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(1935). Meaning and the Western Way. By Chandler Bennitt. New York: The Hidden Press, 1933. Pp. 245.. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(3):359-360.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Review, 22(3):359-360

Meaning and the Western Way. By Chandler Bennitt. New York: The Hidden Press, 1933. Pp. 245.

This presentation represents a psychological exercise of some complexity. It is an attempt to bring into an understandable approximation many mental phenomena as yet obscure in nature, and the central aspect of the discussion is contained in the author's concept of Meaning. This is a dynamism which bridges the space between the inner realms of the personality and the external world, and it is a variety of Realty. Meaning is not the function of any special faculty but its primary source is located in the unconscious, where it is expressed in the dream activities and also in the fantasy which is “more or less continuous interplay or intermediary between Actuality and Meaning.

The Symbol is vital and active “because it is primarily Meaning and not Actuality.” From the standpoint of Actuality the Symbol is a substitute for something else, but as to its Meaning component, is self-contained and expresses the nuclear basis of life itself. “The intrinsic character of fact is Actuality. Its destiny may be conversion into high Meaning, but in its factual form its Meaning content is negligible. The Symbol is the reverse. Fact is a manifestation of Actuality, Symbol of Meaning. Science having now undertaken to deal with the dynamic content of the Symbol, most clearly disclosed in the psychic realm, cannot do so in any thorough way without recognizing the nature of its true Reality….” If the Symbol is ever to be adequately understood as a function, psychology must adopt the concept of Meaning, as the part of life lived by Symbols is just as real as that part lived by what is usually interpreted as facts.

To the author, the psychology of the unconscious as understood at present is more of an art and a technic than an understanding science, although it is the beginning of a science which can no longer be ignored by orthodox psychology and the fundamental sciences. The psychology of the unconscious has opened up a new domain which promises much information on the basic issues of life. At present researches yield Actualities, but it may be within their power to recognize the alternate and more important Meaning. In order to study both Actuality and Meaning comprehensively, more adequate theories than those of either Freud or Jung must be developed.

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