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Podolsky, E. (1941). Psychoanalytical Views of Intelligence. Psychoanal. Rev., 28(3):359-362.

(1941). Psychoanalytic Review, 28(3):359-362

Psychoanalytical Views of Intelligence

Edward Podolsky, M.D.

When one deals with a subject so wide in its ramifications as intelligence there are many definitions and conceptions that must be taken into consideration. Even at this date it is not an easy matter to define intelligence in terms satisfactory to everyone.

The brain anatomist, the brain physiologist and the psychologist each has his own ideas as to what constitutes intelligence. The views of the psychoanalyst are also of extreme interest and importance. The psychoanalyst is not primarily concerned with brain patterns or electrical manifestations when defining intelligence. It is his belief that the source of intelligence is not established; it has its basis in the dynamic forces which psychoanalysis has already established in the personality.

The psychoanalyst regards intelligence not only as a capacity, something possessed in varying degrees, but also as a function, an activity requiring energy. Intellectual capacity is a part of the ego's endowment, probably largely hereditary. But the motive power for mental activity appears to arise out of the energy which the instincts supply.

The most simple terms that the psychoanalyst uses to define intelligence are these: intelligence is the capacity for acquiring, absorbing and using knowledge of reality. This process implies that the individual takes in and makes a part of himself the abilities, mannerisms and understandings which enable him to get along with his fellow creatures. Thus, his power to grasp conceptions and his ability to apply what he has learned, would be indications of his intelligence.

After he has learned something, the individual possesses something which he did not have previously. The ego has made an acquisition. An abstract something has been incorporated with the self, the ego. The ego has gained increased power for mastering the environment.

In the process of learning the individual has perceived some part of the external world which attracted him.

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