Study of Man: The French Turn to Psychoanalysis
A remarkable phenomenon about France has for several decades passed relatively unnoticed, save by the practitioners of psychoanalysis themselves. With the highest reputation for hospitality to advanced ideas and the greatest tolerance concerning sexual matters, that country, alone of the advanced Western nations, stubbornly rejected the new branch of medicine and its accent on sexuality. An anti-Freudian sociologist might reply offhand that there are no grounds for astonishment here: the freedom with which the French treat sex relieves them of many of the problems that call for psychoanalysis in other countries.
The answer is apt but it overlooks certain new facts. French psychoanalysis today is overwhelmed by patients; and the existing analysts are worked to a frazzle trying to cope with the flood of medical students and practicing physicians wanting to undergo training analyses prior to becoming analysts themselves. Yet French moeurs have not visibly changed in the direction of puritanism. There must be other reasons why that nation which used merrily to quote that “the chains of marriage are so heavy that it takes three to bear them” now seems to need a fourth in the person of the psychoanalyst.
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