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Wangh, M. (1972). Some Unconscious Factors in the Psychogenesis of Recent Student Uprisings. Psychoanal Q., 41:207-223.

(1972). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 41:207-223

Some Unconscious Factors in the Psychogenesis of Recent Student Uprisings

Martin Wangh, M.D.

Books and papers by authors seeking to explain the recent agitation of the student population have crowded in upon us. With many of the arguments presented I am in substantial agreement. However, because I feel that the psychoanalytic perspective has not been sufficiently utilized in the search for an explanation of the events, this paper will examine some of the psychogenetic causes that I believe underlay the 'student rebellion' of the late 1960's. In addition to the many general factors, I propose that in a great number of the students there was an unconscious preoccupation with experiences that occurred during their childhood, of which their recent behavioral phenomena were emerging derivatives. These considerations must, of course, remain speculative until a methodology for validation can be developed—a methodology which is urgently needed to encompass the whole of the reverberating relationship between individual psychology and group experience.

For a student, the university is the final contact with his childhood; from there he steps into adult life. In the best of circumstances, the anticipation of this step fills the young individual with anxiety. Yet it seems to me that during the period under discussion this normal anxiety was re-enforced by a reactivated traumatic anxiety of childhood.

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