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(1949). Joint Meetings of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Psychoanalytic Societies. Psychoanal Q., 18:413.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 18:413

Joint Meetings of the Los Angeles and San Francisco Psychoanalytic Societies

October 9, 1948. PSYCHODYNAMICS OF THE INTELLECTUAL. Herbert I. Kupper, M.D.

Why do many renowned thinkers, who have devoted their lives to rational, scientific thought, suddenly turn to religious, mystical, or political faiths? The author traces the use of speech and thought as a defense against instinct among the intellectuals. The chief defense is against the oral, nonverbal, preoedipal attachment to the mother. All thinkers deny this mystic affective union by the very act of thinking. Concepts, abstractions, words are so many breasts to be mouthed lovingly. When thinking fails, and with aging, the loss of objects, or the approach of death (the ultimate separation), conversion to a faith often occurs. Clinical excerpts are given, and the case history of a well-known intellectual who was converted to Catholicism is reported in detail. The search for truth is partly a search for instinctual satisfaction, partly the mature ego's seeking for the betterment of society; however, the affect displayed in this search for truth may so distort rational thinking that there is an unconscious search for an 'absolute' faith. The conflict is solved by submergence of the instincts and the ego into an all-knowing authority. A common compromise is a rational mode of thought with an irrational emotional response to it. The difficulty in discussing politics or religion without vituperation is an instance. It is difficult for the ego of individuals who libidinize thinking to live with doubts, to sustain the function of testing reality, to withstand narcissistic blows in the search for truth, and, at the same time, to see new things in nature—to venture very far from the preoedipal Mother Nature.

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