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Hinshelwood, B. (1990). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 7(1):3-4.

(1990). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 7(1):3-4


Bob Hinshelwood

American psycho-analysis has been in a deepening crisis for a decade or two. Much of the problem seems to have been the considerable emphasis on the ‘ego’ as a phenomenon objectively observed by the analyst. This reduced psycho-analytic understanding, in the literature at least, to rather mechanistic formulations of the psycho-economics of the ego. And it happens, of course, in the presence of a feeling patient who has a subjective experience of himself and what is going on with him during his analysis. The tendency to displace subjectivity from psycho-analysis, however buttressed by specific selections of Freud's writings, must result in an increasing tension within the profession itself. The result has been two developments: Firstly an antagonistic move against psycho-analysis as too deeply flawed to continue taking seriously, and the consequent development of humanistic psychologies, alternative therapies and latterly integrative attempts to rescue something of psychoanalysis. Secondly there has been a continuing struggle within American psychoanalysis to rescue something of the patient's subjectivity through ‘humanising’ psychoanalysis (e.g. Fromm 1971, The Crisis of Psycho-Analysis; Bettelheim 1983, Freud and Man's Soul); and to change its direction towards the experiencing self and not just the functioning ego.

It is the internal contradiction within Freud's writings and the contradiction within American psycho-analysis which Susan Kelen addresses.

[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.]

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