The Larger World of Psychoanalysis
The first World War opened the eyes of official medicine to the value of the psychoanalytic idea. While the medical profession still was careful to keep its distance, it came at last, through the observation of war neuroses, to a recognition of the significance of psychic factors in producing neurotic disturbances. Some of the psychoanalytic conceptions, such as “the advantage of being ill” and the “flight into illness,” suddenly became popular. While the great majority of doctors and psychiatrists were still either hesitant or hostile to psychoanalysis, a number of scientists of high standing and of famous men of letters treated it with increasing respect. Most significantly, and, to Freud’s mind, most regrettably—that part of the post-war world represented by the avant-garde intellectuals and their hangers-on among the rich and frivolous began to seize upon psychoanalysis and the most convenient of its tenets as a philosophical justification for sexual license. Among these sensation-seekers, psychoanalysis became a fad.