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Poster, M.F. (1990). Meetings of the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East. Psychoanal Q., 59:343.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:343

Meetings of the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East

Mark F. Poster

DISCUSSION: Dr. Max Day asked whether the 1912 paper by Sabina Spielrein contributed to Freud's theory of aggression. Dr. Gay felt that her paper was a significant contribution, but that neither Freud nor anyone else at the time was receptive to it. Dr. Alexandra K. Rolde stated that mastery has components of intellect and of curiosity which are perhaps distinct from both libidinal and aggressive drive. Dr. Gay associated to Freud's comment to Fliess about the "intellectual beauty" of his book, The Interpretation of Dreams. He noted, however, that beauty is ultimately a result of sexual interest. Dr. Ana-Maria Rizzuto wondered about distinguishing between mastery and aggression. Dr. Gay agreed that this is difficult to do and depends upon one's frame of reference. He cited Voltaire's description of needing to clear the land before being able to build. Dr. Arthur Valenstein traced Freud's theories of aggression and the death instinct to his paper, "On Narcissism," in which he first described a non-libidinal egoism directly connected with self-preservative trends. Dr. Valenstein also shared his recollections of the 1971 Psychoanalytic Congress in Vienna on aggression and his sense that it was influenced by an environmentalist, social democratic philosophy. Dr. Gay agreed about the significance of the narcissism paper in the evolution of Freud's theory of aggression. He added that a desire to be different from Jung and not to be limited by only one drive were also operative in Freud's instinct theory. Dr. Peter Randolph asked whether Dr. Gay had not been overly modest in suggesting that historians had nothing to offer psychoanalysts. Dr. Gay asserted that historians have little to say directly to the clinician, but might be of use in the further development of theory and in the evolution of certain aspects of technique. He agreed with Freud that writing psychohistories of living persons might be using psychoanalysis as a form of aggression. Dr. Axel Hoffer concluded the discussion by asking for Dr. Gay's view, as a historian, on narrative truth, historical truth, and psychic reality. Dr. Gay responded that he recognized psychic reality as a valid concept with therapeutic implications. Nevertheless, along with nineteenth century positivists, he thinks that there is only one, not two, kinds of truth. He sees hermeneutics as modish ad a retreat.

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