OTTO RANK: ON HUMAN EVIL
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This study presents an overview and explication of Otto Rank's interpretation of the conceptual origin and psychological phenomenon of human evil as related to the human will and consciousness, as apparent in the evolution of civilization, and as manifest psychologically in the development of the individual human being. Attention is also devoted to the two primary intellectual influences of Rank's work in this area, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud. The implications of Rank's theoretical position on human evil are also discussed with regard to his ideas on the ethical and moral bases of psychological theory and psychotherapy.;Rank conceives of the origin of the concept of human evil as directly related to man's consciousness of the greatest evil phenomenon, that is, of his own natural death; he traces the ensuing development of self-condemnation by which man blames himself for death (e.g. the doctrine of original sin), the consequent guilt and the punitive self-prohibitions. Rank observed that it is necessary and natural for the human being to impose prohibitions upon himself, based on his inherent ethical capacities, in order to attempt achievement of an ideal balance between his opposing essential dual needs, the need to individuate and the need to unite. But he believed that the limits set socially and individually are too often too severe and self-destructive because of man's ideological judgment of himself as the source of primary evil. With qualified optimism, Rank believed in ameliorative change in the negative attitudes and related abusive behavior of human beings, beginning necessarily on an individual basis. Here his ideas take on particular value for psychologists and psychotherapists who investigate the complex facets of human nature and who are faced with individuals suffering from complex dissatisfaction with their personal human dilemma.;The reference in this study to the works of Nietzsche and Freud in terms of their respective roles as positive and oppositional stimuli for Rank's ideas has the dual purpose of elucidating the ideology of Rank's psychology and of illustrating Rank's concern that the value judgments of the investigator determine his conclusion of so-called psychological fact. Rank stressed the danger of the moral judgment of human evil in psychology with particular reference to the influential role of the psychotherapist. This study demonstrates Rank's concern with Freudian psychoanalysis which presented itself as objective but which Rank found replete with moral indictments of the human being as evil. In contrast, Rank's positive alliance with Nietzsche was based on his view that Nietzsche both detected the problem of morality in scientific psychology and attempted to expose the peril that this negative morality posed for man's positive development. Also discussed is Rank's reaction to the prevalent interpretation of the human will as evil, with respect to Nietzsche's rejection and Freud's acceptance of this interpretation.
Source: Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 41-04, Section: B, page: 1526.