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Lowenfeld, H. (1964). Comment on Dr Grunberger's and Dr Wangh's Papers. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:396-398.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:396-398

Comment on Dr Grunberger's and Dr Wangh's Papers

Henry Lowenfeld

The two papers by Drs Grunberger and Wangh deal with such a complex problem that I can only try to single out a few aspects of it for my discussion.

I am in general agreement with the attempt of both authors to use psycho-analytical concepts for a better understanding of historical events. I think we are justified in so doing, as all historians use psychology implicitly, though they usually do not expressly state this fact. Especially, if the irrational element in human actions prevails, common-sense psychology is not adequate.

But there are several reasons which make our task very difficult. The main reason—and this point should not be neglected—is the fact that analytical characterology is still in an immature and undifferentiated state. If, for example, we speak of people of a compulsive character structure, we may find among them saints or criminals. This lack in our characterology makes analytical interpretations of historical events often unconvincing. Another reason for the difficulty is that the material we deal with is usually open to different interpretations on a factual level. And finally, it is of the nature of analytical interpretations, which means interpretations of unconscious processes, that they are often plausible and possibly right, but not necessarily correct. In an individual analysis we reach a degree of verification and conviction, or the interpretation is abandoned. In the interpretation of historical events we do not have the assistance of the patient, history does not respond to our suggestions, and it is difficult to reach certainty.

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