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Paul, R.A. (2016). Response to Jorge L. Ahumada. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(3):865-869.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(3):865-869

Response to Jorge L. Ahumada Related Papers

Robert A. Paul

In his answer to the question of whether psychoanalytic theory and practice are determined by socio-cultural factors, Jorge Ahumada (2016, p. 883) asserts that “human beings are historical, and so is the psyche and its pathologies: therefore psychoanalytic thinking, issued from the neuroses, must change as its object of study changes” (citation; emphasis in original). He goes on to say that the patient population analysts now regularly see does not want or indeed tolerate four or five times a week treatment on the couch. Many, if not most, of them don't present with the classical neuroses for which analysis was first invented, but rather with what he terms ‘autistoid’ syndromes, in which they seem cut off from self and others, and feel unreal. They are not seeking understanding, nor do they want to work on their own thoughts and feelings, from which, on the contrary, they try to keep a distance; they just want to feel more ‘real’. Ahumada goes on in his very intriguing paper to link this historical shift in the minds of typical patients, and the concomitant changes in analytic theory and technique required to address them usefully, to certain socio-cultural developments that occurred over the last century, most especially the rise of new media and the replacement of a literary focus by a visual one presented in short ‘bites’ - a format in which deep thought and subtle understanding are neither fully achievable nor valorized.

Obviously it is not possible to give a complete cultural history of the contemporary era within the compass of his short essay, and assertions and anecdotes must stand in for more nuanced and detailed exposition; granting that, it seems that Ahumada has given an accurate and convincing account of salient aspects of the current psyche and of the Zeitgeist within which it takes shape.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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