ESCAPING THE DARK SIDE OF CURIOSITY

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Abstract

Curiosity as a clinical entity has been a neglected subject in the psychoanalytic literature. Freud never addressed the issue of curiosity systematically. His interest was in trying to account for children's sexual questioning. Nevertheless, hinderance to internal curiosity—this is to say, that which intimidates and abates the appetite for an exploration of one's motives—is part and parcel of psychoanalytic inquiry. And, arguably, there is no greater clinical challenge for the analyst than trying to treat an analysand who appears to lack an interest in the underlying causes of his unhappiness. The problem of impeded self-inquiry is usually exacerbated in people with more serious emotional disturbances. My position here is that in studying the conditions that mitigate against curiosity in a seriously disturbed patient, we gain access to an enlarged version of the curiosity problems of our less disturbed patients. Here I interpret my clinical impressions about problems with curiosity with ideas from the writings of Martin Buber and Albert Camus.

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