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Alexander, F. (1954). Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:722-733.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:722-733

Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy

Franz Alexander, M.D.

Psychotherapy which is based on the knowledge of the illness is one of the latest developments in medicine; psychotherapy as an emotional support offered to a suffering patient is as old as medicine itself. Everyone who tries to encourage a despondent friend or reassure a panicky child practices psychotherapy. Such psychotherapeutic home remedies are based on the common-sense understanding of human nature. We know intuitively that we can calm down a worrying person by listening patiently to his story. The relief obtained from such an unloading later became known as abreaction in our scientific jargon.

We assume a reassuring, friendly and somewhat authoritative attitude toward a confused, frightened person, knowing from common sense that such a person has the need to lean on someone else. Today we formulate this knowledge by saying that the ego's integrative capacity is lowered under the influence of excessive fear.

Rage also narrows the integrative capacity of the ego and can be relieved by allowing the person to give vent to his feelings. The point which I want to stress is that prescientific knowledge of human nature is a well-developed faculty which every healthy person possesses without any systematic learning. In fact, without it, one could not survive in social life.

Every science consists in the improvement of common-sense knowledge. In physics and chemistry, these improvements were so fundamental that the results not only far surpass the prescientific knowledge of nature but are often directly contradictory to the latter, as is best exemplified by modern cosmology.

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