Otto Rank – Welcome to this website!

Here you can read about psychoanalyst Otto Rank (1884 – 1939), and particularly about how his work was influenced by Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and Kant.

Rank considered that the human being has a will to live that is given, together with existence itself, and which manifests itself as affirmation and expansion of life. But this runs up against the stumbling block of the decay of the body and physical death. It follows, then, that affirmation of life will express itself, in relation to symbolic systems and culture, as creation of everything that is tied to affirmation and expansion, principally of the subjective life. Thus this affirmation of life is translated into the creation of personality and culture. This won’t be a childish illusion that death doesn’t exist, but rather the creation of values that may, through affirmation of the personality, redeem that which cannot be redeemed in the body, because of its inevitable decay. There will, therefore, be an emphasis on what leads an individual to “be more” in that which is specifically human. With his or her autonomy, responsibility and moral conscience, this extrapolates biological determinism. It won’t be a conformity with the bourgeois world order or the norms of the social power structures of any age, because the values of affirmation of life, which are the true human values, lie in what transcends rational comprehension, in what is irrational, unconditional and unknowable will. Paradoxically, this will is the moral and spiritual reservoir for the continually renewed protection of the person and his or her values – which are necessary for the affirmation of the dignity of one’s life. This assertiveness needs to occur in counterpoint to the rationality of the structures of power and domination, which always seek to weaken the will, through a supposedly rational guilt. Thus the ethic of life transcends the rationality of each epoch and each society, and of their contingent norms.