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Kubie, L.S. (1954). The Fundamental Nature of the Distinction Between Normality and Neurosis. Psychoanal Q., 23:167-204.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:167-204

The Fundamental Nature of the Distinction Between Normality and Neurosis

Lawrence S. Kubie, M.D.


The present paper offers a hypothesis concerning the essential difference between normal and neurotic psychological processes. I have made several previous attempts to present this hypothesis, but unfortunately these earlier formulations have contained ambiguities which caused the hypothesis to be misunderstood. I have, however, profited from the resulting discussion and correspondence with my colleagues, and I hope that the hypothesis has similarly benefited. I therefore begin by acknowledging my indebtedness to colleagues upon whose kindness I have imposed with reprints, manuscripts, and lengthy letters, and whose friendly, challenging, and sceptical comments have been invaluable. Among these are Frank Beach, John Benjamin, Margaret Brenman, Merton Gill, Molly R. Harrower, Heinz Hartmann, Robert Knight, Ernst Kris, Bertram D. Lewin, Rudolph Loewenstein, Sydney Margolin, David Rapaport, Fredrick C. Redlich, and René Spitz. There are others, of course, but these are the ones I have pestered with least mercy, and who have been endlessly patient in giving me the benefit of their criticisms. I cannot ask them to share responsibility for any of my suggestions, but certainly they have contributed greatly to any value the hypothesis may have.


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