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Burchard, E.M. (1958-1959). Psychoanalysis, Cultural History and Art. Psychoanal. Rev., 45D(4):99-104.

(1958-1959). Psychoanalytic Review, 45D(4):99-104

Psychoanalysis, Cultural History and Art

Edward M. L. Burchard, Ph.D.


The rise of psychoanalysis may be looked on as one type of adaptation to the complex conditions of life in the Western culture area in the Nineteenth Century. Although psychoanalysis possesses an internal dynamic, partially contributed by its relationship to the general intellectual discipline of medicine from which it has gradually broken away, its rapid growth and general public acceptance must be due to its organic rootedness in general human problems for which it has provided one possible kind of solution. Since the growth of nineteenth-century psychoanalysis is primarily identified with industrialized Central and Western Europe, a focus on the major adaptational problems of this area is justified. The following are illustrative.

First, the dissolution of traditional socio-economic groups had led to an accentuation of individual isolation and the consequent experience of anxiety and ennui to an extent and an intensity not previously experienced in that part of the world. This was reflected in many ways, varying from the rarity but greater depth of personal friendships to changes in social dance forms, and an increase in solitary, non-joyous drinking. At an intellectual level this same phenomenon may be seen in the elevation of pessimism to the status of a formal philosophy and, especially in Germany, the development of numerous private philosophical systems.

Second, increased social mobility with a consequent emphasis on individual achievement and personal competition. Numerous new competitive élites appeared, such as labor unions, bureaucracies and professional associations. Although these provided a partial stabilization of status and prestige, they also served as an incentive to competitive struggle for position.

Third, restraint of violence.

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