Considerations of George Makari’s Revolution in Mind by David James Fisher

 Makari  and Fisher: Broadening  and Deepening our Discipline
 N. Szajnberg, MD, Managing Editor

 After four year’s silence following publication of his landmark “Revolution in Mind,” George Makari responds to Fisher’s incisive review.  Makari’s book takes its place with Ellenberger’s history of the unconscious and the works by Peter Gay and Sander Gilman.  Today, Makari focuses on the “professionalization” of psychoanalysis beginning in the 1920’s. 

 Both Makari and Fisher share concerns about the state of our discipline as a professional organization, both the level of discussion, and concern that we move forward rather than repeat the “sins” of our forefathers (and foremothers, such as Ms. Freud and Ms. Klein).  Frattarolli in an earlier piece, wrote about the conflict inherent in psychoanalysis, a playing-out of Freud’s ambivalence about orthodoxy and heresy. In a presentation of her new book, The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis, Jamieson Webster argues that such life-death struggles and pessimism may be inherent in the nature of our discipline. (The author will be interviewed by Frank Baudry at NYPSI Tuesday evening, February 27.

 The function of in part is to enliven thoughtful discussion. Makari’s and Fisher’s essays about a discipline for which they are both concerned captures this atmosphere.  Please join in.

Click Here to Read: Considerations of George Makari’s Revolution in Mind by David James Fisher, Ph.D.

Click Here to Read:   Psychoanalysis in Conflict: Orthodoxy and Heresy, Part 1, by Elio Frattaroli on this website. 

Click Here to Read: Psychoanalysis in Conflict: Orthodoxy and Heresy Part 2 by Elio Frattaroli on this website.

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19 Comments on “Considerations of George Makari’s Revolution in Mind by David James Fisher”

  1. Donald M Marcus Says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dr. Fisher’s review of Makari’s book which had not yet come to my attention. I particularly appreciated his taking Makari to task for not attending to Freud’s understanding the importance of social factors, although I think a better term would be the environment which would include the family as well as the culture. Fisher writes that Freud paid attention to social factors early and consistantly. While it is true that Freud’s first theory of seduction (actually trauma) did pay attention to external factors, he soon gave that up in favor of his drive theory. This meant that fantasy was more important than reality. This is totally contrary to all that Darwin teaches us. To the extent that we continue to hold that theory, we are no longer scientific and are unable to contribute to wider scientific discussion.

    Despite my one negative comment, I very much value Dr. Fisher’s excellent review.

  2. Tamar Schwartz Says:

    Comment from George Makari:

    To the Editor:

    I would like to thank David James Fischer for his thoughtful comments about my book. Four years after its publication, Revolution in Mind has developed a life of its own. While I have my ideas about the lessons to be learned from this history, my view is one among the over fifty book reviews and commentaries that the book provoked. Nonetheless, let me add my thoughts to that chorus, since I think the present turmoil on the psychoanalytic list-servs and inside the American Psychoanalytic Association could benefit from perspectives offered from that history.

    Over the last century, psychoanalysis as a field defined itself in several, strikingly different ways. In Revolution in Mind, I argued this community – like any intellectual community – could be characterized by its border commitments (the way it distinguished those in from those out, the “price” of admission) as well as the level of autonomy afforded to those inside that boundary. In the book, I described how the first Freudian community had porous boundaries and allowed anyone who was a partial Freudian entrance. Once in, this community – as exemplified by the rollicking meetings of the Wednesday Society in Vienna – allowed extensive freedom of inquiry. This model offered the best possibility for growth. It welcomed cultural critics, doctors, writers and reformers and allowed for the movement to gather steam.

    However, the cost of this strategy was that there was no legitimate, rule-based manner to exclude individuals who might do harm to the community, including psychotics, sociopaths and misogynists. Anyone who wanted to could call themselves a psychoanalyst, including hucksters and rapists. The whole movement could be high-jacked by sensational actions of these outliers. There was no structure in place to protect patients from such people. In response to a number of events in 1910, Freud, Jung and Ferenczi formed the I.P.A and changed the borders of this movement over night. Now the price of entry was full acceptance of Freudian psycho-sexuality. Partial adherence would no longer be good enough. The boundary was a clear, very demanding theoretical one that left little intellectual freedom for those who became part of this community. The benefit was that crazed theorists and con-men would be denied entrance to the I.P.A thanks to this criterion. They would not discredit the movement or harm its patients. However, any theoretician with significantly contrary ideas to Freud would also be denied entrance. Thus, the schisms began. By 1914, they resulted in a number of small groups dominated by charismatic leaders ( i.e.the Adlerians, Jungians, and Freudians).

