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Malkin, E.E. Malkin, M.D. (1976). J.-J. Rousseau: Hints of a Repressed Episode. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 3:331-339.

(1976). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 3:331-339

J.-J. Rousseau: Hints of a Repressed Episode

Edward E. Malkin and Michael D. Malkin

Jean-Jacques Rousseau's paranoia continues to be of remarkable interest (e.g. Chanover, 1974)two centuries after his death in 1778. Its aetiology and course furnish confirmation, impartially, of the major theories of paranoid developments currently advanced, e.g. psychogenic-maturational (Freud), sociocultural (Ove-sey) and metapolitical (Szasz–Laing–Reich). The present paper will call attention to an admittedly speculative 'clue' which may have a crucial bearing, from the Freudian point of view, on the impairment of Rousseau's reality perception.

'So, here I am, alone upon the earth, with no longer a brother, neighbour, friend, nor any company but my own. The most sociable and the most loving of humans has for that very reason been proscribed by an unanimous accord.' These are the opening sentences of the Reveries of a Solitary Walker which Rousseau (1782) was working on when he died. Towards the end of the same work we read: 'The league [against me] is universal, without exception, without hope of reversal' (p. 1077).

One follows the Reveries with admiration: they show Rousseau, to his last breath, a lucid and eloquent observer of himself, humanity and the cosmos. What, then, is delusional about the above passages, or the hundreds of similar pages of the Dialogues: Rousseau as Judge of Jean-Jacques(Rousseau, 1780–1782)in which he battles with unflagging logical intensity against unnamed charges (as well as some that were actually made) drawn up against him by plotters? Were it not for the 'universal', the 'unanimous', the 'without exception', one might be hard put to say.

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