Psychoanalytic Quarterly, LXXI, January 2002
This issue marks the first change in the editorship of the Quarterly in ten years. Owen Renik has served for a longer term than any editor since 1960. He has brought to the job his inimitable energy and flair, and a commitment to contemporary psychoanalysis that has extended the range of articles and subscribers, both here and abroad. Working behind the scenes, he has restructured the production of the Quarterly in such a way that we have a solid financial future for the first time in a number of years. More personally, his generosity in allowing me to oversee the selection of papers from the beginning of my tenure as Editor-Elect, is, to my knowledge, unprecedented. I am very grateful for his friendship and his guidance. We are all the beneficiaries of his tenure in office.
This issue also marks the seventieth anniversary of the founding of the Quarterly, the oldest psychoanalytic journal in North America. I am indebted to Warren Poland for pointing out the unusual circumstances of its origin.
In the inaugural issue of 1932, the editors, Dorian Feiganbaum, Bertram Lewin, Frankwood Williams, and Gregory Zilboorg, described their mission:
They then concluded their brief introduction with the following:
"An episode in the history of the foundation of the Quarterly may be of interest to our readers. It is to some extent the outcome of a misunderstanding on the part of Professor Freud. Two years ago, Professor Freud wrote a preface to a special psychoanalytic number of a medical monthly edited by one of us, under the impression that it was the inaugural issue of a new psychoanalytic publication. When he learned of the real situation, he was somewhat disappointed. This mistake, which we interpreted as the expression of a wish indicating the need for such an organ, activated latent thoughts in this direction and finally led to the organization of this periodical."
The lead article in that first issue was Freud’s “Libidinal Types,” which had appeared in German the previous year. It was one of three articles from the “Professor” published in the Quarterly that first year. The authorized translations by Edith B. Jackson are remarkably lively.
Much has changed since 1932, but our principal editorial goals, updated for the contemporary psychoanalytic climate, remain as they were: to encourage and publish the best papers available from all psychoanalytic perspectives, adult and child, in North America and abroad, covering the theories, practices, research endeavors, and applications of analysis. We hope you will participate in this project by letting us know your wishes and opinions, and by submitting papers that both extend and take issue with what appears in our pages.
A final note. One of the articles Freud contributed to the Quarterly that first year was “The Acquisition of Fire,” in which he interweaves the myths of Prometheus and Herakles to emphasize the power of the passions and their potential for both good and evil. As punishment for stealing the control of fire from the gods, Prometheus is chained to a cliff, his liver picked apart daily by a vulture and restored again each night. Herakles slays the bird that preys on Prometheus’s liver. In Freud’s view, “It is as if the deed of the one hero made amends for the other. Prometheus…had prohibited the extinction of fire; Herakles licensed its extinction in case the fire became a menacing evil” (p. 214-215). No less prophetic of what was about to engulf Europe than of the devastation by fire we have just witnessed in New York, Freud’s words remind us of how much we have yet to learn about both the destructive power of the passions and the remarkable capacity for regeneration of the human spirit.