    After World War I, the field of psychoanalysis sought to stabilize itself by placing increased emphasis on shared technique and the bureaucratized system for training which emerged in Berlin, with its psychoanalytic institute and the tripartite training system. Again this came with advantages and disadvantages. Firstly, this process of creating analytic bureaucracies made the rules of entry and the freedom of inquiry rule-based and a matter of disseminated, dispersed authority. Training was not just based on the opinions of one’s analyst but numerous factors. Bureaucratization diminished the power of charismatic leaders who sought to indoctrinate students and create theoretical clones, though it did not fully rid the field of this tendency.

    Nonetheless, the wilder analysts of the early years, some of whom injected innovation and challenged orthodoxies, were excluded. The field would not have to answer for the drugged-out activities of Otto Gross, but it also would not benefit from the challenges of thinkers like Eugene Bleuler. .

    For a number of decades, bureaucratization was a great success. It stabilized the field and coincided with great growth. However with time, this success created its own kind of trouble. We may have protected our patients from wild analysts, but we have done so at the expense of making psychoanalysis as an intellectual movement too removed from other fields, too predictable and too tame. The field badly needs to be reinvigorated. We need infusions of new ideas from new people. The cost of becoming an analyst needs to go down, literally and metaphorically. With our past in mind, there should be ways to protect our patients while loosening some of the rules that suffocate psychoanalysis today.We need not return to the wild
    days of the past, need not throw out all standards, to lower the bar for those who seek admission. And we need not get into idealized discussions of freedom and repression. All intellectual communities have boundaries that dictate who is in and who is out. The question for us now is to redraw those lines in a way that takes into account our present challenges and the lessons of our tumultuous past.

    George Makari, M.D

  3. Tamar Schwartz Says:

    Comment from David I. Tresan,

    Dear Dr. Fisher,

    Just a simple and short note to tell you how much I appreciated your comments on Makari’s book. I found your Considerations beautifully written, giving credit where due, and matter of factly saying where not. I am a long practicing analyst (Jungian SF) and have always wrestled with Freud from my young years, finding it hard to have confirmed where indeed he was the progenitor he was and where he seemed terribly flawed. Much of this has sorted itself out for me now, but I want to thank you for the clarity, succinctness, and breadth and depth of your remarks in so few words and also your couching them in historical intellectual context. I know this praise is probably due Makari ultimately, but your mirror is fine indeed.

    Yours most gratefully,
    David I. Tresan, M.D.”

  4. arnold richards Says:

    I think Dr Makari is right on when he states our task is to re draw our boundaries in a way that will meet our present challenges But I would add that psychoanalysis from an organizational point of view is not monolithic For example APsaA followed AA Brill and excluded lay analysts while most of the rest of the world followed Freud and did not. Similarly APsaA and its educational arm is much more restrictive in regard to having all of its own members participate fully in the educational side of psychoanalysis than other institutes and associations. However it would appear that finally after six decades “the times they are changing” and inclusion rather than exclusion is supported by a majority of the APsaA membership

  5. Tamar Schwartz Says:

    Comment From Professor Charles Strozier, CUNY

    Interesting essay on Markari, whose book I had missed. I liked the richness of your analysis of what Freud brought together in his work and also your treatment of the way the feuds in our field over time replicate the cultic model set by Freud. I would add that the history of psychoanalysis has been decisively influenced by being outside the university. The training institute has been the strength, and weakness, of everything about psychoanalysis. I also think the psychotherapy project which privileges talk will inevitably survive this historical moment of commitment to drugs and belief in brain work. Incidentally, I see the discovery of psychotherapy as Freud’s great achievement. His version of it he called psychoanalysis with
    certain parameters that no longer are relevant or possible but the larger project will have a long life.

