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Van Teslaar, J.S. (1921). The Significance of Psychoanalysis in the History of Science. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 2:339-353.

(1921). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 2:339-353

The Significance of Psychoanalysis in the History of Science

James S. Van Teslaar


In the history of science it is not often that it falls to the lot of a single investigator to inaugurate an entirely new method of research or to discover a whole group of general laws, each valid, each equally fundamental.

Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, has done both: he has inaugurated the analytic method of inquiry which is being successfully applied to all the manifestations and products of mental activity; and through the careful use of this technique he has uncovered fundamental principles hitherto either wholly unrecognised or perceived but vaguely.

For the first time psychoanalysis introduces true order and understanding into some of the most obscure and baffling provinces of the mind—phobias, compulsions, obsessions and dreams.

For the first time, too, we are acquiring true insight into the meaning, the psychic development and mechanism of that most dreadful of all personal calamities, mental breakdown or insanity; and through the aid of psychoanalysis correct principles are being evolved for its prevention—in so far as mental disorder may be preventable.

Although psychoanalytic research is only in its initial stage, it has already thrown a flood of light on mental growth during infancy, childhood and adolescence; and the respective educational and hygienic requirements are becoming clear as the development of human personality is traced with scientific accuracy. The unfoldment of character traits is becoming a study as objective in its technique and results as any study of natural history. Human behaviour is being subjected to scientific scrutiny at last without the handicap of ego-centric presuppositions.

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