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Sterba, R.F. (1969). The Psychoanalyst in a World of Change. Psychoanal Q., 38:432-454.

(1969). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 38:432-454

The Psychoanalyst in a World of Change

Richard F. Sterba, M.D.

The invitation to give this lecture might well be considered the height of a psychoanalyst's career, which in my case began forty-five years ago and extended from the late phase of the psychoanalytic movement in the early twenties to the present period of organized psychoanalysis. Having reached this culmination of development as a psychoanalyst and having participated in four-and-a-half decades of psychoanalytic history, I may be in a position to review the vicissitude of the basic philosophy of our science and its correlation with the changes in the human situation of our Western world. I think I may justifiably call your attention to this subject, for the adaptation of the psychoanalyst and his therapeutic endeavors to these changes—or the lack of such adaptation—is beginning to occupy the minds of many of us.

Eleven years ago in a paper, The Therapeutic Goal and Present-Day Reality (14), I pointed out that the gigantic changes in our cultural situation, and the adaptations and modifications of the ego they entail, demand from analysts a change in the evaluation of the egos of our patients, a change also in our therapeutic approach, and ultimately a change in our therapeutic goal. I shall not yield to temptation and repeat my impressions of the impact of modern cultural change on psychoanalytic therapy, expressed in my previous paper. They have been amply confirmed by further observations. Rather, I should like to discuss the impact made by the scientific, technical, and industrial development of the last six decades upon the foundations of our science and upon its present-day position.


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