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Alger, I. (1982). Editorial. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 10(3):329-336.

(1982). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 10(3):329-336


Ian Alger, M.D.

Psychotherapy, Individual Freedom, and Political Activity

The same process that we describe in psychotherapy takes place in the larger realms of our communities, our nations, the world, and the universe itself. I refer to the process of the expansion or heightening of awareness, the development of consciousness or the raising of consciousness, the development of a more inclusive comprehension. Freud spoke of the curative process as being related to making the unconscious conscious. Sullivan elaborated the importance of greater awareness of interpersonal process. But this expansion of consciousness is not restricted to intrapsychic process or to interpersonal relationships. It also has been manifested through the work of biologists, biochemists and biogeneticists who, in the microcosm of our existence, have found the connecting linkages between the very molecular structure of our being and the intricate complexities of our lives as human system organisms within the larger and interacting systems of the universe.

Man's conception of the world has altered as his ability to gather more data and develop newer perspectives has increased. Within the century we have seen the incredible shift from centuries of Aristotelian thinking based on an elementarism towards holistic concepts involving field theory, the development of general systems theory, and the contributions of cybernetics. These expanded awarenesses in science have led to the realization that the essential characteristics of subatomic particles cannot be studied at the same time as movement behavior is studied. Similar understandings in the fields of social science and mental health have led to the realization that individuals cannot be understood in isolation from their context. An outcome of this new scientific and social learning has been the increased importance of, and interest in, the field of social psychiatry, and within the therapeutic area of psychiatry a burgeoning interest in the study of families and the development of family therapy.

Old ideas, however, do not disappear readily and the habit of centuries of attempting to provide linear explanations of cause and effect still remain.

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