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Galdston, I. (1964). An Existential Clinical Exposition of the Ontogenic Thrust. Am. J. Psychoanal., 24(2):210-215.

(1964). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 24(2):210-215

An Existential Clinical Exposition of the Ontogenic Thrust

Iago Galdston, M.D.

Existential Psychiatry though distinctive does not involve any special techniques. Its singularity lies in its bio-psychological orientation, captioned as ontological.

Existential psychiatry is both protagoand antagonistic. Its impulsion is to break down conceptual barriers, to complement and enlarge, and thereby to deepen understanding of the dynamics of becoming and of being.

The language of existential psychiatry is novel and difficult to comprehend. It is difficult to concretize its terminology and to relate it to the already known. Existential terminology is seemingly more suggestive than informing. Yet it needs to be affirmed that he who earnestly desires to understand existential psychiatry must be both enterprising and patient. He must be willing and ready to tolerate the use of old terms for the conveyance of new meanings, in order to acquire new concepts and deeper understanding.

However, despite its difficult terminology, existential psychiatry is not really difficult to comprehend. Requisite is a reference framework and this can best be gained in a review of the historic growth of modern psychiatry. Here, perforce, the review offered must be very brief, indeed almost skeletal.

Modern psychiatry was in its initial stages predominantly organic. The etiology and the treatment of mental illness was envisaged in terms of the physical constitution of the patient, and of its variances from the so-called “normal state and function.” This solid persuasion, dominant for more than a century, was breached by Freud.

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