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Steiner, J. (2020). Learning from Don Quixote. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(1):1-12.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(1):1-12

Psychoanalytic Theory and Technique

Learning from Don Quixote

John Steiner

Cervantes’ great novel is commented on from the point of view of a clinical psychoanalyst. Don Quixote had the noble aim to defend maidens, protect widows and come to the aid of orphans and those in need, in an attempt to restore what he saw as the Golden Age. He was aware that his beliefs were based on illusion but he needed these illusions, which served as a protective shield against reality. What he could not bear was to recognize that the destructiveness not only came from external persecutors, but also arose from within himself. When he was finally defeated he began to recognize that he was loved, and he then no longer had the need to be admired. The psychoanalyst can learn to understand the complexities of the relationship between phantasy and reality, and madness and sanity.

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