Otto Rank, born Otto Rosenfeld

Rank, born Otto Rosenfeld

Austrian Psychoanalyst, Therapist, Writer and Teacher, one of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues

Author Quotes

What we achieve inwardly will change our outer reality.

Art is life's dream interpretation.

Though consciousness is but a feeble weapon, it is the only one accessible to us in the fight against neurosis.

All this results by means of the technique of association and of interpretation, developed by Freud, whereby we use our own Unconscious as the main way leading to the patient's Unconscious. This is the only means by which we can operate on his libido.

Thus it is a matter of allowing the patient, who in his neurosis has fled back to the mother fixation, to repeat and to understand the birth trauma and its solution during the analysis in the transference, without allowing him the unconscious reproduction of the same in the severance from the therapist.

On the other hand, analytic experience shows that something must exist which makes it possible to an extensive degree to free highly neurotic human beings from the excessive dominance of their Unconscious and put them in a position to live as those do who are not neurotic.

What lies in between is the psychology of the Unconscious created by Freud alone, namely, the first psychology which at all deserves this independent name, since the academic psychology originating from philosophical speculation gradually encroached more and more on to medical ground (philosophy of the senses, neurology, anatomy of the brain.)

Breuer's starting-point was "the fundamental fact that the symptoms of hysterical patients depend on impressive but forgotten scenes of their life (traumata), the therapy based on it causing them to remember and to reproduce these experiences under hypnosis (catharsis), and the consequent fragment of theory, that these symptoms correspond to an abnormal use of undischarged quantities of excitation (conversion)."

We believe we have shown, in a bird's-eye view of the essential achievements and developments of civilization, that not only all socially valuable, even over-valued, creations of man but even the fact of becoming man, arise from a specific reaction to the birth trauma, and, finally, that recognition of this through the psychoanalytic method is due to the most complete removal as yet achieved of the primal repression, through the overcoming of the primal resistance, anxiety.

This is shown from the analysis of the mania to invent, which Kielholz has attempted in an interesting work. In some of his cases it is obvious that the patient who wishes to discover perpetuum mobile or squaring of the circle wants in this way to solve the problem of permanently dwelling in and fitting into the mother's womb. In other cases of electrical inventions (apparatus though which run warm unseen currents), etc., a detailed study of the patients' delusions ought to show clearly their importance as a reaction to the birth trauma.

But in reality, as opposed to phantasy, in dream formation there occur during analysis many definite but quite unconscious reminiscences or reproductions of the individual intrauterine posture, or peculiarities relating to one's own birth. These could arise from no conscious memory or phantasy formation, because they could not be known previously by anyone.

When analytically adjusted psychiatrists have recognized that the content of the psychosis is "cosmologic," we need not avoid the next step, that of analysis of cosmology itself, for then we shall find that it is nothing other than the infantile recollection of one's own birth projected on to Nature.

The manic stage frequently following the depressive is physically distinguished, on the other hand, by the post-natal liveliness and movement, whilst the feeling of extreme happiness and blessedness conforms to the pre-natal libido gratification.

And one actually has the impression, from very many purely organic sufferings, that they save the individual — if one may so express it — from the luxury of a neurosis formation. But it would be more correct to say that the neurosis is a more pretentious substitute for a banal organic suffering. One is not frequently astonished to see how it is precisely a neurosis, with its 'counterfeit' physical symptoms, that prevents the development of any real disease of the same organ, just because it is a substitute for it.

Further, all neurotic disturbances in breathing (asthma), which repeat the feeling of suffocation, relate directly to the physical reproductions of the birth trauma. The extensive use of the neurotic headache (migraine) goes back to the specially painful part allotted to the head in parturition.

As we recognized in the neurotic a human being who cannot, without harm, overcome the primal affect of anxiety arising in the birth trauma, so the hero represents the type who, being free from anxiety, seeks to overcome an apparently specially severe birth trauma by a compensatory repetition of it in his deeds.

This can express itself in the child's manifold ways and peculiarities (always asking questions), proving that it seeks in itself for the lost memory of its earlier place of abode, which, in consequence of an extremely intense repression, it cannot find.

As the analysis of childish phobias has clearly shown, the size or fatness (circumference of the body) of the animals causing fear refers to the state of pregnancy of which the child, as we can show, has more than a vague memory.

But this is by no means to be taken metaphorically in any way - not even in the psychological sense. For in the analytic situation the patient repeats, biologically, as it were, the period of pregnancy, and at the conclusion of the analysis — i. e., the re-separation from the substitute object — he repeats his own birth for the most part quite faithfully in all its details. The analysis finally turns out to be a belated accomplishment of the incompleted mastery of the birth trauma.

In attempting to reconstruct for the first time from analytic experiences the to all appearances purely physical birth trauma with its prodigious psychical consequences for the whole development of mankind, we are led to recognize in the birth trauma the ultimate biological basis of the psychical.

The whole sequence of evolution seems somehow to correspond to continued births, rebirths, and new births.

n the religious myths, the creative will appears personified in God, and man already feels himself guilty when he assumes himself to be like God, that is, to ascribe this will to himself. In the heroic myths on the contrary, man appears as himself, creative and guilt for his suffering and fall is ascribed to God, that is, to his own will. Both are only extreme reaction phenomena of man wavering between his Godlikeness and his nothingness, whose will is awakened to the knowledge of its power and whose consciousness is aroused to terror before it.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, for there are plenty of others.

Thou shalt not give birth reluctantly.

Fathers and Mothers! Honor your children and love them.

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Rank, born Otto Rosenfeld
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Austrian Psychoanalyst, Therapist, Writer and Teacher, one of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues