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Arieti, S. (1961). Discussion. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):261-262.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):261-262


Silvano Arieti, M.D.

The papers by Dr. Sheiner and Dr. Maslow are of such import and can branch off into so many directions as to leave the discussant perplexed as to what to pick up in the few minutes at his disposal.

Perhaps I can mention my intriguing and rewarding sense of surprise at both papers. Why surprise at Dr. Sheiner's paper? I am used to hearing people call alienation a state of remoteness of the human being from his own feelings. And yet the patient, so vividly reported by Dr. Sheiner and described as suffering from severe alienation, is full of intense feelings. To use Dr. Sheiner's own words: “…a volcanic rage lurked within him.” Terrifying anxiety, bewilderment, feelings for nature and beauty, hate, ever-present horror, self-destructiveness, and arrogant vindictiveness have been experienced by this patient. At my first and rather superficial reading of this important paper, I felt there was no remoteness at all from feelings. On the contrary, the feelings were very intense, although inconsistent, and in their inconsistency they were almost a feeling-salad.

At this point I felt almost alienated from Dr. Sheiner's concept of alienation. My surprise became even greater when I read that in order to improve the patient put himself into another form of alienation, into an hypnotic or trance-like state. To quote Dr. Sheiner, “through the maneuver of actively alienating, he plunged into constructiveness and destructiveness.” Paradoxically, this form of alienation put the patient into a state of relatedness with Dr.

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