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Wallerstein, R.S. Smelser, N.J. (1969). Psychoanalysis and Sociology: Articulations and Applications. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 50:693-710.

(1969). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 50:693-710

Psychoanalysis and Sociology: Articulations and Applications

Robert S. Wallerstein and Neil J. Smelser

In marking its 50th volume with a special anniversary issue, The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis undertook to assemble an array of contributions under the general title 'Psychoanalysis Past and Present', as a way of taking historical note and assessing the present state of the field in its historical perspective. Our contribution is more prospective than retrospective; it marks an essential area of psychoanalytic (and applied psychoanalytic) advance, that our current vigour as an empirical science (of which this anniversary occasion is one of the signs) gives us reason to feel ready to essay. Our starting point is with the simple principle that human life is simultaneously both psychological and social—that both types of forces continuously interpenetrate as they impinge upon human behaviour. We shall try to develop the implications of our view that this principle is both a self-evident truth and, at the same time, a source of the most troublesome dilemmas for the student of behaviour.

A fundamental feature of organized social life is that it structures the expression of individual biological and psychological needs. This structuring has a positive and a negative aspect. On the positive side, social life provides regular opportunities for the gratification of instinctual demands. The institutions of marriage and prostitution are both contrived, in part, to permit and channel sexual gratifications. Tournaments, athletic contests, ritual rebellions (and even war) are contrived, in part, to permit the expression of aggressive impulses.

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