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Rycroft, C.F. (1952). The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 20, 1951; No. 2: Charles Kligerman. 'The Character of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:505.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 20, 1951; No. 2: Charles Kligerman. 'The Character of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.'

(1952). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 33:505

The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 20, 1951; No. 2: Charles Kligerman. 'The Character of Jean-Jacques Rousseau.'

Charles F. Rycroft

Rousseau's character is discussed with special reference to its masochistic and paranoid features. His conscious wishes to be beaten by a woman are traced back to his feminine attitude towards his father and his hostility towards his elder brother. The beating he received from Mademoiselle Lambercier when he was eight, to which Laforgue attached traumatic significance, marked the transition from the second phase ('I am being beaten (loved) by my father') to the third ('I am being beaten by a woman') of the process described by Freud in 'A Child is Being Beaten'. The first, sadistic phase ('My father is beating the child (brother) whom I hate') was repressed, and replaced by reactive solicitude and latent homosexuality.

The celebrated 'oak tree incident', when at the age of thirty-seven Rousseau had the sudden inspiration 'that man is naturally good and that it is through institutions alone that men have become wicked', is interpreted as having been due to circumstances, notably the imprisonment of his friend Diderot, which so threatened his masochistic defences that they were replaced by a paranoid system in which his hostile impulses were denied and projected on to the social order. It was asserted that man is naturally good, i.e. free from aggression.

One of the reasons why Rousseau did not become frankly psychotic was that his own personal conflicts corresponded in many ways with the conflicts of eighteenth-century society between absolute monarchy and the bourgeoisie with its ideology of equality. The fact that in Rousseau's Weltanschauung the idea of equality was based on a denial of instinct—his Natural Man neither standing in need of his fellow creatures nor having any desire to hurt them—has contributed to the psychological unsoundness of Western Liberalism and the instability of democratic political systems.

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Article Citation [Who Cited This?]

Rycroft, C.F. (1952). The Psychoanalytic Quarterly 20, 1951; No. 2. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:505

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