THE POLITICS OF PREVENTION
Political movements derive their vitality from the displacement of private affects upon public objects. The intensive scrutiny of the individual by psychopathological methods discloses the prime importance of hitherto- neglected motives in the determination of political traits and beliefs. The adult who is studied at any given cross. section of his career is the product of a long and gradual development in the course of which many of his motivations fail to modify according to the demands of unfolding reality. The adult is left with an impulse life which is but partially integrated to adulthood. Primitive psychological structures continue in more or less disguised form to control his thought and effort.
The state is a symbol of authority, and as such is the legatee of attitudes which have been organized in the life of the individual within the intimate interpersonal sphere of the home and friendship group. At one phase of childhood development the wisdom and might of the physical symbol of authority, typically the father, is enormously exaggerated by the child. Eder traces the significance of this for the state in the following words:
What occurs as we come more in touch with the external world, when the principle of reality develops, is the finding of surrogates for this ideal father. We discover that the parent is not all-wise, all-powerful, all-good, but we still need to find persons or abstractions upon which we can distribute these and similar attributes. By a process of fission these feelings are displaced on to and may be distributed among a number of surrogates. The
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Publication information: Book title: Psychopathology and Politics; Politics: Who Gets What, When, How; Democratic Character. Contributors: Harold D. Lasswell - Author. Publisher: Free Press. Place of publication: Glencoe, IL. Publication year: 1951. Page number: 173.
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