IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis



AMAE....................................................................................................................................... 2 CONFLICT ............................................................................................................................ 14 CONTAINMENT: CONTAINER-CONTAINED.............................................................. 66 COUNTERTRANSFERENCE ............................................................................................ 79 ENACTMENT ..................................................................................................................... 109 INTERSUBJECTIVITY..................................................................................................... 129 NACHTRÄGLICHKEIT.................................................................................................... 205 OBJECT RELATIONS THEORIES (ORT) .................................................................... 240 SELF ..................................................................................................................................... 323 SETTING, (THE PSYCHOANALYTIC) ......................................................................... 398 THEORY OF COMMUNICATION OF DAVID LIBERMAN...................................... 419 TRANSFERENCE .............................................................................................................. 431 THE UNCONSCIOUS ........................................................................................................ 483

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AMAE Tri-Regional Entry

Inter-Regional Consultants: Takayuki Kinugasa (North America), Elias M. da Rocha Barros (Latin America) and Arne Jemstedt (Europe) Inter-Regional Coordinating Co-Chair: Eva D. Papiasvili (North America)


Amae is a Japanese word in common daily usage. It is a noun form of amaeru, a verb. Both derive from an adjective, amai, which means “sweet taste.” Amaeru is a combination of a verb, eru , which means “get” or “obtain” and amai. Thus, the original meaning of amaeru is literally to obtain sweetness. In common usage, amaeru refers to behaving in a childlike, dependent fashion to elicit indulgence, to obtain what is desired: be it affection, physical closeness, emotional or actual support, or granting of a request. It is a behavior of an appeal to be indulged, and presumes a degree of familial or intimate closeness. Typically, an infant or child might engage a maternal figure or caretaker in a sweetly dependent manner to get his/her wishes granted. Amae and amaeru behaviors are seen outside of the familial environment and beyond childhood in Japanese interpersonal interactions. This might occur in close personal friendships, the intimacy of a couple relationship, the extended family, or within cohesive small groups such as classmates or teammates. It is also seen in relationships where power or status differentials exist such as teacher/student, boss/subordinate, or senior/junior colleagues. Depending on the interpersonal circumstances, the amae phenomenon is widely accepted as a signifier of the strength and soundness of a relationship on the one hand, but on the other hand, it can be perceived negatively as an indication of the person’s immaturity, self-indulgence, sense of entitlement, or lack of social awareness and common sense. In the North American Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychoanalysis, Salman Akhtar (2009) defines Amae as a “Japanese term, which denotes an intermittent, recurring, culturally patterned interaction, in which the ordinary rules of propriety and formality are suspended, allowing people to receive and give affectionate ego support to each other” (p. 12). This definition builds on Takeo Doi’s (1971/73) definition of the term, which is further expanded on within the ego psychological terminology by Daniel Freeman (1998), to be an “interactive mutual regression in the service of the ego, which gratifies and serves the progressive intrapsychic growth and development of both participants” (Freeman, 1998, p.47). The editors of the Japanese Dictionary of Psychoanalysis (Okonogi, K, Kitayama, O, Ushijima, S, Kano, R, Kinugasa et al., 2002) also build on Doi’s definition and point to the complexities of preverbally rooted emotional dependence contained in the dynamic underpinnings of amae.


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No known dictionary or glossary in any of the IPA languages in Europe and Latin America carries amae and the term has remained largely unknown until now to the wider psychoanalytic public. This entry builds and expands on all the above sources.


As a psychological phenomenon, the concept of amae was introduced and emphasized by Takeo Doi in his 1971 publication “The Anatomy of Dependence,” which was translated in 1973 for Western audiences. He described a variety of amae behaviors in Japanese social and clinical interactions, and advanced the idea of the essential importance of the concept of amae in understanding Japanese psychology. He translated amae as ‘dependence or emotional dependence’ (1973) and defined amaeru to mean, ‘to depend and presume upon another’s benevolence’ (1973). He considers it to indicate ‘helplessness and the desire to be loved’ and the expression of the ‘need to be loved,’ and sees it as equivalent to dependency needs. He sees its prototype in the psychology of the infant in relationship to the mother, not a newborn infant, but the infant who has already realized that its mother exists independently of itself (Doi, 1973). In his later publication, Doi (1989) extends the dynamic formulation of amae: “Another important thing about the concept of amae is that though it primarily indicates a content state of mind when one's need for love is reciprocated by another's love, it may also refer to that very need for love because one cannot always count on another's love, much as one would wish to do so. Hence it follows that the state of frustration in amae, the various phases of which can be described by a number of Japanese words, may also be referred to as amae and in fact it often is so called, since obviously amae is more keenly felt as a desire in frustration than in fulfillment. It is related to this usage that we can talk of two kinds of amae , a primitive one which is sure of a willing recipient and a convoluted one which is not sure if there is such a recipient. The former kind is childlike, innocent and restful: the latter is childish, willful and demanding: to put it simply, good and bad amae , so to speak…” (Doi, 1989, p. 349). Doi’s assertion that amae , i.e. emotional dependency, distinguishes Japanese psychology in essential and unique ways was met by both enthusiastic acceptance and skeptical criticism. It spawned debates such as: In what specific way should Japanese psychology be seen? Does Doi propose that the Japanese character is essentially dependent? How does the concept of amae relate to existing psychological and psychoanalytic theories and practices? How does amae relate to the understanding of universal human development? How does the concept of amae contribute to specific new developments in the theory and practice of psychoanalytic understanding?


