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Riggall, R.M. (1925). Applied Psycho-Analysis: William McDougall. Professor Freud's Group Psychology and his Theory of Suggestion. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1925, Vol. V, p. 14.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 6:481-482.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Applied Psycho-Analysis: William McDougall. Professor Freud's Group Psychology and his Theory of Suggestion. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1925, Vol. V, p. 14.

(1925). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 6:481-482

Applied Psycho-Analysis: William McDougall. Professor Freud's Group Psychology and his Theory of Suggestion. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1925, Vol. V, p. 14.

Robert M. Riggall

In this paper, which is a contribution to the Morton Prince Commemoration Volume, McDougall criticizes Freud's views on group psychology. He commences in a sarcastic vein and accuses Freud of inconsistency in his

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remarks on individual peculiarities in the group and in his use of the words cruel, brutal and destructive as applied to instincts. Freud recognizes McDougall's fundamental paradox of group psychology, namely, that although the crowd degrades the individual below his normal level, it is only by group life that man rises above the level of animal life. McDougall complains that in spite of this recognition, Freud rejects his explanation of organization and merely restates the problem without suggesting an alternative solution. He also complains that his theory of the intensified emotional reaction of crowds is misunderstood because Freud states that he (McDougall) explains the fact 'by means of the emotional contagion with which we are already familiar'. McDougall protests that he does not explain them, and endeavours at some length to show that although le Bon treats this emotional contagion as a manifestation of suggestion, he believes it to be a fundamental phenomenon quite distinct. In his Introduction to Social Psychology he states that he clearly distinguishes these points and propounds a distinct theory of suggestion which Freud appears to have overlooked. He argues that in gregarious animals there is a distinct and specific instinct of submission and that this is the main conative factor at work in true suggestion. He states that Freud has not attempted to define ego-instincts, but that if he had he would have found them identical with the instincts of self-assertion and submission. McDougall now proceeds to quarrel with Freud's theory of libidinal ties on the one hand to the leader, and on the other hand to the other members of the group. He suggests that these ties may have been asserted to be present by Freud in order to make Group Psychology a mere annex of his psycho-analytic system. Freud's distinction between true panic and mere collective fear, the former characterized by the death of the leader, is now examined. He thinks that this theory should have been supported by citations of authentic cases from the late war. McDougall regards a panic as a function of an instinct operating in an unorganized group and not as a function of the group mind as stated by Freud. A later statement shows that he is unable to understand Freud's comprehensive libido theory; he thinks it would be much simpler to recognize parental love as quite different from the sexual instinct. He supports his preference for an independent parental instinct by remarking that in most animals the two instincts operate quite independently. The group as a revival of the primal horde is criticized on the score that less extravagant explanations are possible; that it leaves the leaderless group unexplained; it fails to explain the suggestibility of the members of a group toward one another; finally it reduces all social life to the working of an atavistic regression, and makes sexual jealousy and envy the roots of noble manifestations, but leaves these roots unexplained. McDougall concludes by saying 'not proven and wildly improbable'. He, personally, intends to try to avoid the spell of the primal horde father.

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Article Citation [Who Cited This?]

Riggall, R.M. (1925). Applied Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 6:481-482

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