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Lussheimer, P. (1951). The Family. Am. J. Psychoanal., 11(1):55-57.

(1951). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 11(1):55-57

The Family

Paul Lussheimer

We believe that current talk and fear that the family as an institution is doomed to extinction is grossly exaggerated. Our attention is being directed, however, to the threat posed to the health of the family institution by the neurosis of our time. This neurosis is a group ailment starting in one member of the family, and affects all the other individuals in the group just like an infectious disease. Psychoanalysts, aware of the futility of attempts to preserve the family socially and economically unless mental hygiene is also practiced, are increasingly uniting with those educators, clergymen, social workers and public servants in the field of politics, who consider survival of the institution of the family a supreme task.

The psychoanalyst is interested, for a number of reasons, in efforts to protect the family institution from disintegrating. First, he is aware that the family is an indispensable social unit standing between the individual and the larger group-namely, state, nation or world. If the family as an institution were abolished by a law, or some other force, it would be reestablished soon afterwards for the satisfaction of indispensable emotional needs which are far from material in nature. Secondly, the family institution is the most valuable training and testing ground for the individual. It is the medium in which every individual, young or old, finds an opportunity to experience his capacity to live with others and with himself. It is also the medium in which the foundation is laid for security and happiness. Family life is as important for the adult as for the child. Man's growth continues as long as he lives and character formation is a never ending process. Keeping pace with the ever-changing conditions of the world around oneself serves to protect us against the damaging influences of our culture—against the formation of a neurosis.

The family stimulates mobilization of the constructive forces needed for the proper functioning of the individual and of the larger unit in addition to activating anti-destructive forces. By anti-destructive forces we mean all the energy used to combat the frustrations which the structure of a culture imposes upon an individual.

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