The editor of the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology inaugurated a symposium on psychoanalysis by experimental psychologists who had had 'first hand acquaintance of psychoanalysis in the rôle of analysdans'. The symposium, which comprises highly stimulating statements on many analytic problems without following any problem through in detail, consists of ten articles. Eight of these were written by experimental psychologists, two of them by practicing analysts, the latter including comments on the other eight articles.
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Alexander states in the last article of the symposium, that while anyone writing about his own analysis is dealing with an emotionally charged topic, all of the participants were nevertheless intellectually and emotionally honest. He further states that in psychoanalysis there will be an increasing 'demand for greater conceptual clarity, for quantitative method, the introduction of experimental procedure, and the coördination of psychoanalytic findings with physiology and the social sciences'.
Autobiographical Statements of the Authors. All of the authors give some biographical account of their contact with psychoanalysis. Alexander's story is a cultural document of a sort, since much of the drama of the rise, opposition to, and final acceptance of analysis occurred in his relationship with his father, a prominent philosopher and leader in Hungarian intellectual life. In the hierarchy of the human values of the period first came the arts and philosophy, with psychology considered part of philosophy. Only then came the natural sciences, with medicine closing the ranks. Accordingly, when the son, instead of studying archæology and the classics, entered medical school and became research worker in a physiological laboratory, the father felt that he had forgotten the 'essential problems of man'. Under the influence of a schizophrenic's insistent accounts of his dreams (Alexander was studying blood chemistry), and contact with an analyst, he reread Freud's Interpretation of Dreams which he had discarded some years back as being 'crazy'. His interest in analysis after that fluctuated. He considered the accomplishments of modern physiology more fundamental and wanted to devote himself to teaching and research, instead of to the practice of psychoanalysis, which was 'a horror in the eyes of the philosopher father' because of the sexual topics involved. The son finally turned towards psychoanalysis after the following incident. His father, 'a great Shakespearean student, had devoted a classical volume of five hundred pages to the solution of the question of Hamlet's hesitation to take revenge on his uncle'. When the son spoke to him once about Ernest Jones' idea that the solution of the puzzle lay in the Oedipus complex, the father lost his temper. The son 'felt that he was witnessing the tragedy of the clash between the best of the past and the best of the present in human knowledge'. Seven years later the father read the manuscript of the son's first book on psychoanalysis, and voiced his new conviction that 'Freud's teachings were the beginning of the first real psychology'. He died in his sleep months later and 'on his night table lay open the last issue of the Psychoanalytic Almanac in which the old philosopher had published his first and last treatise on psychoanalysis … a comparison of Freud's repression theory with Spinoza's view concerning the rule of the intellect over the emotions'.
The account is of further interest because its author achieved a synthesis of various disciplines (psychosomatic studies), showing thereby, as other participants in the symposium, the value of training in other fields. Murray, likewise, at the end of his delightful article recommends a broad training for the psychologist including neurology, statistics, animal and clinical psychology, psychoanalysis, and sociology.
The Participants' Reactions to Their Respective Analyses. All of the accounts give confirmatory evidence of phenomena observable in clear context only under the circumstances of analytic treatment as, for example, Landis'
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report of anxiety 'pervading all his thinking and interpersonal relations'. Some of the participants report therapeutic success; others, failure.
Examples of the first type are those of Symonds and Shakow. Shakow undertook to be analyzed for the purpose of training, but realized, although not fully, that he had therapeutic needs. After his initial attitude of resentment ('anyone trying to tell me, a psychologist, about myself!') was overcome, he became coöperative. When, after periods of discouragement, hope, insight, anxiety, and recurrences of resentment, his analysis ended, he found that although the hoped for 'miracles' did not occur, he had grown in maturity, learned to face himself and others better, and had acquired an 'ability to handle social relations with increased poise and assurance'. Shakow's experience was that perplexing difficulties were resolved with less pain, and new material appeared faster, if the analyst attempted reconstructions.
An account of therapeutic failure is given by Boring followed by comments of Sachs, Boring's analyst. Boring entered analysis because of an 'emotional crisis', which left him sterile for creative work. His suffering, readiness to make sacrifices, and external conditions favored therapeutic success. He reacted emotionally to his analyst, but never considered him the most important person in his life. Not a single dream analysis proved satisfactory and no unconscious memories were recovered. The analytic philosophy, that 'if you do not do what you can do, then you do not want to do it', roused his ire. When analysis terminated after ten months, he was distraught: 'I had eagerly awaited the light from heaven … and … the analysis petered out in an uneventful session'.
