This is a sincere tribute to the life and work of the late Ernst Simmel, to the purity of his convictions, the single-mindedness of his pursuits, and the ingenuity of his psychoanalytic research. Simmel's freudianism was indeed 'orthodox' in the sense of a mastery of the fundamentals, critical in the sense of an ability to abstract independently from its own observations, and thus contributory to 'an indispensable methodology in practically all the fields in which psychology must play a role'. Freud's Weltanschauung, in which 'scientific research looks on the whole of human activity as its own', was indeed also Simmel's. Horkheimer says that Simmel had hoped to found a 'Freud Institute' in Los Angeles, devoted to the teaching of psychoanalysis as a whole rather than as a supplement to medical or psychiatric training.
On other points Horkheimer is clearly in error. The modification of Freud's instinct hypothesis, attempted by Simmel, can be opposed to corresponding views held by Freud himself; it cannot properly be opposed to 'the fashionable adaptation of psychoanalysis to the wants and needs of to-day's organized mass culture'. Also if Simmel diagnosed 'racial and antiminority prejudice' as a 'mass delusion by pointing out that race hatred is essentially closer to psychosis and to paranoia in particular than to neurosis', a 'large-scale mass catharsis' is certainly not an 'effective antidote' for it because a delusion is not removable and paranoia not curable by catharsis. Finally, Horkheimer expects analysis, in its capacity of a 'science as a philosophical force', to 'do away with metaphysical illusions such as prejudices and superstitions' and to 'carry over the basic concepts of rationality: truth, freedom and justice'. Of this triad only the first member appears pertinent to the reviewer, who must, however, confess to his ignorance of the nature of a 'philosophical force'. Scientific hypotheses—no less metaphysical than others—are instrumental merely in establishing truths. The hypothesis of the superego, for instance, while explaining deity, does not either validate or invalidate that deity's commandments; and if the analyst, as Ernst Simmel has done, interprets 'incendiarism' to the judge, it must still be determined what service, if any, he has thereby rendered to justice.
- 607 -
Fliess, R. (1950). International Journal of Psychoanalysis. XXIX, 1948. Psychoanal. Q., 19:607