Some contributions on the theme
«The hope of psychotherapy in an endangered world»
published in Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane

Alcune pubblicazioni sul tema «La speranza della psicoterapia in un mondo in pericolo»
apparse sulla rivista Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane

edited by/a cura di Paolo Migone

Psychotherapie-Wissenschaft 12 (2) 2022 87–90


1988, 22(4), 3–34

Jerome Rabow, Psychoanalysis and sociology (Psicoanalisi e sociologia)

Abstract: Sociological work that recognizes the role played by unconscious factors, defense mechanisms, and repression in human behavior will continue to advance the field of psychoanalytic sociology. This discipline now faces the difficult task of operationalizing the fundamental concepts of psychoanalytic theory. The ontogenetic model can benefit from the work of academics familiar with the original psychoanalytic literature, and therefore able to underline characteristics and relationships of a dynamic type rather than traits and quantifiable variables. Such attempts will continue to require full mastery of both disciplines.

1990, 24(1), 19–28

Paul Roazen, «As if» personality and politics (Personalità «come se» e politica)

Abstract: Our notions of what it is to be human are bound to influence how we reason politically. Helene Deutsch’s psychoanalytic concept of «as if» described the false affectivity of chameleon-like conduct. Powerful identifications can be peculiarly imitative and lacking in character. Everyone plays roles that events assign. The tendency of public officials to fail to internalize problems in a way that looks ideally healthy can be especially adaptive in political life. The demands of functioning in democratic systems may be at odds with some psychological versions of normality. Decision makers can therefore seem frighteningly detached. Public life and the norms of individual psychology are not automatically identical.

1991, 25(3), 57–85

Giuseppe Vetrone & Chiara Berti, Problems of the psychotherapeutic treatment of victims of dictatorship (Problemi del trattamento psicoterapeutico di vittime della repressione dittatoriale)

Abstract: The paper addresses the theoretical and methodological problems concerning the psychotherapeutic treatment of victims of political repression under dictatorships in Latin America. Starting from some clinical reports produced by Latin American psychotherapists, the authors describe the psychological problems connected with the disappearance of relatives and the experience of imprisonment, torture and exile as well as the attempt to help patients with these problems by using a therapeutic approach which takes into account also cultural and historical factors. Having to deal with the psychological damage arising from political repression led many therapists to reflect upon the limits of the theoretical framework and to rethink traditional techniques of treatment.

1991, 25(4), 67–85

Niels Peter Nielsen & Salvatore Zizolfi, From earth to ash: Digressions on Adolf Eichmann’s Rorschach protocol (Dalla terra alla cenere: divagazioni sul protocollo Rorschach di Adolf Eichmann)

Abstract: The authors offer a psychological account of the personality of Adolf Eichmann, the main expert in the «Jewish question» who, with great efficacy, put into action Hitler’s and Himmler’s orders. Reviewing all the works and news related with Eichmann’s life, and reconsidering under a psychoanalytic point of view his Rorschach test made during the trial in Jerusalem, the authors show the perverse aspect of the personality of Eichmann, whose sadism, by virtue of his active participation to the project aimed at exterminating the Jewish people, could actualize itself without a direct involvement by part of the whole personality in its own violence. The authors suggest that the trial and the sentence which followed allowed Eichmann to bring his sadistic fantasies and his death instinct to an ultimate fulfilment.

1994, 28(4), 5–14

Michele Ranchetti, Observations on the nuclear holocaust (Osservazioni sull’olocausto nucleare)

Abstract: Retaking the point of view of thinkers like Anders and Jonas, the author reconsiders the history of a conscience which doesn’t want to take into account its own capacity of destruction, a history running underneath in the culture of these last fifty years; in it, resistances, misunderstandings and digressions prevail. Together with those authors, he wonders about the fate of a human kind endowed with the possibility to destroy itself, and proposes a new ethics, i. e., that of a new responsibility of man toward nature, that would entail a revolution in the order of ethics and perhaps the revival of a new philosophy.

1997, 31(2), 8–91

Manfred Pohlen, The roots of violence (Le radici della violenza)

Abstract: Psychoanalysis is not able to explain the violence present in contemporary society, and in particular the birth of the Nazi movement, because psychoanalysts did not approach the «religious question», which is the question of our time. In psychoanalytic terms, the religious question is that of the repressed passions, whose irreducible nature shows itself in the return of the repressed. The author then considers the nuclear biological family. He sees in it, because of the way in which it is structured, a mortal threat for the human society: the family becomes the place in which death drive and mortal violence are produced. It is therefore necessary to modify the human schema of socialization and to overcome the present condition of closure of the affective life.