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Erik Erikson (1950) described how varied and specific societal and cultural influences result in different modes of adaptation during the process of human psychological growth and development. He expanded on Freud’s biologically based psychosexual developmental stages to include psychosocial stages of human development beyond oedipal resolution, extending them over the life cycle. Doi’s concept of amae and its significance in understanding the specific nature of Japanese psychology can also be appraised in this context. Many social scientists and cross-cultural observers have noted the particularity of Japanese society and Japanese psychological adaptations. Doi’s concept of amae adds another dimension to this discourse. A few important characteristics noted as specific to Japanese society and culture include: 1. Hierarchically organized social relationships; 2. Group orientation over individual distinction; 3. Separation of private and public, inner and outside relationships in thoughts, feelings and conduct; 4. Emphasis on shame (generated by outside judgment) and guilt (expression of internal judgment); 5. Avoidance of conflict and the value of harmony; 6. Indulgent, responsive and permissive parental style during infancy and early childhood, followed by increasingly stringent social role assignment and behavioral control in later years. Widely recognized and keenly observed by cultural anthropologists such as Ruth Benedict (1946) and the historian Edwin O. Reischauer (1977), and articulated further by Chie Nakane, the best-known Japanese anthropologist outside Japan (1970), the vertical hierarchical nature of most Japanese relationships is omnipresent. Related to and intertwined with it, the characteristics cited above are the cultural and psychological echo of four centuries of a feudal system of rigid political and socio-economic class stratification. Modernization with the influence of the West started in the late 19 th Century and accelerated after World War II with the new democratic government institutions and many societal changes in political, economic and technological public life. However, traditional cultural values and characteristics endure in contemporary Japanese life as psychological undercurrents. Reischauer (1977) notes the Japanese adaptive capacity for change and recognizes much human commonality between the East and the West. Dean C. Barnlund (1975), in his comparative cultural analysis of U.S. and Japanese adhesiveness of core cultural values transmitted as normative in a society, refers to amae as a representative of the “cultural unconscious.”


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Crucial in understanding amae from this perspective is the child-rearing practice that provides constant physical closeness, indulgence, responsiveness, keenly empathetic maternal care, and the availability of other caregivers around the child. Because of the limited space of island life, the propinquity of other people and the necessity to live side by side is a condition of life in Japan. Not only the extended family, but also neighbors and the surrounding community are introduced to a child very early on. Any adult in the vicinity is called oji-san , uncle, or oba-san , aunt, and older children are referred to onei-san , elder sister, or onii-san , elder brother. They constitute potential caregivers in a child’s life, promoting a sense of safety in belonging to the group. Alan Roland (1991) strongly contrasted the concept of the “familial self” predominant in the Japanese psyche, which is rooted in the subtle emotional hierarchical relationships of the family and group, with the Western “individualized self.” Reischauer (1977) observes that the Japanese are not quite as attached to the family as such but more to surrounding groups. This might suggest a “group self” in the sense that a child very early on identifies and internalizes his place in a group. Illustrative of this dynamic is a Japanese traditional ritual celebration called Hichi-Go- San . Children of the ages 2 to 3, 4 to 5, and 6 to 7 are celebrated in traditional costumes and taken to the local shrine in the local community. They are given sweets and toys as gifts in a collective celebration of a passage of childhood.


