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Allen Gilbert, J. (1925). The Battle of Opposites. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(2):191-204.

(1925). Psychoanalytic Review, 12(2):191-204

The Battle of Opposites

J. Allen Gilbert, Ph.D., M.D.

All analysis is self-analysis. Psychoanalysis is no exception. It requires the active participation of the individual in a synthetic process if permanent benefit is to ensue. Unless it can rid itself of certain fundamental errors which militate against this general idea, psychoanalysis is doomed to a one-sided development which will condemn it to a closed circle and exclude it from the galaxy of sciences which are rather averse to granting it full membership.

If the paradox may be pardoned temporarily, an analysis is always a synthesis. Personal initiative is a necessary element in the reduction and reconstruction of what has been allowed to lapse into an incoördinate and inharmonious jumble. It is refreshing to encounter such articles as that of Bjerre in which he reminds us that an analysis should always be followed by a synthesis. The fact is that the two must run pari passu. They are synchronous and synonymous and are but opposite phases or interpretations of one process.

The development of psychoanalysis reminds one most vividly of the experiences of “experimental psychology” in the early nineties. Stimulated by the discovery of reaction time, enthusiasm knew no bounds. The dark room with its padded walls, forced ventilation and attempted exclusion of “all” external stimuli gave promise of catching the “psychic state” in its ultimate purity. Apparatus of extreme delicacy was devised to form the bridge for this boiled-down psychic essence to escape from its enforced isolation back into the external world of “science” without any—or, at least, with a minimum of contamination with the influences of the “objective.” We were given assurance that it was only a matter of time when the workings of the “mind” would be tabulated and classified with an accuracy equivalent to that of the objective sciences.

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