Psychoanalytic Sociology: An Essay on the Interpretation of Historical Data and the Phenomena of Collective Behavior

Psychoanalytic Sociology: An Essay on the Interpretation of Historical Data and the Phenomena of Collective Behavior

Psychoanalytic Sociology: An Essay on the Interpretation of Historical Data and the Phenomena of Collective Behavior

Psychoanalytic Sociology: An Essay on the Interpretation of Historical Data and the Phenomena of Collective Behavior

Excerpt

The present work is directed toward the development of a theory of social change based on the integration of various psychoanalytic hypotheses and assumptions with normative sociology. The purpose of this work is to establish the usefulness of certain aspects of psychoanalytic theory for historical and sociological endeavor. Because it is necessary, in terms of these disciplines, to stress interaction between and among individuals and groups--which is not a central concern of classic psychoanalysis-- and because it is necessary also to stress such factors as change as a function of temporal processes and the flexibility of personality, it is our task to abstract from psychoanalysis those themes which are particularly pertinent to these dimensions of analysis. This often leads away from themes which Freud himself considered to be of paramount importance. However, the fact is that many emphases and concerns of the contemporary ego psychology tend to do the same, and are for that reason much more consistent with the requirements of historical and sociological endeavor.

We have addressed ourselves to the problem of change in an earlier work, The Wish To Be Free. In that work we explained social change in terms of a nurturance-subordination scheme in which passive relationships to authority are acted upon without critical reflection (i.e., mandates are not available for conscious examination and repudiation) as long as nurturant and protective obligations are fulfilled on the part of authority. We stated that, when the morality binding the situation is violated, for whatever reason, the conditions are established for radical demands against the environment. However, there are instances of change other than those characterized by nurturance-subordination. We are therefore stating now that any internalized network of standards and expectations creates a situation of psychic stability, and that the disruption or loss of this network can lead to radical activity.

Further, we now consider that violation of the morality as such (i.e., superego transgression) is not a sufficient basis for radical reactions.

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