In our anxiety to avoid the intrusion of sentiment into our scientific formulations, have we not gone to the length of excluding it altogether from our field of observation? Is love a fiction, an illusion of a weak mind shrinking from reality, and if so how and why should our minds (regarded as really incapable of loving) ever have created the 'idea' of love? Science is concerned with the whole range of experience, but its aim is to formulate this without the bias of hope or fear. It must therefore exclude wish and purpose (so far as is humanly possible) from the scientific 'interest' but not necessarily from the scientific 'field'. We even draw a distinction in this respect between 'pure' and 'applied' science, and regard the outlook of the latter as being restricted by reason of its 'practical' objectives.
Even pure science, however, cannot function without a driving 'interest' of which indeed it is an expression, but it is characterized by its aim to abstract this interest from any particular wish or purpose, so as to extend and organize knowledge in a way that shall be valid for all. While holding that our formulations can never be final, philosophic science holds also that they should be objective, i.e. uninfluenced by the limitations of the senses and the distortions due to feeling and tradition. If science had any philosophy of life it would be expressed thus: 'We should wish what we see, not see what we wish.' This attitude to reality probably constitutes the fundamental antithesis of science and religion, but we must consider whether the scientific attitude is not itself a denial of a section of reality – a denial, that is, of a body of fact as well as of a 'bias of interest' – a range of data, too, which vitally concerns us as psychopathologists.
It will not be denied that even the scientific mind is the product of evolution and culture, and that, while it has got rid of certain imperfections in itself, it may have done so at the expense of limiting its purview. Even within the field of scientific method this operation of abstraction is admitted to occur, as when primitive physics excluded from its study the 'secondary qualities' of matter. It may be agreed, then, that certain data are peculiarly refractory to scientific method, and that certain states of mind are incompatible with the scientific attitude. If then one of these 'objectionable' states is a psychological fact, e.g. sentimentality, it would tend to get less than justice from scientific study, and psychology would suffer for too rigid an adherence to the idealisms appropriate to physical science. (It is even rather absurd that some psychologists should idealize the formulations of physical science at a time when physicists themselves are not agreed as to the kind of formula which is desirable.)
When I began my studies of social behaviour twenty years ago, however, I never imagined that I would come to attempt to put the conception of altruistic (non-appetitive) love on a scientific footing. Rejecting the 'ad hoc' and therefore sterile hypothesis of a 'herd instinct' both on biological and methodological grounds, I was nevertheless early compelled to recognize that the psychoses are essentially disorders of the social disposition; and that all our theories of the construction of the social group are seriously inadequate. Five years ago, however, I realized that the infant differs more from our primitive ancestors than we adults do, in spite of Recapitulation Theories and that this
adaptation to infancy (as I called it) implies an innate disposition towards the social habit though not towards a 'Herd Instinct'. Nurture of the young and 'the social habit' appeared to me associated with each other, and with the replacement of blind instinct by intelligence, in their actual distribution throughout the Animal Kingdom.
I had been compelled to reject the Freudian Metapsychology on logical and biological grounds from the time of its appearance, but it was not until 1932 that I seriously questioned Freud's sexual theory and the clinical conception of the Oedipus Complex and sex-jealousy, paternal repression and castration-anxiety, as the main determinants of culture and character. In February of the latter year, however, in studying the change that had occurred in Teutonic culture and character during the Middle Ages and particularly the history of the witch phobia, I reached the conclusion that repression was a function of love, not of fear, and that the repressor of the 'oedipus complex', etc., was the mother, not the father. My theoretical standpoint was still dominated by the fate of the Oedipus Complex, but I seemed to be able to get a new and synthetic point of view towards the data of animal behaviour, the evolution of culture and the Psychoses, which Freud had been unable to achieve. 1933 was mainly devoted to psychopathology;1934 to a study of the forces underlying social life generally, and particularly to the nature of the jealousies, etc., which differentiate one culture and character from another. I reached the conception of a Dimorphism of human 'nature' and Culture (of course never clear-cut or absolute) and of the mode of interaction between cultural conditions and the upbringing of the child, which I had outlined two years previously, but then merely on an 'oedipus' basis….
I had now brought conclusions based on animal behaviour and ethnology into relation with the data of psychopathology and the experimental evidence of psychotherapy. For the first time I felt it was in order to try out my working hypotheses systematically against the established theory of Psycho-analysis. This was all the more difficult because Psycho-analytic Theory is supported by the cooperative work of many specialists in widely different fields and presents a relatively integrated body of 'explained' observations, extremely difficult for one individual, single-handed, to challenge successfully. The Freudians have all the advantage of a disciplined team working on the same hypotheses with definite conceptions and terminology. Against these advantages for interpretation and investigation, however, 'team work' seems to hinder any critical philosophical investigation of basic assumptions.
