The Repression of Psychoanalysis: Otto Fenichel and the Political Freudians

The Repression of Psychoanalysis: Otto Fenichel and the Political Freudians

The Repression of Psychoanalysis: Otto Fenichel and the Political Freudians

The Repression of Psychoanalysis: Otto Fenichel and the Political Freudians

Excerpt

The specter of psychoanalysis continues to haunt society; few, however, are frightened. Over the years the ghost has become a ghost of itself. It traded a threatening, sometimes revolutionary, mien for an affable comportment. At the end of his career, one of the deans of American psychoanalysis, Clarence P. Oberndorf, who had studied with Freud in the early 1920s, reflected with some disappointment that psychoanalysis had turned "legitimate and respectable" as well as "sluggish and smug." Once incorporated into medical schools, psychoanalysis came to attract those who "find security in conformity and propriety."

Oberndorf drew these conclusions three decades ago, in 1953, in his History of Psychoanalysis in America. In the interim they have not lost their truth; on the contrary, they have gained truth and lost meaning. History often proceeds not by refuting past insights, but by depriving them of referents; in so doing, those insights are undercut, and lose the ability both to convince and to attract attention. They become inexplicable pronouncements from another era. Today, it is no longer apparent that psychoanalysis was ever rebellious or that it was ever anything but sluggish and smug.

At the moment Oberndorf passed his judgments, Robert Lindner, a Baltimore analyst, confirmed them; he denounced . . .

Author Advanced search

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.