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(1958). Comment by Antonia Wenkart. Psychoanal. Rev., 45A(1/2):78-81.

(1958). Psychoanalytic Review, 45A(1/2):78-81

Comment by Antonia Wenkart

Three distinct elements, it seems to me, need to be considered in reviewing this paper-the analyst, the analytic process and the patient. Beginning with the person of the analyst, I take it for granted that he is a relatively mature person, intelligent and sensitive, and motivated by the human desire to help others, which is in itself a healthy motivation. I also assume that he has been properly trained and has successfully undergone his personal investigation, thereby achieving greater facility in coping with his own problems.

Only if he fulfills these qualifications would I call a person who undertakes the treatment of a mentally disturbed patient a psychotherapist or psychoanalyst. It is therefore all the more difficult to believe that any well-qualified therapist would, as the authors claim, “dwell on psychogenic events” or “expect the simple recollection to bring about change.”

To be sure, simplification and popularization of psychoanalytic tenets are nothing new. Exploitation of serious human endeavors for purposes of sensationalism or monetary gain is not confined, as we all know, to the realm of psychology. Nevertheless, within our profession at least, it ought to be clear to us that while these things do happen they do not represent the full truth, nor do they reflect on bonafide psychotherapists.

It would be well for the authors of this paper, who contend that we are unduly preoccupied with pathology, to remember that the lawyer who defends murderers in court is identified not with murder but with humanity, not with punishment but with freedom. The hematologist is identified not with the destruction of white blood corpuscles in disease but with the circulatory system and its wholesome regeneration. By the same token, the surgeon is identified neither with gangrene nor cancer, although he operates on sick tissues for the sake of the healthy ones.


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