Otto Rank Criticism - Essay

Trigant Burrow (review date February 1939)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The World as Will,” in Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 4, No. 2, February, 1939, pp. 162-73.

[In the following review, Burrow praises Rank's artistic approach to psychoanalysis despite the flaws he finds in Truth and Reality and Will Therapy.]


The task of the reviewer is a precarious one. As with any social rôle to which one conforms, the pattern of performance is laid down for him in advance, so that before he knows it he is already off to a bad start. In reviewing a work on psychiatry, or a work that deals with the ineptitudes of human behavior, it is particularly salutary that one's own reactions be subsumed...

(The entire section is 4889 words.)

Fay B. Karpf (essay date 1953)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “‘Art and Artist’—A Biographical Sketch,” in The Psychology and Psychotherapy of Otto Rank: An Historical and Comparative Introduction, Philosophical Library, 1953, pp. 3-17.

[In the following essay, Karpf discusses ways in which Rank deviated from the Freudian approach to psychoanalysis, focusing on Rank's emphasis on artistic creativity.]

Otto Rank was born in Vienna in 1884, the second of two sons in a comfortable middle-class family. His educational plans were originally directed toward an engineering career. But these plans were radically changed as a result of his first meeting with Freud. Recognizing an especially gifted student along...

(The entire section is 4685 words.)

Fay B. Karpf (essay date 1953)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Distinctive Aspects of Rank's Personality Theory1,” in The Psychology and Psychotherapy of Otto Rank: An Historical and Comparative Introduction, Philosophical Library, 1953, pp. 64-86.

[In the following essay, Karpf examines major differences in Rank's and Freud's terminologies used to discuss personality theory.]

Like all theory which developed as an offshoot of psychoanalytic doctrine, Rank's theory of personality appears upon the established background of psychoanalytic thought and is presented chiefly by contrast with and frequently criticism of the Freudian position. As in the case of other such developments, notably the theories of Jung...

(The entire section is 7722 words.)

Ernest Becker (essay date 1973)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Otto Rank and the Closure of Psychoanalysis on Kierkegaard,” in The Denial of Death, Free Press, 1973, pp. 159-75.

[In the following essay, Becker examines the evolution of Rank's ideas about the place of sexuality in psychoanalysis.]

It seems to be difficult for the individual to realize that there exists a division between one's spiritual and purely human needs, and that the satisfaction or fulfillment for each has to be found in different spheres. As a rule, we find the two aspects hopelessly confused in modern relationships, where one person is made the god-like judge over good and bad in the other person. In the long run, such...

(The entire section is 6285 words.)

David G. Winter (essay date 1975)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introduction to The Don Juan Legend by Otto Rank, edited and translated by David G. Winter, Princeton University Press, 1975, pp. 3-34.

[In the following essay, Winter providess background information on the Don Jaun Legend.]

Otto Rank was one of the most brilliant and imaginative, yet surely one of the most perplexing members of the group who were drawn to Freud and who participated in the early development of psychoanalysis. Rank analyzed myth and legend with an insight and a facility that approached that of the master; his energy and resourcefulness were essential to the survival of the early psychoanalytic publishing ventures; his wide reading and...

(The entire section is 9014 words.)

Esther Menaker (essay date 1976)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Creativity as the Central Concept in the Psychology of Otto Rank,” in Psychoanalysis, Creativity, and Literature: A French-American Inquiry, edited by Alan Roland, Columbia University Press, 1978, pp. 162-77.

[In the following essay, originally published in 1976, Menaker argues that Rank's own struggle to cultivate his creative personality led to his emphasis in his work on artistic ingenuity.]

It is unfortunate, yet probably inevitable, that Otto Rank, to the extent that he is known at all, is known primarily as a dissenter from Freudian psychoanalysis, and that his name is associated chiefly with his much misunderstood book, The Trauma of Birth....

(The entire section is 6803 words.)

Robert D. Stolorow and George E. Atwood (essay date 1979)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Otto Rank,” in Faces in a Cloud: Subjectivity in Personality Theory, Jason Aronson, 1979, pp. 132-71.

[In the following essay, Stolorow and Atwood examine Rank's theories on narcissism in psychoanalysis and the ways in which his work in this area prefigured later trends in the field.]

