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DeRosis, L.E. (1961). Alienation and Group Psychoanalysis. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(2):263-272.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(2):263-272

Alienation and Group Psychoanalysis

Louis E. DeRosis, M.D.

If We Want to give meaning to the phrase, “self-alienation,” we must posit the existence of a process from which the self-identifying self feels its own separation, or its alienation. In so doing, we describe a self capable of recognizing or sensing, if only remotely, that it is missing some vital connection to its own existence. The necessity for making this connection is so essential that the self undertakes the task continuously. The implication is clear. If an individual has the awareness that he is missing something, then that something has existence. But the connections to it elude his grasp.

Another approach to the question of alienation may also be postulated. That is the approach of the beholder who makes the observation that the other is “alienated.” The person who is thus beheld may have no such awareness, and would have no way of appreciating such a reference to him. I believe that every patient who comes to us for treatment does so out of a sense of distress, engendered by those processes affecting his feeling of disconnectedness from a sense of being, which springs from his “real self.” This sense of being is something for which he hungers with indescribable intensity.

The term “real self” was used by Karen Horney. It was not intended to connote a static structure as the phrase would seem to imply. She intended it, rather, to denote the principle of human existence which contains all the essentials of being, including such capacities as spontaneity, courageousness, wholeheartedness, self-determination, self-direction, and so forth.

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