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Gehrie, M.J. (1978). The Psychoanalytic Study of Social Phenomena: A Review Essay. Ann. Psychoanal., 6:143-164.

(1978). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 6:143-164

The Psychoanalytic Study of Social Phenomena: A Review Essay

Mark J. Gehrie, Ph.D.

The true locus of culture is in the interactions of specific individuals and, on the subjective side, in the world of meanings which each one of these individuals may unconsciously abstract for himself from his participation in these interactions.

—E. Sapir


Since the turn of the century, many anthropologists and psychoanalysts have searched for the contributions that their respective fields could make to an understanding of the psychological dimension of culture. Like psychoanalysis, anthropology is a young discipline which has struggled in the effort to be methodologically scientific, while also remaining a system than is open enough to admit new kinds of data. In both fields disagreement and loosely defined connections between theory and data are the result. Whereas, for example, psychoanalysts often agree on specific clinical issues based in a particular instance, they also find that the same clinical “fact” may support highly variable metapsychological positions.

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