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Sachs, H. (1939). The Prospects of Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 20:460-464.

(1939). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 20:460-464

The Prospects of Psycho-Analysis

H. Sachs

The title of this paper is not intended as an indication of the future trends of psycho-analytical research. Its aims are less ambitious. It is concerned with the forms which the development of psycho-analytical investigation will assume in the near or remote future, tracing among the factors already in existence those that seem pregnant with significance for further development. An attempt of this sort can be made without claiming the gift of prophecy.

Scientific endeavour represents the highest form of adaptation to the reality principle hitherto achieved; but any actual science—that is, a sum of experience, observation, results of experimentation, with the addition of generalizations, theories and hypotheses—is by no means the pure and unalloyed product of scientific endeavour. It shows, like everything else, traces of unconscious wishes and anxieties, in the form of blindness to unwelcome facts or their distortion by wishful thinking. Nor are the forces of the super-egotradition, the authority of a master, religious awe—regularly on the side of the simple truth. Every science retains the imprints of its origin, of the personal influence of those master-minds by whom it was created and expanded, of the blind obedience or revolt of later generations in relation to their predecessors. In short, the human mind is present in it as an undivided and indivisible unit with all its single parts and tendencies. The development of a science is certainly less swayed by emotions and phantasies than that of political, social or religious concepts, but it would be a great mistake to accept its veracity and accuracy in details as a full proof of a systematic, serene and undisturbed progress towards the goal of ultimate truth. Personalities and animosities, great and small, are retained in it like fossils and preserved where the scholarly mind does not recognize them under their disguise of strict logic and sweet reasonableness. Again, at certain times the answers to this or that problem are urgently needed and the demand for them gets satisfied, even when the actual state of knowledge makes the discovery of the right answers impossible.

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