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Stokes, A. (1966). On Being Taken out of Oneself. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:523-530.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:523-530

On Being Taken out of Oneself

Adrian Stokes

I discuss a possible reason why we like to be taken out of ourselves, a phrase applied to an apparent forgetfulness of the self's interests in identification with society, to the adoption of any wide cause, or even to the narrow preoccupation of work, indeed to any activity that seems to distract attention from the protagonists of the conflicts that we already know. 'Ourselves' of the phrase appears to be an object subjected to conscious tensions. I doubt whether we seem to forsake ourselves pre-eminently in plain object-love, in caring for our families, or in vehement preoccupation with any figure or group. These objects are closely entangled with the selves we incessantly recognize, whereas I have in mind a field of preoccupation that in contrast seems remote and free. It is this, perhaps small, element of occasional impersonality that I seek to isolate, no doubt defensive in character as are all sublimations in one aspect, and all depersonalization. But it is not the defensive aspect with which I am concerned.

We may sometimes need new activities to replace the more entangled activity which formerly took us out of ourselves. And so there comes about an ascending scale of greater and less permanence in activities that perform this service. In the case of experiences of solitude—and it is those I have in mind—many people would agree that at the top of the scale there figure, however momentarily, some contemplative states in the presence of Nature, of the sea, of trees.

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