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Krim, M. (1999). A Review of Otto Rank: A Psychology of Difference. The American Lectures: Robert Kramer. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996. 284 pp; and Separation, Will, and Creativity: The Wisdom of Otto Rank by Esther Menaker. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996. 234 pp.. Contemp. Psychoanal., 35(1):166-170.

(1999). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 35(1):166-170

Otto Rank: Unacknowledged Genius

A Review of Otto Rank: A Psychology of Difference. The American Lectures: Robert Kramer. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996. 284 pp; and Separation, Will, and Creativity: The Wisdom of Otto Rank by Esther Menaker. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson, 1996. 234 pp.

Review by:
Murray Krim, Ph.D.

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“I HAVE LONG CONSIDERED OTTO RANK to be the unacknowledged genius in Freud's circle,” says Rollo May in his introduction to Kramer's book. With time, we have come to see Rank as a genius. At the beginning of his association with Freud, he was a star pupil and colleague. When his thinking became so different as to threaten the basic structure of classical Freudian theory, he was dangerous to the Freudian establishment. Ernest Jones and Karl Abraham engineered his excommunication from the temple. For years, Rank's voice was silenced. People knew little of him, other than his ideas about the trauma of birth and the setting of a time limit on therapy to replicate psychologically the process of birth, an idea he later gave up.

A basic tenet of Rank's thought was that there is in man a prewired force (he called it will) that strives for separateness, for uniqueness, for individualization, and that this force is more central in human development than the classical striving for pleasure, sexual (oedipal) possessiveness, and tension release, albeit these strivings also exist.

Rank (1935) defined will as “an autonomous organization to control primarily the impulsive self: This organization, however, represents the total personality with its constructive capacity not only for ruling, developing, and changing the surrounding world, but for re-creating its true self” (Kramer, p. 253). This radical theoretical shift was only one of the ways his thinking differed

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