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Michels, R. (1973). Science and Psychoanalysis, Vol. XX. the Dynamics of Power: Edited by Jules H. Masserman, M.D. New York: Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1972. 214 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 42:637-639.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:637-639

Science and Psychoanalysis, Vol. XX. the Dynamics of Power: Edited by Jules H. Masserman, M.D. New York: Grune & Stratton, Inc., 1972. 214 pp.

Review by:
Robert Michels

The Scientific Proceedings of the May, 1971 meeting of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis are published as The Dynamics of Power, Volume XX of Science and Psychoanalysis. There are seventeen papers more or less related to the central theme, and two special papers, the presidential address by Eric Wittkower and the Frieda Fromm-Reichmann Award address by Bruno Bettelheim.

Since the time of Adler, power has not been a central concept in the main stream of psychoanalytic thinking. Many of the papers in this symposium give the impression of straining to fit a preselected title—responses to the assignment 'write a paper relevant to Psychoanalysis which includes the term "Power" in the title'. The results are mixed, sometimes pedestrian, but sometimes suggestive of new and interesting points of view.

The term 'power' has several meanings in the symposium. One theme is introduced by John Schimel who cites Sullivan's definition of power as 'having weight and influence in interpersonal affairs'. Silvano Arieti adds a strongly negative connotation: 'a force which is experienced by the individual as thwarting, deflecting, inhibiting, or arresting one's will, one's freedom, or one's capacity for growth'. A second emphasis is suggested by Kurt Adler, who quotes Alfred Adler: 'a feeling of inferiority … demands an enhancement of the self-esteem. Here the fictional final purpose of the striving for power gains enormous influence'; and again, 'The personal striving for power is a concretization of the general striving for perfection'.

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