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Kardiner, A. (1978). The Social Distress Syndrome of Our Time, Part 2. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 6(2):215-230.

(1978). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 6(2):215-230

The Social Distress Syndrome of Our Time, Part 2

Abram Kardiner

Social Distress in Our Time (Continuation)

If Brown's observations on shifting sexual identity are correct, and if the paradigm of Linton's Tanala and Calhoun's rats are valid, are we then making a legitimate comparison with the symptoms or social distress in our time? I believe it is; because the symptoms are the same. There is widespread deterioration of human relations: Crime in the streets, wholesale murders; great increase in mutual hatred; the splintering of society into separatist enclaves, based on color, creed, national origin. Homosexuality with the aid of powerful lobbies and an indifferent press, is on the rise in both sexes. Out of control of their environments, people are frightened, angry, and live with a constant apprehension of the future. The family is decaying, dominated by the separatist interests of its members for some kind of self-realization. Superstition is on the rise. Astrologists and fortune tellers are increasing. When people stand in line for ten hours to see the movie, “The Exorcist,” there is trouble about. For here we see EVIL personified, captured, and destroyed. Here is instant salvation!

The brilliant beginning of the liberal creed at the end of the 18th century is thus coming to a crashing end. Two world wars and a devastating depression showed us the weaknesses of monopolistic capitalism. Were it not for these two circumstances, as Heilbroner points out, the increase in per capita production and the welfare programs, capitalism would have been abandoned long ago. The Hitlerian “solution” is a frightening illustration of what can happen when an impoverished middle-class seeks a violent, murderous solution to its predicament.

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