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Mizen., R. (1995). Field, Nathan (London). ‘The Primitive and the Pathological’. British Journal of Psychotherapy (London) 10,4 (1994).. J. Anal. Psychol., 40(3):485-486.

(1995). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 40(3):485-486

Field, Nathan (London). ‘The Primitive and the Pathological’. British Journal of Psychotherapy (London) 10,4 (1994).

Review by:
Richard Mizen.

Edited by:
William Meredith-Owen

It has been said that, at least in its original conception, Freud's theory was one of psychopathology, compared to Jung's, which was a general theory of human psychology. In fact both of these men drew heavily upon experiences of mental disorder, not least their own, in order to extend their general psychological theorizing, an approach which has predominated, now, for nearly one hundred years. To some extent such an approach is inevitable. The function of pain is to draw attention to that which is amiss and by and large the tendency is to notice the unusual, the different. The ordinary, the day to day, is just accepted as the background, relegated perhaps not quite to unconsciousness but at the edge of conscious awareness. Our immediate attention is often only drawn to it by the particular.

A consequence of such an approach, however, is a tendency to extrapolate from the unusual to the everyday, the abnormal to the normal and often our conception of the normal is shaped with reference to disruptive or destructive processes so that normality is defined in terms of the absence of pathology. In such an approach can be found the roots of a bias, not only in depth psychology it should be noted, towards arriving at a conception of normality in terms of that which is abnormal.

In the history of psychoanalytic thinking in particular, the observation of psychological processes as active in protective or destructive ways has often led to the processes themselves as being defined as defensive or destructive.

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