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Alexander, F. (1928). II a Reply to Reich's Criticism. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 9:240-246.

(1928). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 9:240-246

II a Reply to Reich's Criticism Related Papers

Franz Alexander

Reich has done my little essay Neurose und Gesamtpersönlichkeit the honour of submitting it to an exhaustive critical discussion. His criticisms are not connected by any single line of argument: they are, in fact, often actually contradictory, and can, therefore, be rebutted only one by one.

His most general objection, though not aimed directly at my work, is that, while he welcomes the application to clinical material of the fresh points of view presented in the ego-theory, he condemns speculative experiments, amongst which he evidently includes my essay. Now since this essay is devoted almost exclusively to the appreciation of one of the earliest psycho-analytical discoveries, namely, that neurosis signifies the simultaneous gratification of wish-tendencies and tendencies to self-punishment, I cannot enter any further into a discussion of this wholly unjustified reproach. It is inconsistent with Reich's statement of his antispeculative attitude that he attempts to refute my theories mainly by means of purely speculative objections, without examining in any detail the material which, it is true, was indicated only cursorily in my short article. The points which he adduces from clinical practice as disproving my theories quite clearly confirm them.

One of his philosophical objections is that the need for punishment cannot play so important a part in the formation of the neuroses as I and Reik suppose, because it is certainly not a 'primary' fact, nor are the inhibitions which proceed from the super-ego primary. Reich's remarks make it appear as if I conceived of the instinct-inhibiting action of the super-ego as something primary. There is not the slightest justification for this idea. In the essay under discussion I refer to my earlier paper (Metapsychologische Darstellung des Heilungsvorganges), and call the super-ego an introjected legal code of olden times, which in the course of time loses its connection with the outside world and continues to oppose to the claims of sex the old prohibitions belonging to the child-level.

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