J Am Acad Psychoanal Dyn Psychiatry 2008;36(4):677-706
Do changes in psychoanalytic technique represent progress in knowledge or are they for the most part a sideways movement in tune with the particular changes in the socioeconomic milieu of the day? Hegel raised the question in the area of philosophy when discussing the stages in the development of self-consciousness. For him this was an inevitable development toward a greater and greater self-understanding, going through various phases until Absolute Spirit (Mind) became completely cognizant of itself. This metaphysical conception was the cornerstone of Hegel's thought as first presented in his chaotic masterpiece, Phenomenology of Spirit. In this article I will examine his philosophical vision as expressed in that masterpiece, compare it with that of Freud, and discuss aspects of it that are pertinent to the practice of contemporary psychoanalysis.