1998, 32(3), 5–9

Pier Francesco Galli, The epidemic of normality (L’epidemia della normalità)


1999, 33(2), 5–30. Reprint: 2022, 56(2), 273–29

Paul Parin, Lies in times of peace. Attempt of a psychoanalytic and ethnological critique of «human rights» (Menzogne in tempo di pace. Tentativo di una critica psicoanalitica ed etnologica dei «diritti dell’uomo»)

Full-text in Italian:

Full-text in German:

Abstract: After some general considerations on the topic of human rights, an analysis of the problems highlighted by two disciplines, psychoanalysis and ethnology, is attempted. The psychoanalytic viewpoint helps to understand what are the psychological aspects that favor the respect or the violation of human rights; the ethnological viewpoint, instead, by comparing different cultures allows us to answer questions regarding the diversity of human rights in various social structures, their validity across different countries, and the eventual imposition or conditioning, also through the use of force, of rights other than those of a given culture. Discussing with Muhidin Šarić (author of the 1993 book Keraterm. Erinnerungen aus einem serbischen Lager [Keraterm. Memories from a Serbian concentration camp]. Preface by Paul Parin. Klagenfurt: Drava Verlag, 1994), Paul Parin tries to give an explanation of facts that are still unclear.

1999, 33(4), 109–123

Sergio Benvenuto, Conversation with Comelius Castoriadis (Conversazione con Comelius Castoriadis)


2004, 38(1), 11–19

Michele Ranchetti, Evil: Subject or adjective? (Male: soggetto o aggettivo?)

Abstract: Given the paucity of references to Evil in Freud’s works, the concept of Evil, as well as of Good, sin, salvation, etc., are absent in psychoanalytic universe. According to the Freudian project, in fact, these concepts have to be seen as provisional terms that show the passage from one culture to another, towards a «liberation» from some previous «idols», and not merely toward a type of therapy as today psychoanalysis is generally understood. One of the outcomes of this reductive process is institutionalization, and to this regard two examples are discussed in detail: the first is preach, which implies that the individual is pushed towards evil by an external force and hence asks another external force for salvation; the second is the way analysts present clinical cases, where the issue if not a search for values but analytic investigation per se.

2004, 38(1), 45–54

Marianna Bolko, The diagnosis of normality (La diagnosi di normalità)

Abstract: An overview of the concept of normality in psychoanalysis is presented, with the discussion, among other things, of the notions of Hartmann («average predictable environment»), Winnicott («good enough mother»), Gitelson (the selection of «normal» psychoanalytic candidates), Bollas («normotic» personality), and McDougall («normopathic» personality). Parin’s ethnopsychoanalytic approach («average changing environment») and the «adaptation mechanisms» he conceptualized («group ego», clan conscience, and role identification) are then presented in more detail. Finally, normality in adolescence is discussed, since this developmental stage is often seen as «not normal» given the stereotype of adolescence turmoil; to this regard, reference is made to the sociological research of «Yard-2000» and to the contributions by Offer and Jeammet.

2005, 39(2), 165–192

Giorgio Meneguz, On psychoanalytic interpretations of terrorism and suicide bombers (Note sull’interpretazione psicoanalitica del terrorismo e del fenomeno dei suicide bombers)

Abstract: According to common moralistic interpretations, terrorists are evil rascals fighting the Good, and terrorism itself is an expression of the force of Evil. Furthermore, experts in psychology and behavioral sciences have claimed that terrorists are mentally ill. However, available multidisciplinary analyses show a number of factors underlying terrorism, such as economical, political, religious, sociological, and possibly, if at all, psychological ones. Intriguingly, the questions coming up in the analysis of terrorism do neither regard the psychological profile of the terrorist nor the paranoid mental dynamics of terrorist groups. Rather, they touch upon the sociopolitical dynamics favoring the phenomenon, the political impact of the terrorist’s action and its role in a particular conflict. It is suggested, therefore, that the phenomenon of terrorism can neither be understood nor explained by psychological or biological determinants.

2007, 41(3), 365–366

Marianna Bolko, Paul Parin, Ursula Hauser, A kind of psychoanalysts near to extinction (Una specie in via di estinzione)

Abstract: Some psychoanalysts that today may be considered «near to extinction» – namely Paul Parin, Goldy Parin-Matthèy, and Marie Langer – are remembered: their lives, like the lives of other psychoanalysts of the past, have been characterized by a strong interest for politics and for the tie between psychoanalysis and society. Here four previously unpublished documents appear: the introduction by Marianna Bolko to a talk that Paul Parin gave at the «International Seminars of Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane» in Bologna (Italy) on April 17, 1998; Paul Parin’s opening remarks at that seminar; the short story «Brilliants take to flight», written by Paul Parin in 1998; and a memory of Marie Langer and Goldy Parin-Matthèy, read by Ursula Hauser a the 7th International Meeting of the International Association for the History of Psychoanalysis (London, July 16–18, 1998).

