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Prior to searching a specific psychoanalytic concept, you may first want to review The Language of Psycho-Analysis written by Laplanche & Pontalis. You can access it directly by clicking here.

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Kubie, L.S. (1962). The Fallacious Misuse of the Concept of Sublimation. Psychoanal Q., 31:73-79.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:73-79

The Fallacious Misuse of the Concept of Sublimation

Lawrence S. Kubie, M.D.

The forms in which any unconscious, neurotogenic conflict are consistently expressed have profound repercussive effects on the life of an individual, on the lives of his family and associates, and ultimately upon society. One form of such expression is sometimes referred to as sublimation: yet the validity of a concept of sublimation does not follow from this fact. This depends upon the answer to a more searching question: does the form of expression alter the neurotogenic, unconscious conflicts and the unconscious ingredients among the sustaining processes? It is to this question that this paper is addressed.

Any scientific discipline which depends on words is at the mercy of words, but words cannot be rendered accurate by definition alone. This difficulty plagues all psychological disciplines, but it is one of the major obstacles to the clarification of psychoanalytic concepts.

Because of the essential nature of human behavior, every psychoanalytic concept embodies an attempt to look in three directions at once. It looks inward and backward toward the forces which initiated the behavior and imposed on it its first pattern. It looks outward and forward-in-time to the social impact of behavior on external situations in life. At the same time, it includes the reverberating feedback from the external effects of behavior to the constellation of forces which originally initiated and which continuously sustain it and reshape it. It is not easy to capture three frames of reference in a single word, and much needless controversy results.


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