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Martin, A.R. (1961). Self-Alienation and the Loss of Leisure. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):156-165.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):156-165

Alienation and Culture

Self-Alienation and the Loss of Leisure

Alexander Reid Martin, M.D.

The Struggle of contemporary society to adapt successfully to increasing free time has been the subject of two papers I presented during the past year. The first, “Frustrated Aspirations and the Loss of Leisure,” was given at the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York. The second, “Mental Health and the Rediscovery of Leisure,” was read before the annual conference of the World Federation for Mental Health in Edinburgh last August. What I have to say here largely derives from these two addresses and contains nothing essentially new. I have, however, changed the focus and the emphasis and have tried to bring out more explicitly the dynamic relationship between man's incapacity for leisure and self-alienation.

I will begin by presenting my main thesis.

1.   The rapid advance of technology, spearheaded by automation, together with increasing longevity, has given modern man a large measure of his latest and greatest freedom—free time—time to himself. The drastic and sudden nature of this change has caught man psychologically and emotionally unprepared to adapt himself successfully and creatively.

2.   The time and external resources now available for leisure greatly exceed our inner resources and our inner capacity for leisure.

3.   As long as modern man is psychologically and emotionally unprepared for sudden and prolonged liberation from industrial servitude, temporary maladaptation will result.

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