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Brodsky, B. (1967). The Application of Psychoanalytic Method and Theory to Social Problems. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 15:686-694.

(1967). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 15:686-694

The Application of Psychoanalytic Method and Theory to Social Problems

Bernard Brodsky, M.D.

Warner Muensterberger, in his introductory remarks, pointed out that very early in the history of psychoanalysis Freud as well as Abraham were interested in the application of analytic insights to realms beyond the clinical situation. However, it is the more profound insight into special aspects of the ego such as its organizing function and its general adaptive purposes to the affairs of life that has provided the contemporary impetus to psychoanalytic concern with the social sciences. Muensterberger underscored a keynote of the entire discussion, the problem of the correct means of applying the psychoanalytic approach to social problems. He outlined the various links between psychoanalysis and the social sciences and asserted that every clinical case studied by analysis embodied many social and cultural variables. But, he asked, if the psychoanalyst enters the arena of social problems, is he prepared to develop hypotheses and make recommendations? Conversely, when outsiders who may be competent in these other fields employ analytic concepts, they may apply them in a superficial manner and may demonstrate strong resistances to a true understanding of unconscious motivation. The analyst is forced to deal with social problems psychoanalytically. However, if he does not make himself thoroughly acquainted with all the theoretical and technical aspects of the field of investigation, his role may easily deteriorate into that of the humanitarian or "do-gooder" rather than maintain his neutralized scientific goal.

Despite such complications, psychoanalysis does have something special to offer.

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