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Rathbun, C. (1934). On certain Similarities between Spinoza and Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 21(1):1-14.

(1934). Psychoanalytic Review, 21(1):1-14

Original Articles

On certain Similarities between Spinoza and Psychoanalysis

Constance Rathbun

That there should exist such a state of apathetic indifference, if not antipathy, between philosophy and psychoanalysis is scarcely to the credit of either. Admittedly the scope, the methods, and the goals of each differ widely, yet such a difference does not thereby eliminate the possibility of every other relationship and guarantee to the adherents of each the right of complete ignorance concerning the activities of the other. Psychoanalysis both as theory and as technique necessarily presupposes implicitly some philosophical basis, and philosophy could well profit by the insight into complexities of the human individual offered by psychoanalysis without thereby losing its value as the progressive differentiation of concepts. This paper, however, is not intended as an indictment of the deplorable lack of understanding between philosophers and analysts but rather as a suggestion of certain similarities between Spinoza's philosophy, with special reference to his consideration of emotions, and the fundamental concepts accepted by psychoanalysis in its study of the unconscious and implied in its treatment of personality disorders and nervous illnesses.

In all the rather extensive literature concerned with the writings of Spinoza there is very little reference to this relationship. Although I have not gone over all the commentaries on Spinoza, in those perused there was only one reference, that of Bernard Alexander on “Spinoza und die Psychoanalysis” in Vol. V of the Chronicon Spinozanum. As to the same lack in the multiplicity of writings about psychoanalysis, I take B.

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