lytic ideas.nIt seems clear that much of the scorn and contumely routinelynheaped upon psychoanalysis in contemporary conservativenpolitical thought is due to: (1) the left-oriented politicalnstatements made by psychoanalytic figures who fail to understandnthe political implications of psychoanalysis (which arenanything but collective); (2) the unfortunate tendency of manynpeople, both psychological laymen and those who should knownbetter, to use the term psychoanalyst indiscriminately; and (3)nthe failure of those psychoanalysts and others who know thenimplications of psychoanalytic theory to do more than feelnsmugly superior, if somewhat annoyed, at the distortionsnwhich are routinely made of psychoanalytic ideas. Bear with menwhile I expand on the first of these points, and I believe you willnunderstand why “the movement” fears and dislikes psychoanalysisnand why conservatives should respect it.nWithout going into a technical discussion of the stages ofnpsychoanalytic treatment as experienced by an individual whonundergoes it, I will proceed direcdy to the heart of the process.nThe reality principle is the core of psychoanalytic treatment. Atnsmall risk of oversimplification, it can be said that this principlenprovides the major focus of initial evaluation, as well as thenmajor criterion for the success of the analytic process. By this Inmean that the ability of a candidate for psychoanalysis to distinguishnbetween reality and illusion, as well as his subsequentnreaction to both, is loosely termed his “mental health.” Hence,ndiagnosis is essentially an evaluation of how well one perceivesnreality. It follows then that the treatment, to the degree that it isneffective, results in an expanded awareness of reality; what wasnpreviously misunderstood is seen for what it is, whether pleasantnor unpleasant, flattering or painful. Neurotic illusions arenreplaced by reality.nWhat results from such a process is not only a person who isnaware of his history and its effects upon him, but also a personnwho understands the consequences of his own and others’nbehavior, one who takes responsibility for his own actions, andnexpects other people to take responsibility for their behaviornand its consequences. Obviously, liberals and social apologistsnof every political shade are not going to like the sort of thinkingnor any discipline that encourages this kind of realism. Theynprefer Utopian ideas wherein there arc no real consequencesnfor action.nA he individual on the couch, far from experiencing hisnsituation as the “pinnacle” of anything, finds himself involvednin a long, wearying journey in which “blood, sweat, toil, andntears” are his daily fare. His reward is that he has to swallownsome very unpleasant truths about human nature, most of allnhis own. If the process is successful, he may also find, in Freud’snwords, “the freedom to work and to love.” This, and only this,nis what psychoanalysis is about—the liberation of the individualnfrom illusion.n’ THE CONSERVATIVE ID •nIt is therefore with great regret that I must accuse many of mynpsychoanalytic colleagues of succumbing to the same cormptionnthat has so shamefully infected faculties of the colleges andnuniversities, that “vice of the intellectuals”: uncritical Marxistnideology. It is only the talent and will for systematic, aiticalnthought that can possibly distinguish intellectuals fromnanybody else—or make intellectuals worthwhile—and theynhave lost it. This, however, is not the fault of psychoanalysisnany more than Marcuse is the fault of philosophy.nOn the misidentification of who and what is psychoanalytic,nI believe that anyone who is at all familiar with contemporarynAmerican culture is aware that it is common to hear any sort ofnpsychotherapist, of any theoretical persuasion whatsoever,ncalled “my analyst” or “my shrink” (which, for interesting psychoanalyticnreasons, signifies the same thing). The appellationnis even applied to, of all things, various and sundry behavioristsnand “rational” types of therapists. This leads to the sad fact thatnwhat any psychologist or psychiatrist may state about humannnature, and the politics thereof, is likely to be attributed tonpsychoanalysis, which is the source of the term analyst. Itnfollows, then, that the warped, politicized views of mentalnhealth espoused by R.D. Laing and his ilk become attributednby unsophisticated conservatives to psychoanalysis. And uponnour heads are heaped the reactions to the so-called ExistentialnAnalysts—that word again.nOn the other hand, when the left celebrates psychotherapynthey are all quite aware that they are not praising psychoanalysisnbut specifically espousing the views of behaviorists and othernUtopians who believe human nature can be whatever a dogoodernwishes it to be, whatever a dreamer wishes to make it into.nPsychoanalysis, with its Adam Smith-like notions of humannselfishness and greed (not to mention rage and passion), isnclearly not their cup of tea.nM, Ly final point is confessional. For more years than Inchoose to number, I have sat back and silently scorned the naivenand the ignorant for their misuse of psychoanalytic ideas andnthe misidentification of psychoanalytic figures. Recently it hasnbecome evident to me that many like-minded colleagues havendone the same, some even assuming that they stood alone inntheir disagreement with and disapproval of such wholesalendistortion of psychoanalysis. Belatedly, I am aware that silentnscorn is only a refuge from responsibility. This letter is the fruitnof a conviction, however newfound, that the world will belongnto the activists and, therefore, if I have real convictions aboutnthe kind of world I want to live in, I must be an activist. And so Inbecome one.n—Richard Peters, Ed.D.nDr. Peters teaches at the Institute for PsychoanalyticnPsychotherapy in Philadelphia and is coauthor of The Visiblenand Invisible Group.nnnMarch 1983n