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Valenstein, A.F. (1981). Insight as an Embedded Concept in the Early Historical Phase of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. St. Child, 36:307-315.

(1981). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 36:307-315

Insight as an Embedded Concept in the Early Historical Phase of Psychoanalysis

Arthur F. Valenstein, M.D.

PSYCHOANALYSIS ORIGINATED DURING THE FINAL DECADE OF THE nineteenth century, a particularly productive time in recent intellectual history. We might date modern rationalism from the seventeenth century and Descartes. It was in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, particularly the latter, however, that rationalism took the direction of enlightenment, and in so doing a trend to humanize science gathered momentum. This imbued the cultural and educational atmosphere at a time when Freud was being educated, and as he came into maturity. The climate of nineteenth-century liberalism expected that man should solve his problems through science. Starting in those days with a classical education, one came readily to the teaching of Socrates that virtue is the thing, that everything depends upon knowing. If you know, you can really do it. Whether it would be from the Greeks, where the inscription on the Delphic temple was "Know thyself," or from the New Testament (John 8:32), "The truth shall make you free," the message was clear.


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