2010, 44(4), 439–460

Joel Whitebook, Psychoanalysis, religion, and the project of autonomy (Psicoanalisi, religione e progetto di autonomia)

Abstract: Freud’s cultural writings – concerning modernity, secularism, science, and religion – are often seen as unscientific speculations. But the questions explored in those works deserve serious attention. Just as fascism provided the historical context in which the critical theorists of the Frankfurt School developed a psychoanalytic social theory in the 1930s and 1940s, so the rise of fundamentalism demands a similar effort today. The «project of autonomy» conceptualized by Cornelius Castoriadis can be used to see psychoanalysis as part of the emancipatory movement of modernity, and to elucidate fundamentalism as an attempt to reinstate the values of premodern societies. Given Freud’s view of religion, it is time to formulate, using the work of Hans Loewald, a more sensitive psychoanalytic view of religion. Yet the legitimate desire to do justice to religion must not trump the need to advance the project of autonomy as a first priority.

2010, 44(4), 503–514

Paul Parin, Why psychoanalysts are so reluctant to take position on hot issues of their time. An ethnological perspective (Perché gli psicoanalisti sono tanto restii a prendere posizione sui problemi scottanti dei nostri tempi. Una prospettiva etnologica)

Abstract: Paul Parin (1916–2009) discusses the reasons why psychoanalysts are so reluctant, or uninterested, to take position on social issues or to utilize the psychoanalytic instrument also outside the clinical situation, such as in applied psychoanalysis (culture, society, religion etc.). In this paper Parin, who was also an ethnologist, sees psychoanalysts as an «ethnic group», and tries to understand the historical, sociological and psychological motivations that transformed psychoanalysis merely into a profession (almost as a medical specialty, at least in some Anglo-Saxon countries). The original identity of psychoanalysis, instead, was wider, as witnessed by Freud’s cultural writings. In this effort, Parin re-examines some aspects of the history of psychoanalytic movement and of the policies of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) concerning training, candidates’ selection, International meetings’ programs, relationship with medicine, and so on.

2013, 47(2), 162–400

Special Issue, edited by Alberto Burgio e Adriano Zamperini: «Identity of Evil. The construction of perfect violence» («Identità del male. La costruzione della violenza perfetta»):

Papers by: Alberto Burgio, Enzo Collotti, Paul Corner, Fabio Dei, Enrico Donaggio, Simona Forti, Marina Lalatta Costerbosa, Massimo La Torre, Marcella H. Ravenna, Giacomo Todeschini, Chiara Volpato, Adriano Zamperini.


2016, 50(3), 357–638

Special Issue for the 50th Anniversary of Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane: Where is Psychoanalysis Today? Twelve Questions (Numero speciale per il Cinquantesimo Anniversario di Psicoterapia e Scienze Umane: Cosa resta della psicoanalisi? Dodici domande)

The 12 questions: 1) Which aspects of psychoanalysis strike you as especially important, or that you would like to comment on? 2) Is there an author you find particularly important in psychoanalysis today and, if so, why? 3) What are the main characteristics of so-called «contemporary psychoanalysis», and when approximately do you think it begun? 4) What is your attitude toward the proliferation of psychoanalytic «schools»? 5) Psychoanalytic identity and psychotherapy: how would you set the problem? 6) Psychoanalytic training is surely an important and much debated issue. In the history of organized psychoanalysis, do you think that some aspects of training have changed? If there have been no major changes, do you think that some changes will be possible? Which changes would you welcome? 7) Does the concept of the Oedipus Complex still have meaning? If so, can you elaborate regarding the meaning it has? 8) What is left of Freudian dream theory and, in general, which role dreams play in the therapeutic process? 9) How do you see the relationship between psychoanalytic theory and outcome and process research? 10) How do you see the recent developments in neurosciences, and in general in neurobiology, vis-à-vis psychoanalysis? And what about the relationship between psychoanalysis and research in psychology and, in general, other disciplines? 11) Which central concepts and formulations have retained their validity? What is the evidence for them? 12) How do you understand the increasing marginalization of psychoanalysis?

