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Whitehead, C.C. (2005). FRONTLINE—A New Paradigm for the Third Psychoanalytic Revolution. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 33(3):425-430.

(2005). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 33(3):425-430

FRONTLINE—A New Paradigm for the Third Psychoanalytic Revolution

Dr. Clay C. Whitehead, M.D.

About a century ago, Freud, using his mind to study the mind of himself and others, first developed a systematic understanding of the unconscious, and linked his work to the methodology of science that permeated his intellectual environment. Unable to connect these mental processes to the organic substrate that sustained them, he resolved to “remain on psychological ground.” To solve his dilemma, he made the metapsychological assumption splitting mind and brain. This inspired decision represented a singularity in cultural evolution of near-miraculous proportions, and the first psychoanalytic revolution had begun.

Freud's studies transformed his age. His discoveries were progressively employed in the effort to assist disordered minds, and soon transformed psychiatry, education, the humanities, the arts, and the role of women during the following decades.

Freud's death was immediately followed by World War II, and both events seem to have potentiated the emergence of a second post—Freudian psychoanalytic revolution. The essence of Freud's thought had found acceptance, but the euphoric idealization of science and power led the American Psychoanalytic Association to attempt control of the new adaptational acquisition. Bowlby's nonmetapsychological and evolutionary studies were virtually suppressed, despite early signs that the emerging classical model was deficient. A reactionary period of consolidation, canonization, hypertrophy, and partition followed, and elements of the field later drifted toward nilihistic postmodernism.

In contrast, during the early stages of this second revolution, the founders of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis in 1956 launched their organization. It emphasized their interest in social reality, femininity, and aversion to dogma. These efforts sought to return balance to a movement that now excessively stressed masculinized self-assertion (phallic narcissism). Importantly, during this period, many psychiatrists learned to use newly developed medications, as well as therapeutic empathy.

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