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Jekels, L. (1941). Psycho-Analysis and Dialectic. Psychoanal. Rev., 28(2):228-253.

(1941). Psychoanalytic Review, 28(2):228-253

Psycho-Analysis and Dialectic

Ludwig Jekels, M.D.

(On the occasion of discussing Karin Horney's New Ways in Psycho-Analysis)

In order to avoid misunderstanding I wish to emphasize, that I do not desire to make a polemic against Dr. Horney's New Ways in Psycho-Analysis the main subject of this lecture. This polemic should rather be a transition to a much more important topic, namely the discussion of the relationship between psychoanalysis and dialectic. Moreover I intend to use this argument against Horney to illustrate some methodological problems, which I shall discuss later. But may I state first, that for this task of polemic I feel especially qualified and authorized for the following research: As everyone who is familiar with Horney's book may recall, the fundamental theorems and discoveries of Freud are considered erroneous by the author. The very frame-work of Freud's teachings, the theory of instincts and of libido, the concept of the Oedipus-complex, of narcissism, of feminine psychology and the repetition compulsion, all of these are rejected by Horney. In Horney's opinion all of Freud's interpretations and the conclusions derived from them, are actually nonexistent or permit of some other explanation. That Freud could have seen these things as he described them, says Horney, is merely the result of Freud's mode of thinking which she evidently finds inadequate to the phenomena in question. For Freud's mode of thinking, Horney holds “the spirit of his times” responsible which having been overtaken by further developments makes all these discoveries appear “rather as an historical burden which psychoanalysis carries than as its pivotal centre” (p. 17) so “that we should cut loose from certain historically determined … premises and discard the theories arising on that basis” (p. 8). With these words Dr. Horney indicts the spirit of the Freudian era.

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