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Summers, F. (2011). Psychoanalysis: Romantic, Not Wild. Psychoanal. Psychol., 28(1):13-32.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 28(1):13-32

Psychoanalysis: Romantic, Not Wild

Frank Summers, Ph.D.

The thesis of this article is that a decisive shift has occurred in analytic aim from dynamic and form “normativity,” or preconceived psychic outcome, to an open-ended process, the result of which is not foreseen. This shift in analytic theory and technique is related to the transformation in the humanities in the early 19th century from neoclassicism to the Romantic Movement. In opposition to the neoclassical ideal for art and life as the Greek and Roman forms, the romantic theorists and poets found such a preconceived ideal as stifling of human potential, passion, and creativity. Analogously, psychoanalysis has moved from a theory aiming at a preconceived outcome defined as psychic structure to an open-ended view that defines the process by a method of inquiry for the realization of latent and inhibited psychic capacities. Just as the Romantics saw the highest good as Bildung, or the actualization of self potential, so the focus of contemporary psychoanalysis is on the realization of the uniqueness of the self rather than the establishment of a given psychic form. This interpretation of analysis is contrasted to “wild analysis,” which is atypically characterized as the imposition of psychic form on the analytic process. The proposed concept of analysis as an analogue of the Romantic interpretation of the human condition has specific technical implications focusing on the creation of new ways of being and relating. A clinical case is presented to show the concrete implications of this Romantic view of analysis.

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