As noted earlier, while in many ways accurate and insightful in demonstrating the particular phenomenon of amae in Japanese people and clinical interactions, Doi’s first definition of the concept of amae (1973) as a “dependency need in helplessness” and “desire to be loved” triggered a number of theoretical and clinical debates. Developmentally, amae precedes a child’s acquisition of language. For example, the Japanese say of an infant who actively expresses his/her desires for mother: “This child is already so emotionally dependent ( amaeru )”. When the infant continues to experience the desire for his mother’s presence, this emotional configuration becomes positioned at the core of his/her emotional life consciously and unconsciously. This can be compared to what Freud stated about the concept of “sexuality,” exclusive to psychoanalysis. “We use the word sexualität [‘sexuality’] in the same comprehensive sense as that in which the German language uses the word lieben [‘to love’]” (Freud, 1910). In this sense, the Japanese think of the Oedipus complex where love and sex are intertwined even though there are no words that correspond to lieben or love in the Japanese language. Analogically, it can be understood that “ amae ” has formed the main stream of emotional life throughout our lives before the Oedipus complex, even in a world outside of Japan, where the word “ amae ” does not yet exist. While amae is a verbal concept like love, however, unlike love, it is characterized by the fact that it does not contain “sexuality” by itself. Additionally, there are indications that the elements of amae are contained in various psychic


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states underlined by ambivalence. If that is the case, it may be useful to compare amae to various known psychoanalytic concepts. Freud stated that there were two currents of love: the affectionate current and the sensual one. “The affectionate current is the older of the two. It springs from the earliest years of childhood; it is formed on the basis of the interests of the self-preservative instinct and is directed to the members of the family and those who look after the child...” (Freud, 1912, p. 180). This corresponds to the self-preservative, instinctual underpinnings of amae . The affectionate current stemming from it was later absorbed into the concept of narcissism (Freud, 1914). Here Freud wrote that although primary narcissism cannot be confirmed by direct observation, it can be gleaned from “the attitude of affectionate parents towards children […] that it is a revival and reproduction of their own narcissism, which they have long since abandoned” (Freud, 1914, pp. 90, 91). While Freud (1930) later abolished his conception of the self-preservative instinct and reached the conclusion that affection was a manifestation of Eros (sexual drive) whose original aim is repressed, Doi proposed that amae corresponded to the self-preservative instinct according to Freud’s early theory of instinct and defined amae as instinctually derived dependency need. In addition, Freud (1921) saw identification as the earliest expression of an emotional tie with another person, which is ambivalent from the very first. So defined, Freud’s identification may correspond to amae’s underlying identificatory and ambivalent properties. Elaborating on the concept further within the object relational matrix, Doi (1989, p.350) reiterated that amae is object-relational from the beginning. While it may not quite correspond to Freud’s concept of primary narcissism, it “fits very well with whatever state of mind may be called narcissistic” (ibid, p.350). In this sense, amae’s narcissistic properties underlie “convoluted” amae which expresses itself by being childish, willful and demanding. “In the same vein”, Doi (1989) writes (1989), “a new concept of self-object defined by Kohut as 'those archaic objects cathected with narcissistic libido' (1971, p. 3) will be much easier to comprehend in the light of amae psychology, since 'the narcissistic libido' is none other than convoluted amae ” (Doi, 1989, p. 351). In this vein, Japanese analysts see Kohut’s concept of ‘self-object needs’ (Kohut, 1971) as nearly equivalent to amae . Also, Balint's observation that “in the final phase of the treatment patients begin to give expression to long-forgotten, infantile, instinctual wishes, and to demand their gratification from their environment” (Balint, 1936/1965, p.181) may be relevant, because “the primitive amae will manifest itself only after narcissistic defenses are worked through by analysis” (Doi, 1989; p. 350). Building on both Freud and Ferenczi, Balint’s (1936/1965) ideas about ‘passive object love’ and primary love are conceptually closest to “ amae .” He reflected that Indo-European languages do not clearly distinguish between the two kinds of object-love, active and passive. While the aim is always primarily passive (to be loved), if there is enough love and acceptance of the child coming from the environment to mitigate frustrations, the child may progress into the active ‘giving love’ in order to receive it (configuration of ‘active object love’). In clinical terms, there is a link between primitive amae and Balint’s term ‘benign regression’ and between convoluted amae and his term ‘malignant regression’.


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Although Fairbairn (1952) valued the fact of dependence in early development in general, he did not adopt the idea of dependency needs within his object relations system. Klein’s concepts of envy ( higami /jaundice) and projective identification (1957) can be seen as a distorted amae , while sharing the same object with it. Many Japanese analysts see Bion (1961) as having ‘predicted’ Doi’s amae, within the context of group dynamics, when he postulated a feeling of security as existing in each of the emotional states associated with the three basic-assumption group fantasies: dependence, fight-flight, and pairing. Likewise, Bion’s concepts of “container” and “contained,” as well as Winnicott’s ‘holding’, Hartmann’s ‘good fit’, and Stern’s ‘inter-affectivity’ reflect underlying conceptual similarity with amae, while reflecting from different perspectives on the infant’s pre-adapted dependency on the parent , clinically relevant for the transference-countertransference inter-subjective matrix within the psychoanalytic process.


