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Van Schelven, T. (1929). Psychiatry and Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 10:357-362.

(1929). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 10:357-362

Psychiatry and Psycho-Analysis

Th. Van Schelven

Of recent years the attitude of psychiatrists to psycho-analysis has gradually altered. Only a little time ago one might witness a psycho-analytical lecture given at a meeting of a psychiatric society being greeted with roars of laughter. To-day our opponents refrain from this sort of resistance, for laughter, formerly looked on as a proof of intellectual superiority, might now be regarded as indicating narrow-mindedness. We may admit that analysis is coming into fashion.

This outward success has little to do with the inner value of analysis. That value does not stand or fall with the number of its adherents or the manner in which it is received. Neither does the authority, the social position or the scientific bent of adherents or opponents prove anything for or against analysis. Both truth and error have their martyrs, and each has been defended by the loftiest intellects with all their might. Goethe and Newton were the most vehement adversaries; so were Schopenhauer and Hegel. It is easier for posterity to choose between the theories of these great men and to give the preference to one or the other than to judge between the love of truth and integrity of this thinker or that. It is always extremely dangerous to adopt or reject a theory on account of the standing of its opponents or its disciples. Authority is a very untrustworthy guide. If we let our judgement of psycho-analysis be swayed by the verdict of those psychiatrists, authorities in their profession, who are now its adherents, we should be making just as great a mistake as if we had rejected it with them in former years. Facts alone are of value.

Psycho-analysis itself by no means rejects psychiatric methods. 'You will admit', Freud says, 'that there is nothing essential in the work of psychiatry which could oppose psycho-analytic researches. It is therefore the psychiatrists who oppose it, and not psychiatry itself. Psycho-analysis stands to psychiatry more or less as histology does to anatomy; in one, the outer forms of organs are studied, in the other, the construction of these out of the tissues and constituent elements.

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