English psychologists, who remain unattached to any 'school', suffer a great disadvantage in lack of cooperation or even of common understanding. Further (largely in consequence of this), they suffer in prestige and publicity and are stigmatized by psycho-analysts as half-hearted, eclectic, and individualistic plagiarists of the Freudian discoveries. Neither their criticisms of psycho-analysis nor their own positive views had sufficient unity to lend each other support or to serve as a basis for further cooperative development.
Nevertheless something tending towards a consensus of opinion, some common attitude, seems to be developing – a convergence not based merely on a negative attitude to Freud (due to similar repressions), but proceeding from positive observations from a slightly different standpoint and with different cultural antecedents. With an increasing sense of contact with these workers, and having, through the good offices of an individual, enjoyed (for a year or so) the leisure for a wide theoretical survey that psychotherapeutic practice does not permit, I felt emboldened to present an account of the tentative conclusions arrived at, even though this as yet must be extremely unsystematic.
Formally, the tentative theory I have formed belongs to the group of psychologies that originates from the work of Freud. It differs fundamentally from psycho-analysis in introducing the conception for an innate need-for-companionship which is; the infant's only way of self-preservation. This need, giving rise to parental and fellowship 'love', I put in the place of the Freudian Libido, and regard it as generally independent of genital appetite. The application of this conception seems to re-orient the whole psycho-analytic dynamics. It attributes to the mother the significance in rearing that Freud formerly attributed to the father; it lessens the importance attached to individual sense gratification as motive and increases the significance of social desires and interests (i.e. it represents 'expression' as an offering or stimulus applied to others, not merely as a pleasant exercise of function). It denies the sexual basis of culture-sublimation and it relegates the Oedipus Wish and Sexual Jealousy to third place in primacy and importance as disturbers of social development and harmony. It seems that Freudian opinion is trending in this direction; but no one seems to recognize that the logical conclusion is that the Oedipus Complex, being largely contingent on particular modes of rearing and forms of family structure, culture, and racial character must vary within wide limits - must be, as I said, Dimorphous. In other respects also the theory here sketched produces widely divergent interpretations from those of Freud. A vast mass of difficult (even transcendent) hypothetical constructions are swept away, and a very considerable body of hitherto admittedly intractable problems are seen to have a possible solution.
The present volume is largely based (Chapters 1 to 12) on a series of lectures delivered to the Institute of Child Psychology this spring. It is therefore non-technical so far as the ability of the author and the nature of the subject will allow. The more recondite arguments and detailed evidence must be reserved for a later work which is in hand. Inevitably also there occurs a good deal of repetition, as the same subject must be looked at from different angles. Psychology does not lend itself to systematic presentation.
It may also be objected that the book is not a balanced presentation of data inasmuch as but little attention is given to morbid psychology, delinquency, etc., whereas stress is laid throughout on the social aspects and relations of mental process. There are, however, good reasons for this. Biological and Ethnological data formed the ground for my own departure from Psycho-analytic beliefs, and, further, they have a certain special value for the psychologist.
First the facts are objective and can be checked by several observers, unlike evidence derived from the analysis of patients. The behaviour in question also appears under natural conditions and not under the artificial and uncertain influence of 'transference'. But it has a third special value for us. It presents us with pictures of mental and social life departing widely from everything we are accustomed to take for granted. Thus it affords us the only means of criticizing our idea of what is 'normal' and what is 'natural' for mankind. It is impossible even to pretend to an understanding of human nature without knowing what varieties it can produce and under what diverse conditions it can develop and survive.
Freud and Adler themselves naïvely regard as 'human nature' or 'instinct', traits and dispositions which may turn out to be the product in subtle ways of certain factors in our particular culture. Added to this, psychopathological data have the further disadvantages of being highly technical and extremely voluminous. Further, a lifetime of observations can furnish a thorough study of very few cases, say two or three completed per annum. All sorts of practical circumstances too dictate the selection of cases for investigation, so there is no sort of guarantee that any observer has worked upon a 'fair sample'. I preferred, therefore, to offer a tentative 'try-out' of the group of related working hypotheses over other fields (which are indeed wide enough) and to reserve more detailed technical evidence and argument for a subsequent publication, in the hope that criticism and cooperation might test and perhaps develop these ideas.