From a developmental dynamic perspective, it is important to highlight that Doi (1971) sees the origin of amae to lie in the infant’s relationship to its mother, not as a newborn but when it realizes its independent existence and sees the mother as the indispensable source for gratification. This suggests that amae arises in a developmental stage when the differentiation of ego, such as cognition, judgment and identification are already in place and object constancy exists. It implies that Mahler’s (1975) separation-individuation phase of development is in progress, after the symbiotic phase and practicing sub-phase have been successfully negotiated. The mother exists as a separate being and her benevolent indulgent delight in the child has been internalized. If this is the case, the psychic structure of superego, too, is in the process of emerging. Prevailing Japanese child-rearing practices seem to support this view. Abundant maternal attention with non-verbal empathic responsiveness and physical as well as emotional closeness all are available for satisfactory passage through the symbiotic phase and separation- individuation phase of the child’s development. Advances in infant research (Stern, 1985) as well as Self Psychology, in recent years, endorse this parental approach to promote growth leading to the secure sense of self. In Gertrude and Rubin Blanck’s (1994) schematic summary of development we might see amae as arising in the process of neutralization of the aggressive drive while it serves separation-individuation in active progress. Beginning with toilet training and the capacity to control bodily functions and phallically assertive individual expressions, a moderation of aggressive drive by superego development will ensue. Contrary to this typical Western scenario, Reischauer (1977) observes that toilet training and behavioral discipline of Japanese children are carried out with continued constant gentle attention and care by examples,


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encouragement and reminders. These methods promote the child’s identification with caregivers in moderating aggressive drive and renouncing individual needs in favor of adapting to external expectations, thus arriving by a different path to superego formation. Nonetheless, increasingly complex and frequently restrictive external rules, roles, demands for harmony, obedience, etc., are difficult cultural values to be accommodated to, causing considerable stress on the still fragile individual psyche. Shame by outside judgment and the threat of withdrawal of a loving connection might be utilized to prompt compliance to superego demands in renouncing the child’s individual needs. In these conflicted negotiations of superego and id demands, regression might take place to the rapprochement stage of development where the child seeks temporary reassurance of symbiotic maternal comfort before again moving forward on an individual, separate path. Both Akhtar (2009) and Freeman (1998) describe the emotional refueling aspect of the function of amae . Freeman’s observation of amae as temporary, intermittent yearning and his emphasis on the reciprocal mutual benefit of the amae interaction support this hypothesis. Extending his observation of the mutuality of the amae interaction, it should also be understood that amae can be initiated by the “dependent” party primarily for the benefit of the other party. For example, the amae recipient might consciously or unconsciously sense an anxious mother’s need to be reassured by the child because the child’s need for separation may be perceived by her as a rejection ; amae can also meet the need of an insecure boss to feel power over an ingratiating subordinate, or an aging parent’s need to experience his/her value to a capable grown child. For that matter, sometimes ‘amicable’ amae behavior might camouflage a challenging aggressive demand couched in an appropriately dependent manner, which would correspond to Doi’s (1989) reference to ‘negative/convoluted amae.’ While Doi’s original definition of amae (1971, 1973) as “helpless desire to be loved” stresses the aspect of passivity, this passive dimension appears to have its own complexity. Just as Doi (1971, 1973,1989), Balint (1935/1965; 1968) sees amae as a primary biologically underpinned striving/primary need and wish for love, and Bethelard and Young-Bruehl (1998) consider Doi’s amae as the expectation to be indulgently loved, which they call cherishment, based instinctually and arising at birth. They, just as Doi before them, propose a reconsideration of the self-preservation ego-instinctual hypothesis, with respect to amae . In view of more recent infant research that indicates greater infant capacity for active engagement, the ‘passive-active’ spectrum, pertaining to amae, may need further study. In the context of amae , this activity observed behaviorally, for instance in the attachment studies of Bowlby (1971), reflects an internal experience, with attachment as its behavioral manifestation (Doi, 1989). We could hypothesize, that psychoanalytically amae presents a layered concept, which depicts an active instinctual/affective striving to receive love passively, to be indulged. An alternative to Doi’s defining amae as “desire-drive” (1971) would be to reformulate the definition of amae as a specific form of defense, particularly prevalent in Japanese psychology, though it certainly exists elsewhere, East or West. We might then see amae as the ego’s defensive operation, an “appeal for indulgence-allowance,” mediating demands of the superego and demands of the id, or individual desires wherever they might be located in the


