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Darwin's Illness$
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Ralph Colp Jr.

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032313

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032313.001.0001

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Psychoanalytic Theories

Psychoanalytic Theories

(p.139) 19 Psychoanalytic Theories
Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

University Press of Florida

Dr. Edward Kempf's explanations and diagnosis of Charles Darwin need more evidence and discussion. A succession of psychoanalytically-oriented psychiatrists then argued that Darwin felt hostility for his father. Douglas Hubble contended that Darwin needed to deny the occasion when his father rebuked him for being idle and predicted that he would become a “disgrace” to himself and his family. Dr. Rankine Good pictured a direct struggle of a son revolting from his father. In 1963, Phyllis Greenacre wrote that Darwin had an “unusual capacity for neurotic denial”, and that it was his need to deny his paternal aggression which contributed to his illness. Following the appearance of the views of Hubble, Good, and Greenacre, with their emphasis on Darwin's paternal hostility, several individuals questioned the validity of these views by putting them into a larger perspective. In 1990, John Bowlby, in his biography of Darwin, delineated two kinds of father–son interactions. Bowlby's view that Darwin sometimes doubted his father's good opinion of his work seems more plausible than the view that he had conscious and unconscious paternal hostility.

Keywords:   Charles Darwin, Dr. Edward Kempf, Dr. Rankine Good, Phyllis Greenacre, paternal hostility, John Bowlby, psychoanalytic theories

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