception have been queered by interference from a malignant unconscious. Thus the response of one senior American psychoanalyst to someone who took issue with psychoanalysis at a public meeting was to enquire whether the critic's father or brother were analysts (p.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

Copyright © 2019, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.