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life cycle of development. This form of ego defense is perhaps needed for adaptation to a strict society, which demands inflexible superego conformity. The hierarchical relational order and group orientation, with strict observance of rules, of roles, and conduct, where private thoughts and emotions are to be kept secret, and where conflicts are resolved by shame, all seem to be a way to deal with a superego formation that originated in feudal society. In order to function with these rigid or exacting superego demands, amae relies on non-verbal emotional communication and responses with empathy, and for “sweet” understanding for “allowance” - “indulgence” - as a necessary defense against his/her aggressive drive or the anxiety over the potential loss of the object. The Ego’s mediation of amae makes room for a person’s private emotional life and allows some avenues for expression of individual human drives, be they libidinal or aggressive. Amae is rooted in identification with pre-verbal experiences of an indulgent caretaker with the capacity to sense the child’s emotional needs and desires to which she responds with empathy, analogical perhaps to Winnicott’s (1965) concept of ‘primary maternal preoccupation’, characterizing ‘the ordinary devoted mother’. In this context, Winnicott’s differentiation between the environment-mother providing ego-relatedness (holding, tenderness, empathy) and the object-mother towards whom id-impulses/drives are directed, may represent later rendition, from the object relations point of view, of Freud’s early division between affectionate and sensual currents of love. Amae and amaeru behavioral communications can be marshaled in a variety of defensive operations such as repression, regression and partial regression, undoing, reaction formation, a ‘mutual secret,’ or even as a pathway to sublimation. Within this defense-adaptation formulation, too, the notion of ‘mutuality’ is developmentally, relationally, and transferentially implied in amae : Hartmann’s (1958) concept of an infant and mother fitting together, Winnicott’s (1965) idea of the ‘holding environment’, as well as Bion’s (1962) concept of ‘container/contained,’ Kohut’s ‘self-object’ (1971) and Stern’s (1985) ‘inter-affectivity’ might be applicable. Amae behaviors can be operative throughout the life cycle whenever the individual’s desires and needs are in collision with cultural-superego restrictions.


It follows from the above that amae behaviors and attitudes cannot be seen just as an expression of simple dependency needs. It is advantageous to see it within complex contextual permutations of both drive/desire as well as defense configuration. This complex view is especially applicable to transference interactions. The appearance of amae in the clinical dyad may indicate the positive transference of increased trust and honesty with the clinician, which could serve the working alliance. Doi (1989) assumes, in fact, that no matter what conscious motive induces the patient to seek psychoanalytic treatment, the underlying unconscious


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motive is that of amae and that ultimately, in time, this becomes the kernel of the transference. Yet clinicians need to be aware of the hierarchical nature of transference inherent especially in the Japanese clinical situation (or, for that matter, in any psychoanalytic setting), and be sensitive and in tune with non-verbal or indirect communication of both ‘positive’ as well as ‘negative’ amae, if these are conceptualized as primary needs, instinctual strivings, defense processes, or a complex developmental-dynamic configuration of all the above. Similarly, Japanese patients’ group orientation cannot simply be understood as a lack of boundaries or individuation, as it might appear simplistically in Western culture. Though we owe the discovery of the concept of amae to the specific Japanese context, it can be discerned in varying degrees across cultures. Within a group psychological context, it relates in complex ways to a separate individual’s need to live in, and belong to a given group setting. Developmentally and clinically, while the echoes of early maternal refueling, containing, and holding can be discerned in it, the internal interactive dynamic of amae extends over the entire life span of the individual (Doi, 1989; Freeman, 1998). Doi’s seminal contribution on amae needs to be appreciated as a regionally specific developmental and clinical Japanese concept with a global reach, enriching theoretical fluency and clinical sensibility across the borders of geography, psychoanalytic culture, and individual conditions.


Akhtar, S and Kramer, S (1998). The Colors of Childhood: Separation Individuation across Cultural, Ratial and Ethnic Differences. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Akhtar, S, ed. (2009). Comprehensive Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. London: Karnak. Balint, M (1935/1965). Critical notes on the theory of pregenital organizations of the libido. In, Primary Love and Psycho-Analytic Technique . New York: Liveright Publishing. Balint, M (1936). The Final Goal of Psycho-Analytic Treatment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 17:206- 216. Balint, M (1968). The Basic Fault: The Therapeutic Aspects of Regression. London, New York: Tavistock Publications. Benedict, R (1946). The Chrysanthemum and the Sword . Cambridge, Mass: The Riverside Press. Bethelard, F and Young-Bruehl, E (1998). Cherishment Culture. American Imago. 55: 521- 542.


