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Rubinfine, D.L. (1954). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 23:482-485.

(1954). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 23:482-485

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

David L. Rubinfine

February 9, 1954. WIT AND PARANOIA. Mark Kanzer, M.D.

Beginning with the observation that in at least three different cultures and periods of impending social upheaval, revolution sounded its warning through the appearance of a major humorist, the author suggests that an interplay between paranoid traits in the individual and discontent in the population contribute to the genesis of this phenomenon. Commenting briefly on Cervantes and Voltaire, the major portion of the paper is devoted to a study of Gogol and his role as a harbinger of the Russian Revolution. Kanzer believes Gogol's literary career was an outgrowth of an advanced schizoid process. Evidence is advanced to show that Gogol, a sickly child, was infantilized by an adoring, possessive mother only fifteen years his senior, and that his world was that of the Ukranian peasant, filled with local myths in which a clownlike Devil is the central figure, a merry individual who plays tricks on others and is tricked in return. Upon leaving home Gogol embarked on a series of psychopathic adventures including fraud, lying, and embezzlement of funds from his mother. Kanzer suggests that this behavior was symptomatic of schizophrenia.

It was after he left home that he discovered his genius. At his request his mother had supplied him with 'home atmosphere' by including in her letters local stories, myths, and fairy tales. It occurred to Gogol that he might have literary success with them, and their publication made him famous overnight.

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