  6. Tamar Schwartz Says:

    Comment from Dr Louis Breger:

    Your writing seems to get better all the time. With my aging memory, I only have a general impression of the Makari book, which I read when it came out. You, of course. provide a much more detailed critique. The latter part of your essay has much that I agree with, spelled out
    like a true intellectual historian. I might give a bit more emphasis to Freud’s own role in demanding conformance to dogmas, though you do say that. You also make the point, which again I would emphasize more, that he was forever stealing ideas from others — beginning with
    Breuer — and not giving them credit. Nevertheless, you describe this process, which has characterized PA for its entire history. And, of course, I miss any reference to my two Freud biographies — have you seen them? I have copies of the 2009 book which I would be happy to
    send to you. I make many of the same points you do with, in addition, adding my speculations as to why Freud acted the way he did. Paul Stepansky’s “Psychoanalaysis at the Margins” is also very good.

    from Dr Louis Breger, Author of Freud: Darkness in the Midst of
    Vision, is Professor of Psychoanalytic Studies, Emeritus, California
    Institute of Technology.”

  7. arnold richards Says:

    I have read both Breger biographies of Freud

    I am reminded of my high school Latin and Greek teacher Harry E Wedick who would often say to me “Arnold there are a limited number oif new ideas in the universe”

  8. Tamar Schwartz Says:

    Comment from Nathan Szajnberg:

    Incisive. Makari sees the tensions between a (scientific/professional) organization having a set of standards for its practice, yet permitting freedom to explore, argue, think through. He senses that psychoanalysis has been caroming between these poles. He cautions us to recognize the need to balance standards without stifling criticism and creativity.

  9. Tamar Schwartz Says:

    Comment from Robert Nye:

    I read your very thoughtful comment. I think I have gotten a pretty accurate account of the book itself partly on what you say it says, and partly on what it does not say. The “scientific-clinical” origins of psychoanalysis is of course important, providing he actually does the history of those developments in a truly historical way and is not simply taking a teleological explanation of what survived from science in Freud’s work and early psychoanalysis. I’d actually be interested in the bits that had to do with national dispersion because it must sum up a lot of scholarship.

    On the bits he left out, the social, literary and philosophical, I have to say this cannot be good news for any full understanding of Freud and the movement. The early practitioners were ALL literate men (and women), trained in the arts as well as medicine. That was their thinking material. Did he mention evolutionary theory & the Darwin/Lamarck debate?

    I am not sure if Makari himself is concerned about the fate and possible revitalization of the movement or if some of that was you thinking aloud, but it seems clear enough he has tried to explain why the movement & lay analysis in particular has been on the defensive, despite the great contemporary suspicion of tranquilizing drugs, the clinical trials that show that for many mainline tranquilizers clinical trials placebos are as efficacious as the drugs, and the wide support for more one-on-one contact in all areas of counseling and mental health treatment. My view is that the medical model is in a state of crisis and this can only benefit psychoanalysis in the long run.

    In any case, a terrific review. I am probably going to order the book.

    Professor Robert Nye

  10. George Makari Says:

    Now I know why it’s best not to respond to book reviews: once you start, it’s hard to stop. For those who haven’t read the book and congratulate Dr. Fischer on his critical assessments, I would ask them to see for themselves. For what it is worth, the author does not at all agree with the notion that social factors were underplayed or that he gave short shrift to philosophy. In fact both were central concerns of mine. The book explicitly focuses attention on the rise of post- Kantian thought and explicitly tracks its deep impact on Freud and his intellectual community, and it employs the model of a discursive community precisely to allow for social forces in the creation and reformation of this field.

  11. Nathan Szajnberg Says:

    Read Makari’s book. If this review activates readers to turn or return to his book, the review serves an important purpose. If the review catalyzes colleagues to think further about Makari’s subject — the critical history of our discipline, the review serves further. And if the review encourages us to think more carefully about the present state of our discipline, the level of dialogue (or serial monologues on occasion), the review helps us reflect fruitfully.

