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Adam Smith and dependency

Psychoanalytic Review 99(3): 333-358

Adam Smith and dependency

The focus of this paper is the works and life of Adam Smith, who is widely recognized as the father and founder of contemporary economics. Latent content analysis is applied to his seminal text in economics, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776). The results reveal that Smith considers dependence on others a problem and sees the solution to this problem in impersonalized interdependence. In addition, his views on social dependency and personal dependency, reflected in his Lectures on Jurisprudence (1963) and The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759), are analyzed. This analysis suggests a central tension between dependence and independence in Smith's writings. The personal dependency patterns he exhibited in his life, which also suggest a tension between dependence and independence, are identified through a reading of his biographies. Based on insights from psychoanalytic literature, this paper proposes that developing the ideas in the Wealth of Nations was part of Smith's creative solution to this tension. In particular, his solution to one individual's dependence on another was through a system of impersonalized interdependence. In other words, Smith defended against his personal dependence through his economic theorizing.

Accession: 051366964

PMID: 22712591

DOI: 10.1521/prev.2012.99.3.333

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