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Britton, R. (1994). Publication Anxiety: Conflict Between Communication and Affiliation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:1213-1224.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:1213-1224

Publication Anxiety: Conflict Between Communication and Affiliation

Ronald Britton


The author suggests that publication anxiety is ubiquitous and natural; it can produce inhibition, symptomatic disorders of the text, or simply overt anxiety. Anxiety-free publication occurs where anxiety is denied as part of a manic defence which produces complacent orthodoxy, triumphant iconoclasm, or an illusion of originality. A discriminating journal usually detects this and publication fails. If the anxiety is excessive, there may be an inhibition of publication such as afflicted Darwin. Lesser degrees of anxiety may result in distraction or distortion due to a compromise between the urge to communicate an idea and the desire to consolidate affiliation with a significant group through shared language, common belief systems, totemic figures or ritual utterances. The author sees this conflict as internal to the individual. It is shaped by Oedipal anxieties which are given different emphasis and intensity by the scientific contexts current at the time. If the 'paradigm', under the influence of which the analyst is writing is the ascendant, publication is relatively free of anxiety for most writers who are content to add to its application. Some, however, suffer 'anxiety of influence', fearing that their existence as originators of ideas is threatened. When the stability of the paradigm is threatened, due to the accumulation of anomalies, publication anxiety, with both persecutory and depressive elements is intensified. This increases the conflict between the need for affiliation and the desire for communication and may result in defensive writing or distorted texts.

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