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Schmidl, F. (1960). Psychoanalysis and Existential Analysis. Psychoanal Q., 29:344-354.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:344-354

Psychoanalysis and Existential Analysis

Fritz Schmidl

During the period immediately following World War II, 'existentialism' became a well-known but, by and large, not well understood concept. 'Existential analysis' (Daseinsanalyse) differs from existentialism but is related to it. A small number of books and articles on it in the fields of psychiatry and psychoanalysis has appeared, and a recent collection of essays entitled, Existence: A New Dimension in Psychiatry and Psychology (13), has aroused some curiosity. Alexander's report on the discussions of existential thought at the Fourth International Congress of Psychotherapy in 1958 (1) and the discussion of psychiatry and existentialism at the meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in 1959 (2) have increased the interest in this topic.

As far as the American professional public is concerned it can be assumed that any curiosity about existentialism is tinged with a certain amount of scepticism. There is an aura of metaphysics about existentialism and existential analysis which does not accord with the American philosophical tradition of pragmatism and realism; yet this is insufficient reason to ignore something that is new. The theorist is curious to find out what existentialism means, and whether it may help to understand and aid human beings. The practitioner will be interested in the fact that some authors, e.g., Van Dusen (18), stated that the new theory which originated in continental Europe is sufficiently developed to be introduced to this country. It has been reported (1959) that two organizations for this purpose have been founded in the United States. Existential analysis is based upon existentialism. Existentialism is defined in the dictionary as 'an introspective humanism or theory of man which expresses the individual's intense awareness of his contingency and freedom'.

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