As it spread across Italy, psychoanalysis captured the interest of Italian psychologists, namely Vittorio Benussi (1878-1927) and Cesare Musatti (1897-1989). Benussi, who was trained as an experimental psychologist according to the Gegenstandstheorie School of Graz in 1919, came to Italy and became a full professor of experimental psychology in Padua. He undertook a program of study called “psychological reality” that comprised hypnosuggestion and psychoanalysis. This article shows that Benussi’s hypnosuggestion experiments and Musatti’s theorization of the reality of fantasy were attempts to upgrade the study of psychological phenomena to the level of physical phenomena in a theoretical context in which psychoanalysis was considered part of a general psychology.
history of psychoanalysis; Italy; phenomenology; hypnosuggestion; Gegenstandstheorie