Although he won some new insights concerning emotional needs and professional ambition, Boring has not regained satisfactory productivity and is not a poised person. Acts of aggression disturb him deeply and interrupt his creative efforts. 'The analysis, which started for the purpose of clarifying one situation, ended by needing to clarify another. Since it was myself more than the particular situation that wanted clarifying, I do not see how this event could have changed the analysis from success to failure.'
Sachs comments that Boring came for treatment with a character problem, not a clearly defined neurosis. In such situations, the analyst, so as not to risk a breakdown, may have to leave psychological structures untouched, which although distressing, formed an intrinsic part since childhood of the patient's character and of the best in his existence. Differing on one point with Boring, Sachs states that the new situation towards the end of the analysis amounted to a 'potential trauma'. The accomplishment of the analysis was that through its support it prevented a breakdown, probably a depression.
Criteria for analytic success, according to Sachs, are difficult to establish in the absence of adequate yardsticks for (a) the seriousness of the neurosis, (b) the strength of forces opposing therapy, (c) the extent of therapeutic result. To complicate matters, changes in external situations may play a rôle in successful cures also; still, psychoanalysis, working on causation, is the most thorough and sometimes the only efficient and endurable therapy available at present.
The reviewer considers the approach attempted in the symposium valuable. A study based on the experiences of analysts in the rôle of analysands would
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likewise be instructive, the great difficulty being the limitation of privacy if the individual's identity is known. Furthermore, an analysand writing a lengthy report during his analysis would sidetrack many problems; thus the records would have to be made largely by the analyst. Both the patient's and the analyst's evaluations are needed, as shown by Boring's and Sachs's comparative evaluations. Likewise, the analyst may evaluate a reported improvement and its reasons differently from the analysand. The value of the approach is that there has been a constant growth in the analytic frame of reference and technique in its forty years of existence effected both by confirmatory evidence and by difficulties and failures. The reviewer believes that this approach would hasten this general progress, particularly if it could be based on verbatim records.
Synthesis in Research and Formulation of Principles. The symposium contains many novel and clear formulations and accounts of accomplished or suggested syntheses in method. According to J. F. Brown, analysis comprises a method of psychological observation, collecting data, theoretical constructions, and a method of psychotherapy. This differentiation is indispensable for clarity of discussion.
Frankel-Brunswick discussing the 'distal approach' (emphasis on objective phenomena) and the 'central approach' (constructing the individual's behavior on the basis of dynamic forces), reports her finding that objectives which younger adults listed under 'feeling of duty' appeared in older adults under the heading of 'wishes', paralleling the internalization of cultural values in the formation of the superego (Freud). She points out that in the reactions of children to sets of pictures (Murray), one can elicit contentual—e.g., the mention of killing implying aggression—or formal responses, e.g., realistic or fantastic. Correlations between the two types of data, e.g., aggression and degree of realism, can be computed.
Willoughby writes: '… both in problem solving in general and in a favorable reaction to psychoanalytic interpretation, the insight experience is regularly followed by the perception of previously hidden connections, the dropping out of irrelevant attitudes and hypotheses—and more active attempt at solution. The process evidently has relationships to Gestalt concepts and to the perceptual reorganizations that have been shown to be important factors in learning.'
Alexander points out that psychoanalysis developed a method of investigation adjusted to the nature of the human personality. Psychoanalysis, by the utmost utilization of communication by speech, perfected the everyday method of getting insight into another individual's psychological processes through observation and identification. 'With his dynamic approach, Freud substantiated in detail Fechner's theoretically assumed stability principle …: [that] the total functioning of the mental apparatus is directed towards maintaining a consistent level of excitation within the organism … methods … highly refined during many years of … experimentation can … now be applied for the validation and quantitative exploration of the qualitative relationships and principles' which have been clinically explored by psychoanalysis.
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Mittelmann, B. (1942). Symposium: Psychoanalysis as Seen by Analyzed Psychologists. Psychoanal. Q., 11:276-279