chapter  17
20 Pages

`The sacredness of love' or `Relationship as third, as religion': Otto Gross's concepts of relationship today


In this chapter, I want to focus on three different themes to demonstrate the continuing relevance of the early psychoanalyst Otto Gross (1877±1920) that reverberates through a number of disciplines. Some 90 years after his death, his ideas prove to be topical in a way that continues to point way beyond present-day concerns towards an as-yet-to-be-realised future. I shall start from thoughts that constitute the central core of his work: his concept of relationship. Already in 1929 the writer Franz Werfel, one of Gross's close friends, had written of Gross that, ` ``relationship'' was the central focus of his teachings for renewing the world' (Werfel 1990: 347). It is indeed particularly in this area that Gross goes way beyond modernity and post-modernity towards revolutionising both individual as well as collective ± political ± ways of understanding relating. I shall link these ideas of Gross to cutting-edge discoveries in three realms: ®rst, neurobiology and research into human behavioural as well as maturational processes; second, an unusual understanding ± albeit not entirely new ± of political justice; and third, philosophical-analytical theories of relating. Around the time of the recent Millennium completely new concepts and ideas were formulated which both fundamentally verify some of Gross's concepts, and, of course, take them further. Although in each instance this has happened without any direct reference to Gross, there exist nevertheless important links, as I shall demonstrate ± just as there are rivers that, for stretches, ¯ow underground before unexpectedly emerging again above ground and nevertheless may be sharing the same source.