  12. arnold richards Says:

    I would disagree that Freud was not involved in politics He championed the free clinic movement of the Austro Marxists and was very sympathetic to the ideals of Red Vienna I believe the city gave him an award in the late 20’s

  13. ahmed fayek Says:

    The discussion we are having is rich but it lacks clarity about what Makari’s book raises as issues we need to address, not just comment on. Psychoanalysis has a special kind of crisis that could be part of its fabric but could also be identifies specifically: it went from crisis to crisis since Adler’s defection (1910),but without solving any of them. Thus, our present crisis is a compounded one, not isolated crises.
    I suggest discussing there aspects in the present situation: Is it psychoanalysis the cause? Or is it the psychoanalysts? Or is it the issue of the profession itself (considering that psychoanalysis is not a profession but a designation within four or five defined professions of mental health providers).
    As a comment on Richard’s remark: Freud was very much part or enthusiastic about the social movement in Europe and Vienna at his time. Some of his early supporters were active socialists who joined him as a leading thinker of social liberalism.

  14. arnold richards Says:

    What is less well known is that there were a cohort of American psychoanalysts who were either members or fellow travelers of the Communist Party USA. An interesting question is how their politics impacted on their psychoanalysis My thesis is that it made for a more positive therapeutic attitude Just as Marx believed he could change society they felt they could change individuals They eschewed concepts such as un analyzbilty and ego defects They of course had to keep their politics in the closet because of the red baiting witch hunting climate of the 30s 40s and 50s. Hoover was out to attack modernism – film art literature and psychoanalysis

  15. ahmed fayek Says:

    Makari’s book is significant in many ways. I chose the angle of putting psychoanalysis in context..a context, because after 1970 psychoanalysis was severed from its past and history in a manner that deprived the new generations from orientating themselves within the fragmentation of the theory. Better, Makari underscores the fact that psychoanalysis WAS something different from it is now. Although psychoanalysis is interwoven in the fabric of the western culture, thus will be alive all the time in the thinking and speech of the ordinary person in the street, it is in a sever comatose condition clinically, or among the clinicians. Therefore, we need to record its history not just as events but as ‘a history of a major break through’ in uncovering the nature of the psychical. Because I am not sure how this point is of interest to others, I would like to expand Richards notion about Freud and politics, because it is one of psychoanalysis’s contexts.
    If you imagine what would the Viennese society have judge Freud’s new thoughts about sexuality, his open discussions of morality, feminism, social ailments and their causes etc. in the eighteen eighties you will see a liberal leader who is offering a new concept of social honesty, etc. If you add to that the crush of the commune in Paris in 1840 and the socialist (early communist) movement that permeated European Intelligentsia after, you will see that psychoanalysis was not Anna O, or little Hans; it was a cultural movement too. The left looked at psychoanalysis then as we look at the up rises in the middle east now. One of the most brilliant critiques of psychoanalysis and supporter G. Politzer was a member of the Communist party of France. I had three mentors who taught me psychoanalysis in the mid-fifties (trained analysts from France) who were far from being supporters of the working class but characterised their psychoanalytic background as dialectical enough to count them as far leftists.
    Makari is bringing the notion that as analysts we should know that we are studying a theory that has just as one of its attributes a clinical application._

  16. arnold richards Says:

    Dr Fayek’s comments are right on Psychoanalysis was part of a cultural movement then but less so now especially in the US Is it different in Argentina and France? Are the Lacanian’s different from the establishment Freudians Psychoanalysis took a fateful turn in the US because his antipathy to lay analysis The Europeans had bildung The Americans had psychiatry When Waelder arrived in Philadelphia He wrote How ca I teach psychoanalysis here when my students do not know a single classical quotation Some of this is amplified in papers of mine on this site Put Brill or Leo Baeck in the search engine

  17. ahmed fayek Says:

