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Greenson, R.R. (1969). The Origin and Fate of New Ideas in Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:503-515.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:503-515

The Origin and Fate of New Ideas in Psychoanalysis

Ralph R. Greenson

In the first issue of the International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Freud (1917a) contributed a paper, 'A Difficulty in the Path of Psychoanalysis', which I believe is particularly relevant today in understanding the developments in psychoanalysis in the last 50 years. In that essay Freud attempted to demonstrate how psychoanalysis, like other scientific research, has alienated most men by hurting their narcissism, their self-love. He described the three most hurtful blows to human narcissism as follows:

In the early stages of his researches, man believed at first that his dwelling-place, the earth, was the stationary centre of the universe, with the sun, moon and planets circling round it. In this he was naively following the dictates of his sense-perceptions, for he felt no movement of the earth, and wherever he has an unimpeded view he found himself in the centre of a circle that enclosed the external world. The central position of the earth, moreover, was a token to him of the dominating part played by it in the universe and appeared to fit in very well with his inclination to regard himself as lord of the world.

Copernicus and his forerunners put an end to this illusion and proved the earth was much smaller than the sun and moved around that celestial body. That was the cosmological blow to man's narcissism.

Freud then went on to define the second narcissistic wound, the biological one:

We all know that little more than half a century ago the researches of Charles Darwin and his collaborators and forerunners put an end to this presumption on the part of man.

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