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Kutter, P. (1998). Prologue: A Short History of Psychoanalytic Psychosomatics in German-Speaking Countries. Psychoanal. Inq., 18(3):335-343.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 18(3):335-343

Prologue: A Short History of Psychoanalytic Psychosomatics in German-Speaking Countries

Peter Kutter, M.D.

The Philosophical and Romantic Tradition

In contrast to the English-speaking world, psychoanalytic psychosomatics in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland has been strongly influenced by a broad European background. It is characterized above all by the Occidental philosophy of the so-called Enlightenment and by the literary epoch of Romanticism. The common basis, as in the English-speaking countries, is naturally the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud. From a historical view, however, the influence of such outstanding figures as Paracelsus (1493-1541) and Mesmer (1734-1815) on the thinking and feeling of the people in Europe about body and mind cannot be disregarded. Poets such as Novalis; physicians such as Carl Gustav Carus (1789-1869); and philosophers such as Kant (1724-1804), Nietzsche (1844-1900), and Schopenhauer (1788-1860) worked intensively on the complicated relationships between body and mind. These included from the beginning the instincts, affects, feelings, and “evil,” as well as the dreams, the “illogical” or “unconscious,” and sexuality. Nietzsche (1966) discovered repression: “I did this, my memory says. I cannot have done it, my pride says, and remains implacable. Finally memory yields” (p. 625). Even Freud's concept of the “id” (not I think, but it thinks) most probably goes back to Nietzsche. In the literature of Romanticism human beings were controlled by passions and were not in control of themselves (see the novel Lucinde by Friedrich von Schlegel). The relationship to the “occult” was close, for example, in Justinus Kerner. Questions of religiosity and of the fundamental guilt of human beings were likewise predominant. All of this was normal in the thoughts, feelings, and actions of human beings in all social classes.

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