In recent years the problem of narcissism has increasingly moved into the limelight of psychoanalytic investigation. This is evidenced, for example, by the large number of articles on the subject appearing in psychoanalytic publications, and by the fact that in a recent poll Kohut's (1971) work on narcissism was rated among the most meaningful contributions to contemporary...

(The entire section is 12942 words.)

Esther Menaker (essay date 1982)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Rank and Contemporary Social and Psychoanalytic Thought,” in Otto Rank: A Rediscovered Legacy, Columbia University Press, 1982, pp. 120-36.

[In the following essay, Menaker examines Rank's role in contemporary studies.]

Rank's profound philosophical intuition about the totality of human life, about man's dilemma over living with the consciousness of his mortality supersedes his psychology and his therapy. That intuition makes him, a man of our time—perhaps of all time. As the title of his last, posthumously published book, Beyond Psychology, suggests, he enlarged the framework of his concerns to include the very nature of...

(The entire section is 6676 words.)

Stephen Watt (essay date Fall 1986)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “O'Neill and Otto Rank: Doubles, ‘Death Instincts,’ and the Trauma of Birth,” in Comparative Drama, Vol. 20, No. 3, Fall, 1986, pp. 211-30.

[In the following essay, Watt discusses Rank's version of psychoanalysis in relation to the dramas of Eugene O'Neill.]

“You were born afraid.”

Mary Tyrone to Edmund

“But he's dead now [Major Melody].
And I ain't tired a bit. I'm fresh
as a man new born.”

Con Melody

“She loves me. I'm not afraid! …
She is warmly around me! She is my
skin! She is my armor! Now I am
born—I—the I!—one and indivisible.”


(The entire section is 8003 words.)

Gerry Brenner (essay date Spring 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Song of Solomon: Morrison's Rejection of Rank's Monomyth and Feminism,” in Studies in American Fiction, Vol. 15, No. 1, Spring, 1987, pp. 13-24.

[In the following essay, Brenner examines ways in which Toni Morrison rejected the sexism in Rank's hero myth.]

Around Milkman, the hero of her much-admired Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison wraps various collective fictions: a riddling nursery rhyme that presages his birth and, later chanted by children, leads him to discover his heritage; fables, like the one his father, Macon Dead, tells of the man who rescues a baby snake only to be poisoned to death by its bite; fairytales, like...

(The entire section is 5467 words.)

Peter L. Rudnytsky (essay date 1992)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An introductory essay to The Incest Theme in Literature and Legend: Fundamentals of a Psychology of Literary Creation by Otto Rank, translated by Gregory C. Richter, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992, pp. xi-xxxv.

[In the following essay, Rudnytsky presents an overview of Rank's writings on the incest theme.]

The first three meetings of the Psychological Wednesday Society for which minutes are extant took place on October 10, October 17, and October 24, 1906. Viennese physicians and other intellectuals interested in Freud's ideas had begun gathering for weekly discussions in his apartment at Berggasse 19 as early as 1902, but not until 1906, with Otto...

(The entire section is 10909 words.)

Robert Kramer (essay date Fall 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Birth of Client-Centered Therapy: Carl Rogers, Otto Rank, and ‘The Beyond’,” in Journal of Humanistic Psychology, Vol. 35, No. 4, Fall, 1995, pp. 54-110.

[In the following essay, Kramer presents a professional analysis of Rank's importance in the formation of psychoanalysis.]

Carl Rogers always acknowledged that the thought of Otto Rank inspired him more than any other, early on, when he was still doing therapy in the old-fashioned “directive” way. Scholars duly note a link between Rank and Rogers, usually with a perfunctory nod to one or another of Rank's ideas, such as “will” or “relationship therapy” (Gendlin, 1988; Raskin, 1948;...

(The entire section is 22246 words.)

Robert Kramer (essay date 1996)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Insight and Blindness: Visions of Rank,” in A Psychology of Difference: The American Lectures by Otto Rank, edited by Robert Kramer, Princeton University Press, 1996, pp. 3-47.

[In the following essay, Kramer surveys Rank's career, including his shortcomings and his legacy to his field.]

At heart a poet and writer, Otto Rank took great pleasure in giving literary gifts to his beloved Professor, a past master of the German language. On May 6, 1923, as a gift for Freud's sixty-seventh birthday, Rank presented the father of psychoanalysis with his dreamy new manuscript, completed just days before: Das Trauma der Geburt. The manuscript was drawn from a...

(The entire section is 20249 words.)