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Wolstein, B. (1968). Determinism and Freedom in Psychoanalysis: Awareness and Responsibility. Am. J. Psychoanal., 28(1):65-68.

(1968). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 28(1):65-68

Determinism and Freedom in Psychoanalysis: Awareness and Responsibility Related Papers

Benjamin Wolstein, Ph.D.

Freedom and determinism, at the present time, are critical metaphors of all psychological therapy. This order of interpretative metaphors is, of course, as necessary to the structure of psychoanalysis as its empirical and systematic orders of inquiry. Even though they are metaphors, however, they are none the less necessary to the clinical study of human experience—whether it is done according to the instinct theories of classical Freudianism all the way to the Christian love of daseinanalysis. To put the difference briefly, freedom supports and is supported by activity psychology and by self-expansion theories of personality in which men are drawn to satisfy needs, secure goals and fulfill ideals. Determinism, on the other hand, supports and is supported by mirror psychology and by energy-reduction theories of personality in which men are driven by needs, goals and ideals that press for satisfaction, security and fulfillment. Of the two, I think freedom is the superior guiding principle of psychoanalytic metapsychology,1 if only because it is far better aligned with the central values of science, humanism and democracy—with those especially, of truth, individuality and self-development. It is possible, of course, to defend the values of authoritarianism in science, absolutism in culture and totalitarianism in society yet, at the same time, also uphold the empirical and systematic requirements of psychoanalysis. In one respect, it is clear, these requirements are the same for all sciences: personal and social values of their practitioners are to be distinguished from both reliability of empirical procedures and validity of systematic results.

Therefore, I intend to sketch first a brief outline of psychoanalytic structure to demarcate these empirical and systematic requirements from such interpretive metaphors as freedom and determinism and, second, certain of their relationships to suggest where, in the actual experience of therapy, the psychoanalyst's values end and the patient's begin.

Psychoanalysis may be conceived as organized inquiry into the direct experience of relatedness and communication.

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