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Friedmann, H. (1934). The Instinctive Emotional Life of Birds. Psychoanal. Rev., 21(3):241-271.

(1934). Psychoanalytic Review, 21(3):241-271

Original Articles

The Instinctive Emotional Life of Birds

Herbert Friedmann, Ph.D.


The subject I am to discuss is one that I approach with hesitation and misgivings. Not only are the available data meager in quantity and rather unsatisfactory in quality, but the whole field of animal psychology is fraught with pitfalls for the unwary trespasser. There is no need for me to tell an audience of psychiatrists and psychoanalysts how difficult it is to penetrate and understand the psychic, emotional life of another fellow human. Yet, compared with a creature as inarticulate to human ears as a bird, the most involved human cases would seem more readily approachable. Furthermore, in dealing with humans we have a basis of insight because of our own similarities as fellow men, but when we come to birds, we must be on our guard against those very same intuitive guides and explanations that help so much in understanding human cases. A partial compensation for this drawback is the greater ease of maintaining a purely objective viewpoint with avian material.

Still another consideration must be kept in mind.

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