Russia: The Revenge of Subjectivity

By Mikihalevich, Aleksandr | UNESCO Courier, March 1993 | Go to article overview

Russia: The Revenge of Subjectivity


Mikihalevich, Aleksandr, UNESCO Courier


PSYCHOANALYTICAL literature was circulated in Czarist Russia from 1907 onwards by Russian doctors who had been trained in Switzerland, Germany or Austria and had then gone on to practise analysis in their own country. These followers of modified forms of Freudianism strongly opposed the view that the causes of mental illness are constitutional, and were hostile to the pessimistic and lazy attitude which led to confining its victims in asylums. From their experience as practitioners in local communities, they came to believe that there was little point in working on dreams, associations of ideas and sexual and infantile phantasms in an autocratic society that did not allow its subjects any autonomy. Nevertheless, the Czarist censors did nothing to prevent the publication of the review Psikhoterapiya, the formation of a medical circle whose meetings were known as the "little Fridays", or the translation of the works of Freud and his disciples.

The Russian Freudians, who were comfortably established in their country's scientific and professional institutions, were reluctant to relate individuals to their psycho-sexual background, to the effects of childhood traumas, or to the conflict triggered off by the remoteness and coincidence of past and present in their experience. They turned instead to psychotherapeutic techniques consisting of a mixture of psychoanalysis (to shed light on the meaning of the symptoms), and of suggestion (to reeducate patients and help them to readapt).

The influence of the "nervism" school formed by I. M. Sechenov and later developed by I. P. Pavlov and V. M. Bekhterev prompted the Russian Freudians to look for a physiological basis for the psychological mechanisms and processes described by psychoanalysis. This reductionist approach tended to make them somewhat distrustful of introspection, to raise the brain reflex to the status of a key concept in scientific psychology and to play down the insights of mentally disturbed people into their own condition.

However, this voluntarist view of the individual as a programmed entity was qualified by clinical practitioners such as Drs. Drosnes, Ossipov, Vyrubov and Pevnitzky, who acknowledged the validity of Freud's discoveries concerning the sexual causes of neuroses. This was tantamount to discovering that the individual had a "psychic reality" which was shaped by the pleasure principle and was impervious to the illusions of voluntarist teaching. At the same time, Freud's disciples applied psychoanalysis to literature and political events, and rediscovered, in the wake of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, the pathological motivations underlying certain forms of terrorist and revolutionary action.

THE BOLSHEVIK-STALINIST PHASE

The new regime that emerged from the October revolution tolerated the existence of a Soviet Association of Psychoanalysis (1922-1931) and a Governmental Institute of Psychoanalysis (1922-1925). Intellectuals living in the big cities and Communist youth organizations realized that Freud could become a useful adjunct to Marx and could justify the sexual freedom favoured by Lenin in a bid to break down the traditional hidebound bourgeois family. Trotsky regarded the works of Freud and Adler as tools that could be used to create a new kind of human being and to provide decisive arguments against the theses of idealism. Medical doctors who were advocates of psychoanalysis, such as A. Zalkind, set out to construct a new form of teaching practice based on the concept of sublimation: since human beings possess a single form of bio-psychic energy, it should be managed in such a way as to derive the maximum benefit from eroticism for collective purposes, and also perhaps to bring about the end of "sexual imprisonment".

Although it did not share these extraordinary views, the Soviet Association of Psychoanalysis, a club of university teachers and middle-ranking Communist Party officials favourable to Freudianism, worked on possible ways and means of taking prophylactic sociological action. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Russia: The Revenge of Subjectivity
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.