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Crowley, R.M. (1984). Notes on Sullivan's One-Genus Postulate—Sullivan and Others. Contemp. Psychoanal., 20:156-160.

(1984). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 20:156-160

Notes on Sullivan's One-Genus Postulate—Sullivan and Others

Ralph M. Crowley, M.D.

IN SULLIVAN'S OWN WORDS, (1953pp. 32–33) it reads: "We shall assume that everyone is much more simply human than otherwise " (Italics Sullivan's).

Of the many formulations of this principle of the universality and unity of the manifestations of human behavior and thinking, this is the only one he labeled (about 1946) one-genus postulate. It is also one of his most succinct statements of the concept.

According to Helen Swick Perry (Sullivan, 1962, frontispiece), a more extended formulation of the same principle appeared in one of Sullivan's notebooks under the heading, "Species Identity Theorem." Sullivan (1962, frontispiece) writes: "… and the speciesidentity of all the people with whom we are primarily concerned, be they genius or imbecile, 'saint' or 'fiend incarnate, ' friend or foe, 'sane' or 'insane." He then formulates the principle thus: "Everyone and anyone is much more simply human than otherwise, more like everyone else than different. …"

Between 1925 and 1944, and after 1946, the concept was articulated in many articles in varied vocabulary without his attaching any label to the various restatements. For example, one of my favorites is: (Sullivan, 1940p. 7) "… we are much more simply human than otherwise, be we happy and successful, contented and detached, miserable and mentally disturbed, or whatsoever." And for the benefit of psychiatrists, (1940p. 47) "Everyone is much more simply human than unique, and that no matter what ails the patient, he is mostly (italics Sullivan) like the psychiatrist."

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