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Steinberger, C.B. (1983). Meetings of The National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 70(3):457-459.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Review, 70(3):457-459


Meetings of The National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis

Review by:
Claire B. Steinberger

November 20, 1982. [Symposium: Erik H. Erikson and Otto Rank: Clinical and Cultural Implications for Today]

Dr. Menaker spoke on “The Meaning of Motivation, Will, and Affirmation in Otto Rank's Thinking.”

In contrast to Freud, for whom the drive for instinctual gratification is the basic motivating factor in human behavior, for Otto Rank motivation springs fundamentally from the striving of the primary ego and the exercise of the will toward individuation and immortality. While Freud attributed neurosis to the castration complex, for Rank neurosis was due to the conflict between the wish for oneness with the womb and growth towards separateness, uniqueness, and individuation. Will is the energy source that fuels growth, and is responsible for the creative act of structuring the autonomous self and, ultimately, for the drive to fulfill the wish for immortality via the creative expression of the self in art and culture.

Guilt from self-assertion is precipitated both by the hostility implied in opposing the will of “the other,” originally the mother, and by the inner process of the will to individuate. Separation produces anxiety in the fear of aloneness and its ultimate expression, which is death. Caught guiltily between two great fears—of living, creating, and asserting the self, and of dying and losing the self—the person seeks the solution to the dilemma through affirmation of life by the functioning of the will in some creative form. The neurotic individual suffers from inhibition of this will, and in the therapeutic relationship, with the crucial value of achieving individuation, a balance between willing and loving, between separating and uniting, is sought.

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