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Bouchard, M. (1996). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis. I, Number 2, 1993. Ideology and Psychoanalysis. Charles Hanly. Pp. 1-17.. Psychoanal Q., 65:671.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 65:671

Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis. I, Number 2, 1993. Ideology and Psychoanalysis. Charles Hanly. Pp. 1-17.

Review by:
Marc-André Bouchard

Ideologies have a remarkable capacity for working powerful transformations in the lives of individuals, as well as for uniting individuals into organized collectivities. Ideologies find or create enemies. They are characterized by a dangerous polarity: they sustain a high level of beneficent mutual support, and at the same time an equal and opposite self-righteous hostility toward those who do not share it. Freud (1921) hypothesized that a group is formed out of two identifications: an idealizing identification with a leader, and an identification, based on similarity, with others who have adopted the same leader as their ego ideal.

Psychoanalysis is a body of empirical knowledge subject to continuous clinical testing by observations and interpretations based on the evenly suspended attention of analysts to the free associations of the analysands. Yet psychoanalysis cannot be immunized against transformation into an ideology. The failure of the training analysis to work through the idealizing transference and the identification with the analyst leaves behind in the new generation of analysts a predisposition to transform psychoanalysis into an ideology. Theoretical ideas and technical rules that require continuous testing and re-evaluation are treated as canonical. Analysts become enthusiasts, zealots, and ciphers instead of adventurous observers and empirical thinkers, and the “correct” psychoanalytic texts become quasi-sacred. But, since hostility underlies idealization, the zealous adherent easily collapses into the repudiating critic if the reaction formation that sustains the idealization should succumb to disappointment.

Wise people who have cared about individual freedom have long been aware of the vulnerability of men and women to alienating their own freedom. A state's democratic institutions can no more protect its citizens from extremes of political folly than psychoanalysis as a body of knowledge can protect itself from analysts who would make it, in whole or in part, into an ideology.

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