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Slater, R. (1961). Discussions. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):239-241.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):239-241


Ralph Slater, M.D.

I am very pleased that I had the opportunity to read and study, in advance, the four papers presented here this morning. I found them to be, without exception, interesting and stimulating. All of them deal with the subject of alienation and therapy; nevertheless, they differ quite remarkably from each other. The papers by Dr. Weiss and Dr. Eckardt are clinical presentations, as I—and I think, as most of us—understand the term. They have to do with our daily work with patients, and use language which is familiar to all of us to describe the therapeutic process. Dr. Kelman's paper is more wide-ranging and more concentrated than the others. By contrast, Dr. Wenkart's presentation is more literary. Her paper is written in a poetic style, with quotations from Rilke and allusions to the off-Broadway theater, and it abounds in metaphors. She expresses herself in a highly individual, original and imaginative way, and does not use the language customarily employed by psychiatrists and analysts when they try to convey their ideas to their fellows.

First, some words about Dr. Eckardt's paper, beginning with a comment that is also a question. I wonder about Dr. Eckardt's aversion to the idea that alienation is pathology. To my mind, alienation is definitely a pathological phenomenon, perhaps the pathological phenomenon of our time. In her paper, Dr. Eckardt gives an excellent description of the predominantly detached personality. I prefer to call such personalities resigned—using Horney's term—because they are people who have resigned from active living, active struggling, active striving, active wanting.

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