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Hartmann, H. (1969). Introductory Comments on 'Menschen Kenntnis'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:529-531.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:529-531

Introductory Comments on 'Menschen Kenntnis'

Heinz Hartmann

About the tremendous contributions of Freud and analysis to the knowledge of men there is no doubt. Still, Freud himself did not consider himself a good 'Menschen Kenner'. Ernest Jones and Hanns Sachs agreed that he was right. Kurt Eissler (1965) quotes psychological insights of Freud from pre-analytic times and also shows that in the same years he did strive for Menschen Kenntnis in the usual sense, outside of analysis. Anna Freud (1936) speaks in a sense similar to Freud's, not just about him but about psychoanalysts in general. Many have considered what he thought about his not being a Menschen Kenner just a bon mot. But we should not take things too easily. There is a real problem in what we have just discussed: a problem that we would do better to face.

There are obviously different ways of gaining knowledge of men, and the capacities or capabilities that make one good in one or the other do not coincide. Just as some good psychoanalysts are not good Menschen Kenner, there are also good Menschen Kenner who know nothing about psychoanalysis.

Practical considerations often, but not always, play a great role in Menschen Kenntnis. There may be questions of motivation and of the behaviour we would expect of a human being in a given situation, or his capacities to solve specific problems. In all these aspects psychoanalysis can be helpful, though not in every one to the same degree. Psychoanalysis and Menschen Kenntnis are not strictly separated, but of course there is an essential difference in methods.

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