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Jensen, R. Paikin, H. (1980). On Psychoanalysis in Denmark. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 3(2):103-116.

(1980). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 3(2):103-116

On Psychoanalysis in Denmark

Reimer Jensen, Prof. and Henning Paikin, M.D.

It appears to have taken a long time for the psychoanalytic movement to reach Denmark, or at least to influence people so that their thinking was marked in such a way that traces could be found and identified later.

The first reactions to psychoanalysis, at least from the academic world, seem to have been negative. The professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen, Alfred Lehmann, refers to Freud's theory of dream in his book “Superstition and witchcraft” (2nd edition 1920) in this way:

“Freud's theory of dream and the method of interpretation of dreams stemming from the theory [is something] I don't want to consider, as it is opposed to everything which we know about dreams in normal people.”

“This superstition of modern origin is believed only by a small but - it must be admitted - a fanatical brotherhood, and therefore it has no real importance.”

The professor of psychiatry at Copenhagen University, Hjalmar Helweg, asked much later - on the 100th anniversary of Freud's birth, 1956 - the following: Why was Denmark bypassed by the influence of Freud? Looking back, he answers the question in this way:

Psychoanalysis as Freud shaped it was a psychological method of the greatest interest. It could disclose knowledge which had been kept in darkness. But as a scientific method it was invalid, almost impossible to control, and to a large degree subjectively determined. It was difficult for scientifically trained people to accept the theory as a whole, but they picked from the theory what ever they found useful and confirmed by repeated observations. The psychoanalyst's interpretations of phenomena and dreams often seems to be too fantastic.”

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