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Israel, M. (2006). Theodor Reik: On Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious Compulsion to Confess. Psychoanal. Psychol., 23(4):728-737.

(2006). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 23(4):728-737

Theodor Reik: On Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious Compulsion to Confess

Morton Israel, ED.D.

In 1924, Theodor Reik presented a series of lectures in Vienna, which resulted in the publication of the book, The Compulsion to Confess (1925/1959). It was Reik's claim that his conceptualization of the unconscious compulsion to confess was a “discovery” and suggested that it be incorporated in the theory and lexicon of classical psychoanalytic theory. It is from the socialization experiences of the child (the modification of instinctual impulses) that repression is experienced and thus the process of confession is an attempt to quell (unconsciously) feelings of guilt and need for self-punishment. The power of a hostile superego plays the pivotal role, according to Reik, in the development of the neurosis, and it is within the framework and dynamics of the Oedipal complex that unconscious confessions result.

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