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Deutsch, H. (1989). On Satisfaction, Happiness and Ecstasy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 70:715-723.

(1989). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 70:715-723

On Satisfaction, Happiness and Ecstasy

Helene Deutsch


In her 1927 'On satisfaction, happiness and ecstasy' Helene Deutsch took a respectful attitude toward religious phenomena. She was also talking about emotional states that Freud was apt not to want to write about because of his own scepticism concerning them. She even touched with understanding tolerance on the blissfulness of religious communion.

She proceeded from the premise of a universal striving in each individual for psychological unity. She used two case histories to illustrate how both sexual satisfaction and sublimation could involve heightened phases of dejection. She accounted for the sense of ecstasy by the temporarily undisturbed unity between ego and non-ego.

This translation should help counter-act the ahistoric tendency to look on early psychoanalysis only from the perspective of our own preoccupations. In her interest in the 'feeling of happiness' Helene Deutsch was anticipating later thinking which sought to include within psychoanalytic theory the integrative processes that constitute harmony.

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