Some Problems of Reification in Existential Psychiatry: Conceptual and Practical Considerations

  • Frank A. Johnson


The problems connected with unintentional reification of the concept of alienation within sociology have been addressed by Israel, Feuer, Gouldner and McDermott. Feuer (1963), in a thoughtful analysis of the use of the concept, is led to the conclusion that while alienation (as a condition) is ubiquitous, attempts by sociologists to operationalize its various meanings have been largely unsuccessful. He adds that the preoccupation with the subject in sociology and other fields carries along an implicit presupposition — namely that the cultural., social., and economic systems which have produced widespread alienation are accepted as givens. Therefore, much of the research (and rhetoric) regarding alienation is directed at the identification and alleviation of symptoms, rather than at the basic sickness (in Feuer’s terms, the disease of Technicism and the need for ‘basic economic reconstruction’). He asks this interesting question:

‘Is “alienation”, however, a useful concept for analysis of these modes of human unhappi-ness and frustration? Is it more than a dramatic metaphor which for reasons peculiar to intellectuals’ experience has become their favorite root-metaphor for perceiving the social universe? Is it less, however, a tool for understanding than a projection of the psychology of intellectuals disenchanted with themselves?’ (Feuer, 1963, p. 138).


Basic Book Negative Connotation Phenomenological Method Treatment Situation Pure Consciousness 
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Copyright information

© H. E. Stenfert Kroese bv, Leiden 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Frank A. Johnson
    • 1
  1. 1.State University of New YorkSyracuseUSA

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