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Ekstein, R. (1949). “Ideological Warfare in the Psychological Sciences”. Psychoanal. Rev., 36(2):144-151.

(1949). Psychoanalytic Review, 36(2):144-151

“Ideological Warfare in the Psychological Sciences”

Rudolf Ekstein, Ph.D.

What is an ideology? Is there “ideological warfare” in psychology? If so, what can we say about it that would lead toward better psychological viewpoints?

Ideology, we suggest, is a conceptual frame of reference adhered to and applied dogmatically. It is particularly obvious that we deal with an ideology whenever we see a conceptual frame of reference applied beyond its realm of relevance. The author has tried to throw some light on certain psychological aspects of (political) ideologies.

An ideology is for the most part a rather strange mixture of scientific and everyday statements (some of them true, some of them false) of philosophical generalizations and principles, of orders, moral principles, expressions of decisions and faith. Many people overlook the fact that ideologies cannot be regarded as scientific theories (false or otherwise). The latter are of a different logical nature, so to speak. It is possible to prove or refute a scientific theory…. This, however, is different in so far as ideologies are concerned. Scientific theory requires “proof based on evidence”, and ideologies express not only what can be checked, refuted, or accepted as true, but also feelings, moods, likes, dislikes, preferences, and the nucleus of the ideological weave structure consists of certain basic tenets which cannot be proved or refuted, but are “believed” like a religious creed, a dogma. (1)

A dogma, by definition then, is the type of statement that cannot be checked. Dogmas give psychological security and we hold on to them even at the expense of having to give up our ordinary habits of criticism and checking. The dogmatic basic tenets of an ideology are invulnerable even to sound suspicion.

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