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Home, H.J. (1966). The Concept of Mind. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:42-49.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:42-49

The Concept of Mind

H. J. Home


This paper perhaps requires an introduction, since both its subject matter and its method may be somewhat unfamiliar to psycho-analysts. It does not, for example, take a clinical experience and examine it in the light of psycho-analytic theory; nor does it seek to criticize psycho-analytic theory in the light of a clinical example; nor yet again to extend psycho-analytic theory in any given direction. It seeks rather to ask the fundamental question 'What is psycho-analysis about?', 'What essentially characterizes its subject matter?', 'What sort of theories can validly be constructed about it?' and it tentatively suggests an answer which, if it is correct, would have implications for theory. In a small way this is an attempt to write a philosophical essay and in writing it I have felt particularly encouraged by Bion's later theoretical papers because of the boldness and novelty of his approach, although I think there are insurmountable difficulties in it. I have also been stimulated by the work of Bowlby, Sandler, Fairbairn, Brierley, Colby, and Guntrip, all of whom seem to me to have expressed at different times a recognition that psycho-analytical theory has serious logical difficulties, that many of its concepts are ill-defined and many terms in regular use for clinical description ambiguously employed. Outside the immediate field of psycho-analysis I know myself incalculably indebted to Suzanne Langer and Teilhard de Chardin, and also to W. Furstenheim of Frankfurt-am-Main with whom I had a protracted dialogue on the mind/body problem and through whom I came to know the ideas of philosophers such as Ayer, Ryle, and Strawson, whose questions are blowing in the wind.

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