    Makari’s book (I got it few weeks ago and still re-reading parts of it) and Dr. Richards mentioning his work reminded me of something he said in a paper published 1990 in the Quarterly:”…maybe psychoanalysts tolerate greater revision of psychoanalysis as a theory of the mind than as a theory of therapy”. This remark and the history of conflicts in psychoanalysis even-possibly even more- after Freud’s death is exactly what Dr. Richards said more a decade ago. The irony is that analysts differ ‘viciously’ in regard to therapy, and maybe because they did notice the ‘the Revolution in Mind’ Makari is talking about.
    I idea is that the history of analysis started with a false theory of therapy (hypnosis) followed by a theory of psychopathology that emerged from that therapeutic technique (a reversed relationship). Then Freud shifted to free association as a clinical method but remained captive of the catharsis theory till the end (Analysis Terminable and Interminable). Analysts differed and improvised theories of psychoanalysis based on the catharsis theory but with their own definition of the repressed. They remained hinged to the false start of psychoanalysis: Therapy first …then maybe…??They did not notice that Freud has another theory of psychoanalysis (not articulated well but he derived from listening to free association); a theory he started between 1900 and 1905, then revised between 1915-1920. I am saying that because all the talk about the flaws in classical Freudian theory was based on the flaws in the catharsis theory that he expanded beyond its limits to accommodate his discoveries in the other theory. Some analysts realised the difference and understood Freud the right way (once again Dr. Richards understanding of transference in a paper 1984).
    Freud left us two theories and we need to elicit the implicit theory in his text (which is the revolution) to appreciate his remarkable intuition.
    In regard to Lacan I personally witnessed a historical moment worth mentioning. Lacan was anaylsed by Loewenstien. His breakthrough 1949 was by challenging the concept of EGO (coincidence !!). After that his seminars on Freud’s text fascinated the intellectuals of Paris including the most bright (liberal) analysts. 1967 ( I was there) was the year of the youth revolution that swept the world starting in china and peaking in Paris. Lacan’s hasa strong following among young revolting university students. They hijacked the youth movement. He became the talk of France in a few weeks. What is important is that after his seminar of that year (The Psychoanalytic Act) he started gradually to interpret his own text along with Freud’s till he was satisfies by just his text (he kept upstaging himself every year). With the death of communism in France and the world, Lacan’s fad also dwindled. In other words: Lacanianism became metapsychoanalysis which is what it is now.
    There was a French Kohut few years before what happened in the Us.

  18. Fred Sander Says:

    I am heartened by the many posts responding albeit somewhat belatedly to Dr. Fischer’s comments on George Makari’s contribution
    to the evolution of Psa theory and practice over the past century. It has set in motion
    a long overdue examination of our current crisis.

    The role of 19th century positivism on Freud’s thinking cannot
    be over emphasized. It linked Psa early on to medicine and
    narrowed the scope not only to the patients who were considered
    treatable (Leo Stone), but more importantly the short shrift given
    the hermeneutic side of Psa precluded our field from becoming
    general theory not limited to psychology but included a wide
    range of humanistic disciplines.

    Had Freud been born fifty years later the revolution in
    physics might have allowed him to give equal weight to
    the environment (seduction theory) as to the emphasis on
    infantile sexuality. The certainty of reality would have been
    tempered by Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and
    we would not today be locked in the 19th c illusion of truth.
    Symptomatology could be viewed as both intrapsychally driven at the
    same time as environmentally determined.

    We would be in totally different place today from the parochial squabbles
    of our list serves.

    Fred Sander

  19. ahmed fayek Says:

    I believe that the crisis in psychoanalysis has peaked: neither its insistent criticism for four decades has brought it to death, nor the contemporary schools were able to replace it with anything close to what they criticized, not even in the limited area of clinical analysis. It is the responsibility (or the welcomed duty) of the older generation of analyst to resuscitate a comatose analysis.
    Older analyst witnessed its gradual decline, and know now, better that then, how to respond to its critics and what deserved criticism (Like Dr.Sander’s notion of the effect 19 century’s influence of Freud’s thinking). They also know how psychoanalysis has become part of everyday life to underscore its core proposition regarding the psyche. They could raise the awareness of the young generations about their theory so they could take it back to their local societies and engage their colleagues in enriched discussions.
    I hope before this discussion dies out of exhaustion or boredom that something more lasting and usefull will come from it. We just need to look back at how Freud moved his society then the whole western world to a new era to gain the courage to do that. Makari’s book is a good introduction to how just a few could change many.

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