Being-in-the-World: Selected Papers of Ludwig Binswanger

Being-in-the-World: Selected Papers of Ludwig Binswanger

Being-in-the-World: Selected Papers of Ludwig Binswanger

Being-in-the-World: Selected Papers of Ludwig Binswanger

Excerpt

In "Freud and the Magna Charta of Clinical Psychiatry," Ludwig Binswanger writes:

It was on a September morning of the year 1927. Having broken away from the Congress of German Neurologists and Psychiatrists that was meeting in Vienna, I hurried to Semmering, full of impatience to return the unforgettable visit he [Freud] had paid me in those difficult times. I was about to leave and we were talking about the old days. Soon, however, the conversation turned to that which twenty years ago had brought us together and which, in spite of clear differences of opinion, had held us together, namely his life's work, his "great idea." With respect to a concrete clinical example—a serious case of compulsion neurosis —that had occupied us both a good deal, I threw out the question as to how we were to understand the failure of this patient to take the last decisive step of psychoanalytic insight and to thus continue in his misery in spite of all previous efforts and technical progress. As a contribution to the solution of the problem, I suggested that such a failure might only be understood as the result of something which could be called a deficiency of spirit [Geistigkeit], that is, an inability on the part of the patient to raise himself to the level of spiritual communication with the physician. Thus the patient was barred by his own lack from encompassing and overcoming his unconscious instinctual impulses at the last decisive point. I could barely believe my ears when the answer came: "Yes, spirit [Geist] is everything." I presumed that by spirit, Freud meant something like intelligence. But then he continued: "Man has always known he possessed spirit: I had to show him there is such a thing as instinct. But men are always unsatisfied, they cannot wait, they always want something whole and . . .

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