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Langer, M. (1989). Psychoanalysis without the couch. Free Associations, 1P(15):60-66.

(1989). Free Associations, 1P(15):60-66

Psychoanalysis without the couch

Marie Langer

The relationship between psychoanalysis and Marxist psychology is a long history of misunderstandings. In the 1920s and 30s there was a passionate discussion between Soviet psychologists and German-speaking psychoanalysts interested in linking their science with Marxism and making it acceptable in the Soviet Union. Then Hitler acceded to power in Germany and annexed Austria and the majority of psychoanalysts went into exile, so the discussion was cut off.

But I do not want to go into this long history. I would rather limit myself to three criticisms and reproaches made from the Soviet side towards psychoanalysis:

1.   Psychoanalysis seemed to them conceivable only as a bourgeois, decadent and idealistic practice. The couch was converted into a symbol of its lack of seriousness. Now then, why did analysis develop in this way? It emerged from Sigmund Freud's private practice. He did not have a laboratory to experiment in, in the way that the Soviet psychologist F.V. Bassin required. Freud, a bourgeois, was analysing in an intimate setting the sick world of other bourgeois; besides, he had to charge fees in order to keep his family. All that is true. Castel, in his book El Psicoanalismo [Psychoanalism], criticizes psychoanalysis for excluding the external world and the class struggle from the dialogue inasmuch as both analyst and analysand belong to the same class.

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