Psychoanalysis in Post-Revolutionary Russia (1920–1930s)

Shilkina I.S.


The article presents the history of psychoanalysis in Soviet Russia in 1920– 1930 s, from the study and attempts to mix Marxism with Freudianism to the absolute prohibition of the latter. The interest in the recent trends of Western European psychology was a unique reaction to the establishment of the social and spiritual revival of Russia, the construction of a new society and the creation of a radically new man. It was during this period that many translations of papers by foreign psychologists appeared in Russian. Soviet scientists took an active part in international conferences. Contacts with Western scientists were maintained. However, the growing ideological pressure subsequently led to the elimination of many scientific fields, including psychoanalysis. The history of psychoanalysis in post-revolutionary Russia reflects all the cataclysms of the period. Initially, the revolutionary ideas of Freud were in tune with the spirit of the times. Psychoanalysis began to take a socio-political dimension. The idea of a synthesis of Freudianism and Marxism arose among psychologists, creating a full-scale scientific debate. Even Trotsky was fascinated by this idea. Psychoanalytic clubs and schools were created all over the country. Psychoanalytic methods were actively exercised. The Russian Psychoanalytic Society was founded, and the State Psychoanalytic Institute was established. The Children’s Home – Psychoanalytic Laboratory, the first of its kind in the world, was founded in Moscow. In the 1930 s, the scientific research and practical application of psychoanalysis was banned as an idealistic bourgeois theory incompatible with the Marxist-Leninist teaching. The perception of Freud and his followers changed dramatically. Articles condemning Freudianism began to appear. Thus the history of psychoanalysis in the USSR became a part of the repressive mechanism of Soviet ideology. Psychoanalysis was rehabilitated only in the 1990 s on the basis of a presidential decree.


Soviet psychology; psychoanalysis; Freudianism; Freudo-Marxism; Psychoanalytic Society; The Children’s Home-Psychoanalytic Laboratory.

DOI: 10.31249/rsm/2019.03.06

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