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Barnlund, DC (1975) Public and Private Self in Japan and the United States. Tokyo: Simul Press. Bion, WR (1961). Experiences in Groups and Other Papers . New York: Basic Books. Bion, WR (1962). Learning from Experience . London: Tavistock. Blanck, G and Blanck, R (1994). Ego Psychology: Theory and Practice . New York: Columbia University Press. Bowlby, J (1969). Attachment and Loss, Vol.1: Attachment. New York: Basic Books. (revised edition, 1982). Doi,T (1962). Amae: a key concept for understanding Japanese personality structure. Japanese Culture . (R.J. Smith & R.K. Beardsley, transl, eds.) Chicago: Adline Publishing. Doi,T (1963). Some thoughts on helplessness and the desire to be loved. Psychiatry. 26,266- 272, Doi, T (1971). The Anatomy of Dependence. Tokyo: Kodansha. (Japanese original) Doi, T (1973). The Anatomy of Dependence . Kodansha International, Tokyo (English Translation). Doi, T. (1989). The Concept of AMAE and its Psychoanalytic Implications. Int. R. Psycho- Anal, 16:349-354. Doi,T (1992). On the concept of Amae; Infant Mental Health Journal,13, 7-11 Doi,T (1993). Amae and transference love. In: On Freud’s “Observations on Transference Love” . E.S.Person, A.Hogelin & P.Fonagy, eds. Pp: 165-171. Erikson, EH (1950). Childhood and Society , New York: WW Norton. Fairbairn, WRD (1952). Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality . Routledge & Kegan Paul, London / An Object-Relations Theory of Personality . Basic Books, New York. Freeman, D. (1998). Emotional Refueling in development, mythology, and cosmology: the Japanese separation-individuation experience. In: Akhtar, S and Kramer, S. (eds), The Colors of Childhood: Separation Individuation across Cultural, Ratial and Ethnic Differences. Northvale, NJ: Jason Aronson. Freud, S (1910). ‘Wild’ Psycho-Analysis, S.E .XI. Freud, S (1912). On the universal tendency of debasement in the sphere of love (Contributions to the psychology of love II), S.E. XI. Freud, S (1914). On narcissism. S.E . XIV. Freud, S (1921). Group psychology and the analysis of the ego., S.E .XVIII. Freud, S (1930). Civilization and its discontents, S.E .XXI.


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Hartmann, H (1958). Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation . New York: International University Press. Klein, M (1957). Envy and Gratitude , London: Tavistock Publications. Kohut, H (1971). The Analysis of the Self. Madison: Int.Univ.Press. Mahler, M.S. and Furer, M (1968). On Human Symbiosis and the Vicissitudes of Individuation . New York: Int.Univ.Press. Mahler, MS, Pine F, MM and Bergman, A (1975). The Psychological Birth of the Human Infant . New York: Basic Books. Nakane , C (1970). Japanese Society. Berkeley: University of California Press. Okonogi, K, Kitayama, O, Ushijima, S, Kano, R, Kinugasa, T, Fujiyama, N, Matsuki, K, Myouki, H, eds. (2002). The Japanese Dictionary of Psychoanalysis . Tokyo: Iwasaki Gakujutu Shuppannsha Books. Passim, H (1965). Society and Education in Japan. New York: Columbia University Press. Reischauer, EO (1977). The Japanese. Cambridge, London: Belknap Press. Roland , A (1991). In Search of Self in India and Japan: Toward a Cross Cultural Psychology. Princeton: Princeton University Press. Spitz, RA (1965b); The First Year of Life: Normal and Deviant Relations. New York: Int.Univ.Press. Stern, DN (1985); The Interpersonal World of the Infant: A View from Psychoanalysis and Developmental Psychology . New York: Basic Books. Winnicott, DW (1965). The Maturational Process and the Facilitating Environment. New York: International University Press.


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Regional Consultants and Contributors

North America: Written collaboratively by Takayuki Kinugasa, M.D. and the members of the Japan Psychoanalytic Society; Nobuko Meaders, LCSW; Linda A. Mayers, PhD; Eva D. Papiasvili, PhD, ABPP

Europe: Reviewed by Arne Jemstedt, MD, and the European Consultants

Latin America: Reviewed by Elias M. da Rocha Barros, Dipl. Psych., and the Latin American Consultants

Inter-Regional Coordinating Co-Chair: Eva D. Papiasvili, PhD, ABPP

Additional special editorial assistance: Jessi Suzuki, M.Sc.

The IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis is licensed under Creative Commons Licence CC-BY-NC-ND. Core rights remain with the authors (the IPA and IPA member contributors), however the material may be used by others, subject to non-commercial usage, full attribution to the IPA (including reference to this URL www.ipa.world/IPA/Encyclopedic_Dictionary) and verbatim reproduction, not in a derivative, edited or remixed form. Please click here for terms.


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CONFLICT Tri-Regional Entry Inter-Regional Consultants: Christine Diercks (Europe), Daniel Traub-Werner (North America) and Héctor Cothros (Latin America) Inter-Regional Coordinating Co-Chair: Eva D. Papiasvili

“… It is from this pair of opposites that our mental life springs” (Freud, Letter to W.Fliess of February 19, 1899; in Freud, S. 1886-1899, p. 278.).


Freud inaugurated psychoanalysis on the foundation of psychic conflict – the functioning of the human mind, reflective of the interaction of opposing forces and tendencies. Psychoanalysis places special emphasis on the effects of unconscious conflicts defined as interactions in the mind among forces of which the individual is unaware. In a conflict, opposed wishes, feelings, needs, interests, ideas and values are confronted with each other. In psychoanalytic theory, psychic conflict is central to the dynamics of the human mind and is, in the classical view, fuelled by instinctual [drive] energy and mediated by affectively cathected fantasies. All mental processes are based on the interaction of conflicting psychic forces, which in turn are in complex interaction with external stimuli. The primary subjects of psychoanalysis are unconscious latent aspects of psychic conflict, which are ultimately founded in repressed infantile wishes. These unconscious contents resurface in distorted forms such as in dreams, parapraxes, symptoms and in the form of cultural manifestations. For Freud, the core conflict of psychoanalysis is the Oedipal conflict. This dispute – situated between infantile desire and prohibition – is constitutive for the dynamics of psychic life and its manifestations. In addition to its dynamic qualities, conflict also has several metapsychological components: Topographic (conscious, preconscious, unconscious), economic (sensory overstimulation, reality and the pleasure principle), genetic (depending on the development of ego-functions) and structural (conflicts between ego, super-ego and id). Furthermore, the Oedipal conflict is set within the instinct/drive-dualism (sexual instinct / instinct of self-preservation, ego-libido / object-libido, life / death instinct).


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Conceptualisations formulated by object-relations theorists expand the arena in which these conflicts unfold by focussing on the character of (internalized) self- and object-relations. Whether a conflict is accessible to conscious thought and thereby can potentially be processed realistically or, whether it must be repressed, depends on the strength of the instinctual [drive] forces involved, on the individual’s mental coping capacities and on environmental conditions. Extrapolating and expanding on contemporary North American, European and Latin American dictionaries and writings (Akhtar’s 2009, Auchincloss and Samberg 2012; Laplanche and Pontalis 1973, Skelton 2006; Borensztejn 2014), (unconscious) conflicts can be conceptualized according to the following binaries: 1. External vs. Internal/Intrapsychic conflicts: the former referring to conflicts between the individual and his environment, while the latter refer to those within his own psyche; 2. Externalized vs. Internalized conflicts: the former pertain to internal conflicts that have been transposed upon external reality, and the latter to the psychic problems caused by the incorporation of environmental constrictions opposing one’s drives and desires; 3. Developmental conflicts vs. Anachronistic conflicts: the former refer to developmentally normative, phase specific, developmentally transformative conflicts caused by parental challenges to the child’s wishes or by contradictory wishes of the child himself (Nagera, 1966), and the latter to conflicts that are not age-specific and may underlie psychopathology during adulthood; somewhat similarly, this binary is specified in Laplanche and Pontalis (1973) as Oedipal conflicts vs. Defense conflicts; 4. Inter-systemic vs. Intra-systemic conflicts: the former refers to the tension between id and ego or between ego and superego (Freud, 1923, 1926); the latter (Hartman, 1939; Freud, A. 1965; Laplanche 1973) refers to that between different instinctual tendencies (love- aggression), or different ego attributes or functions (activity-passivity), or different superego dictates (modesty-success); 5. Structural conflict vs. Object Relations conflict: the former refers to a stressful divergence of agenda between the three major psychic structures, namely id, ego, and superego (Freud, 1926) experienced as belonging fully to the individual’s self, and the latter refers to a conflict in a psychic space that is antecedent to such structural differentiation (Dorpat, 1976; Kernberg, 1983, 2003); another formulation of this binary is Oedipal vs. Pre-Oedipal conflict; 6. Opposition type conflict vs. Dilemma of choice type conflict (Rangell, 1963); or, analogically Convergent vs. Divergent conflicts (Kris, A. 1984, 1985): the former refers to conflicts between intrapsychic forces that can be brought together by a compromise (formation), the latter, sometimes called ‘either-or’ conflicts, refer to those conflicts where such negotiations are unlikely and choosing one side of the pull, with the subsequent mourning or renouncing an alternative course, is imperative. A wide range of psychoanalytic orientations worldwide, with complex differences and overlaps, place varying degrees of emphasis on conflict. On one end of this spectrum are Contemporary Freudian and Kleinian orientations, which continue to retain conflict as a core


