Vol. 45 No. 3 1978 - page 343

objective point of reference in the values of a particular society, which
are hypothesized, at least for purposes of understanding and therapy, as
absolute. Because Freud maintained a pessimism in which he viewed
the demands of culture as intrinsically inimical to the free expression
of individualism, the necessity for limits to individualism is explicit in
his work.
is precisely this conception of the social order which is
being challenged by the twentieth-century cult of individuality.
Among the early analysts, Willhelm Reich in particular focused
on one particular aspect of Freud's theory: he emphasized the ravages
of sexual repression on the individual and envisioned a utopia of
sexual liberation.
contrast to Freud's pessimism, Reich did not
emphasize the contradictions and limitations inherent in man's nature,
but formulated man's ills simply as the outcome of a repressive culture.
As cultural mores have shifted and, to some degree, the restrictions on
sexual gratification have receded, the error of Reich's formulation
emerges. Many analysts agree that the incidence of psychological
problems has not diminished but that their nature has shifted.
particular there are fewer structural neuroses and symptoms and more
complaints about difficulties in loving, working and relating. This
shift corresponds to a shift in theoretical emphasis among analysts to
theories of separation-individuation (Mahler), theories of the develop–
ment of self and object representations (Jacobson), and theories of
narcissism (Kohut and Kernberg).
As Modell has stated, "The ever-changing nosology of the neu–
roses is the most direct indication of the impact of historical processes
upon the ego." However analysts may overemphasize historical impact
as being mediated predominantly if not exclusively through child–
rearing practices. And in fact, it is the formation and maintenance of
both ego ideal, or ideal self and superego in personality structure,
which reflect the historical process and changing cultural values. Even
so, a "good enough" environment is as essential to the maintenance of
mature personality differentiation as a "good enough" mother (or
surrogate) is essential to infantile differentiation in the separation–
individuation phase.
other words, the culture must provide an
ongoing environment which provides stability, the possibility of
ongoing relationships and consensuall y validated values.
the ab–
sense of such an environmental climate, many individuals whose early
childhoods fall within the range of acceptable family structures and
individual personality development, will nonetheless fall prey to
excessive manifestations of narcissism. The current cultural crises as
manifested through the many faces of narcissism reflects the loss of a
consensuall y validated value scheme.
The progressive shift in the individual's conception of his ideal
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