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Bornstein, M. (2017). Epilogue: Evolution Part II: The Understated Significance of Altruism and Cooperation. Psychoanal. Inq., 37(7):503.

(2017). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 37(7):503


Epilogue: Evolution Part II: The Understated Significance of Altruism and Cooperation

Melvin Bornstein, M.D.

Many years ago, one of my most revered teachers told me that being an analyst is not for the faint of heart because of their guilt for inflicting pain on their patients as they expose them to their dreaded primitive aggression. Little wonder analysts are shunned and have such difficulties in their own organizations.

This is certainly not the conclusion from reading the articles in this issue. If there is difficulty in conducting an analysis, it is the challenge of undoing the barriers against altruism that were created because, in the past, living was too hard to bear. In conducting analysis, the principle motivation that I have seen in patients is a powerful desire, which includes altruism, to decrease suffering, promote connection with others, live creatively with vitality and joy.

Without sufficient emphasis on the presence of altruism in clinical work, a barrier emerges against feelings of being alive, spontaneous, and participating in a flow of experiences between analyst and patient leaving stiffness and artificiality. We lose a means to describe living experiences.

Also without a means to describe analysis in terms of two involved human beings, I believe that this deficiency contributes to problems within psychoanalytic organizations, but, more importantly, communication of the enormous value of psychoanalytic ideas for the improvement of community life.

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