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Rangell, L. (1973). On the Cacophony of Human Relations. Psychoanal Q., 42:325-348.

(1973). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 42:325-348

On the Cacophony of Human Relations

Leo Rangell, M.D.

A major yield of psychoanalysis, which came about at the beginning quite by serendipity, has always been that the insights it produces can apply not just to the individual patient, but to mankind. It is for that reason that psychoanalysis has been looked to by the intellectual public with such interest, as well as with such ambivalence.

In this paper I will present clinical material and a psychoanalytic line of thought, and relate them to a subject of pressing social concern that I believe is a universal human experience: the disharmony between men. In the world today there is an awareness of the deep divisiveness between men and the difficulty in achieving enduring relations. Despite a yearning for closeness and constancy, which is integral to human striving, alliances are shallow and fleeting, undependable, narcissistically oriented, and, as often as not, run a relentless course toward dissolution of relationships between men and women, husbands and wives, men and men, siblings, even parents and children. Recently a patient lamented for himself and was moved to add, 'For all—the fragility of friendships everywhere'. Whether relationships are more frenetic and uncertain today than ever before, I leave to sociologists and historians to assess, but I suspect that any scholarly survey would reveal that they are merely another undulation in a continuous up-and-down curve. However, there is no denying the present acuteness or depth of the disharmony, nor can there be solace in the probability that it is a perpetual phenomenon.


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