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Matthews, D. (1933). General: M. D. Eder. 'The Myth of Progress.' The British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1932, Vol. XII, p. 1.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 14:399-399.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: General: M. D. Eder. 'The Myth of Progress.' The British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1932, Vol. XII, p. 1.

(1933). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 14:399-399

General: M. D. Eder. 'The Myth of Progress.' The British Journal of Medical Psychology, 1932, Vol. XII, p. 1.

D. Matthews

This paper adds another contribution to Sociology from the pen of a psycho-analyst.

Mankind has always found refuge from his unhappiness in myth creation. The myth is represented as a struggle between man and the forces of obstruction in which man is assured of ultimate victory. The history of civilization is largely the narrative of these myths. The myth of progress states that civilization has moved, is moving, and will move in a desirable direction. Progress is inevitable. The myth in its origin coincides with the gradual decline in the christian belief in heaven and hell. According to the Christian myth man is only saved from damnation by Divine intervention. The great strides recently made in scientific discovery and invention have encouraged man in the belief that the millennium is not far distant. Science has become god. Philosophers, men of science and politicians have accepted the idea of the inevitability of progress. But the hopes built on science are proving as illusory as those built on religion and other myths. Indeed, recent events would seem to indicate that science is making man more unhappy and even threatening his destruction. Many theories and explanations for this state of affairs are forthcoming. The present writer offers one based on psycho-analytic investigation. He says that the genesis of the myth of progress is to be found in the happy delusion of omnipotence of the infant. Mankind unconsciously longs to return to this condition of megalomania. Thwarted by the external world he turns to his imagination to alleviate his unhappiness, the wishes he fulfils there are then projected more or less modified into the external world as political theories and philosophical systems. Further, the omnipotent child can brook no denial of its wishes and frustration can only come from a hostile mother; so the adult sees in the failure of his hopes the hand of a hostile force. He understands no more than the infant does that the hostile force is his own projected aggression. To obtain freedom man must recognize and accept his own unconscious aggressive impulses, he must further realize that these cannot be adequately controlled by repressive measures. Is man capable of the heroic discipline necessary to find and travel the path to freedom?

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Article Citation

Matthews, D. (1933). General. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 14:399-399

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