The Scope of Psychoanalysis, 1921-1961: Selected Papers

The Scope of Psychoanalysis, 1921-1961: Selected Papers

The Scope of Psychoanalysis, 1921-1961: Selected Papers

The Scope of Psychoanalysis, 1921-1961: Selected Papers

Excerpt

Franz Alexander is an investigator who has been extremely fertile both in ideas and in projects for testing them. He is ideally suited for the task which has been one of the main objectives of his scientific career--to bring psychoanalysis out of its early isolation. During the last fifty years, a gradual narrowing of the gap between psychoanalysis and other streams of scientific inquiry has occurred. Alexander has been one of those who have contributed most to this change.

Alexander is the author of many books in which he has outlined successively the main streams underlying his scientific thinking. A selection even from the best of his shorter writings must remain fragmentary for those who are not familiar with his longer works. In this introduction, accordingly, I shall try to survey the development of his ideas in historical perspective.

Psychoanalytic theory

One of Alexander's earliest papers, "The Castration Complex in the Formation of Character," published in 1923, ushered in a first phase in his scientific development. This phase was inspired by Freud's recently published observations on the role of an "unconscious sense of guilt" and "need for punishment" in the genesis both of neuroses and of certain character types. In the paper mentioned above, Alexander reported a detailed analysis, illustrating the role of such a "need for punishment" in a patient with a "neurotic character." One of the most important symptoms of this patient was what Alexander calls a "passive . . .

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