Answers by: Massimo Ammaniti, Jacques André, Simona Argentieri, Marco Bacciagaluppi, Jessica R. Benjamin, Sergio Benvenuto, Werner Bohleber, Christopher Bollas, Philip M. Bromberg, Wilma Bucci, Fred Busch, Luigi Cancrini, Giacomo B. Contri, Mauricio Cortina, Heinrich Deserno, Antonio Di Ciaccia, Jack Drescher, Morris N. Eagle, Antonino Ferro, Anna Ferruta, Peter Fonagy, Allen Frances, Sophie Freud, Lawrence Friedman, Glen O. Gabbard, Roland Gori, Jay Greenberg, Pedro Grosz, Ita Grosz-Ganzoni, André Haynal, Bob Hinshelwood, Horst Kächele, Otto F. Kernberg, Marianne Leuzinger-Bohleber, Joseph D. Lichtenberg, Vittorio Lingiardi, Giovanni Liotti, George Makari, Nancy McWilliams, David Meghnagi, Silvio Merciai, Robert Michels, Emilio Modena, Francesco Napolitano, Thomas H. Ogden, Massimo Recalcati, Christa Rohde-Dachser, Berthold Rothschild, René Roussillon, Jeremy D. Safran, Dominique Scarfone, David Shapiro, Jonathan Shedler, George Silberschatz, Michael H. Stone, Frank J. Sulloway, Mary Target, Thomas von Salis, Paul L. Wachtel, Jerome C. Wakefield, David L. Wolitzky, Luigi Zoja

2019, 53(4), 593–598

Erich Fromm, The contribution of the social sciences to mental hygiene (Il contributo delle scienze sociali all’igiene mentale) (1951)

Abstract: In this contribution, presented at the Fourth International Congress on Mental Health organized in México City on December 11–19, 1951, and here translated in Italian for the first time, the issue of mental health conceived as passive adaptation to society is critically discussed. Human nature has unique and stable foundations that can be suffocated by the rules of a community that does not respect them; this process can produce either manifest psychological disorders or a latent, unconscious disturbance that manifests itself as a rigid conformism to the rules of society.

2020, 54(1), 9–16; 54(2), 259–280

Aurel Kolnai, Psychoanalysis and sociology (Psicoanalisi e sociologia) (1920), chapters 1–4

Full-text in German:

Full-text in English:

With interventions by Paolo Migone, Ulrich Wienand, Pier Francesco Galli

2020, 54(4), 571–584

Maria Luisa Mantovani, Maria Maffìa Russo, Gender violence: Strategies for recognition and prevention (La violenza di genere: elementi di conoscenza e strategie di contrasto)

Abstract: The actuality of gender violence is analyzed, with its interpretative categories. The focus is on the consequences of gender violence on women’s health, particularly at the psychological level. The World Health Organization has been very active in providing the relevant information in preventing violence and suggesting the «Ecological Model». The concept of «Intimate Partner Violence» (IPV) is particularly helpful in understanding and helping women who have been raped in intimate relationships. A reference point is the «cycle of violence» studied by Lenore E. A. Walker in 1984. The feminist movement played an important role in seeing gender violence as a social problem and in identifying its roots in the gender power gap on a social, cultural, economic and political level. In the 1980s, with the second wave feminist movement, Anti-Violence Centers were created.

2021, 55(1), 11–18

Dorothy E. Holmes, Culturally imposed trauma: The sleeping dog has awakened. Will psychoanalysis take heed? (Il trauma culturale: il can che dorme si è svegliato. La psicoanalisi gli presterà attenzione?)

Abstract: Psychoanalysis has given scant attention to cultural trauma. Three contributions to this deficiency are considered: (a) the continuing identification with our psychoanalytic fore- fathers’ silence regarding cultural trauma; (b) the authoritarian practices in psychoanalytic institutions that keep us overly focused on standard intrapsychic formulations to the near exclusion of cultural trauma; (c) the fact that work with cultural trauma is difficult. To do this work requires us to «buck the system». If we do so, we expose ourselves to toxic phenomena in a world still rife with cultural trauma. Psychoanalysts should be encouraged to face and analyze cultural traumas.

2021, 55(2), 205–226

Riccardo Marco Scognamiglio, The digital unconscious: The challenge of a clinical practice without subjects (L’inconscio digitale: la sfida di una clinica senza soggetti)

Abstract: We had just got used to thinking about our time in terms of «liquid modernity» (Bauman, 2000) and of «hypermodernity» (Lipovetsky, 2004), when the birth of the Internet 2.0 – in 2004 as well – projected us to a whole new era, radically resetting biopsychosocial patterns. New technologies deprive reality of its consistency, replacing it with social media’s virtual reality. In the world of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, the dimension of the unconscious is drifting more and more to a polarity far removed from symbolic coordinates, towards a body uninhabited by subjectivity and possessed by the occult mechanisms of the Web’s reward addiction. How is this dawn of the «post-human» (Braidotti, 2013) changing clinical psychology? Do digitally modified adolescents (and not only adolescents) challenge us to rethink clinical categories and treatment rationales?