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Brenman, E. (1985). Cruelty and Narrowmindedness. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 66:273-281.

(1985). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 66:273-281

Cruelty and Narrowmindedness

Eric Brenman


The contention of this paper is that human understanding modifies cruelty, and that in order that cruelty can remain unmodified various mechanisms are employed. The most important processes include the worship of omnipotence which is felt to be superior to human love and forgiveness, the clinging to omnipotence as a defence against depression, and the sanctification of grievance and revenge. In order to avoid conscious guilt, the perceptions of the mind are narrowed to give ostensible justification to the cruelty, and the obviation of redeeming features in the object.

The paper explores how these processes operate and how by virtue of projection the analyst's interpretations are perceived as cruel, and how the patient arranges to be locked in this vicious circle.

Technical problems of dealing with these forces are explored together with the task of bringing alive the human concern that modifies cruelty.

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