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concept in their formulation of psychic development and functioning. On the other side of the spectrum may be Kohut’s Self Psychology perspectives, a developmental theory based on deficits and the attainment of psychic structure that presents a different paradigm altogether in which, aside from a brief mention of conflict between parent and child over differing self- object needs, the notion of conflict recedes into the background. How one thinks about conflict is one of the defining factors of both, Freud’s theoretical development as well as the development of psychoanalytic theories after Freud.


Tracking the variations in how Freud conceptualized conflict defines several periods of his theoretical development. The unique way three different psychopathologies try to organize their conflicts is symptomatic. Hysterics convert the struggle between sexuality and society into physical symptoms creating a conflict between the mind and the body. Obsessional individuals displace the struggle between an idea and its affect into a seemingly innocuous obsession. Paranoid patients project their incompatible experiences into the outside world creating a conflict between the internal and external world. These unique ways of inadequately resolving psychic conflicts became gradually structured in stages of theory development. II. A. Trauma and The Pre-Analytic Cathartic Period (1893 – 1899) During this time, Freud speaks of conflicts between affects associated with traumatic events and the moral prohibitions of the society, designating internal-external, interpersonal conflict, where the notion of inner opposing forces is implied (Freud, 1893 - 1895). In 1899, comparing dreams and hysterical symptoms, Freud reminisces on his 1894 statement of conflict: “It is not only dreams that are wish fulfillment, but hysterical attacks as well…I recognized it long ago… Reality – wish-fulfillment. It is from this pair of opposites that our mental life springs” (Freud, 1899, p. 278). In his early work with hysterics Freud discovered that their sexual desires conflicted with societal norms and that the pathological resolution of this conflict was the symptom. Symptoms are generated as inadequate ways to resolve conflicts: “… patients … had enjoyed good mental health up to the moment at which an occurrence of incompatibility took place in their ideational life … until their ego was faced with an experience, an idea or a feeling which aroused such a distressing affect that the subject decided to forget about it because he had no confidence in his power to resolve the contradiction between that incompatible idea and his ego by means of thought-activity…” (1894a, p. 47, original emphasis).


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Inspired by Josef Breuer’s experiences with Anna O. and Charcot’s demonstrations of post-traumatic hysterical paralyses as well as the experimental production of hysterical paralyses and its reversal by hypnotic suggestion, Freud and Breuer assumed (Freud and Breuer 1895) that, in Conversion Hysteria, specific mental circumstances emerged, in which violent, traumatic affects unable to get abreacted were converted into physical symptoms. These symptoms found physical expression but they are not physical in origin, they only serve to - symbolically – express the event that triggered the development of hysteria. The path to remembering the initiating event had been cut off, dissociated from waking consciousness. Freud wrote: “In traumatic neuroses the operative cause of the illness is not the trifling physical injury but the affect of fright—the psychical trauma. In an analogous manner, our investigations reveal, for many, if not for most, hysterical symptoms, precipitating causes which can only be described as psychical traumas. Any experience which calls up distressing affects—such as those of fright, anxiety, shame or physical pain—may operate as a trauma of this kind” (Freud and Breuer 1895, pp.5-6). Ideas and wishful impulses, which are conflicting with other values, if suppressed, can lead to symptoms. In 1894, Freud formulated an initial conflict model for the formation of conversion symptoms in hysteria, obsessional neuroses, and phobias, which he summed up under the term neuro-psychoses of defence (Freud 1894a,b). In contrast to conflict formation, in neuro-psychoses of defence, Freud understood the symptoms of actual neuroses including anxiety neurosis and neurasthenia (Freud 1894c; Freud 1898), not as an expression of a normally functioning mental process but as a direct result of a toxic libido transformation caused by inadequately discharged sexual energy. Furthermore, it became clear to him that the incompatible ideas of his female patients “arise chiefly on the soil of sexual experience and sensation” (Freud 1894a, p. 47). He additionally found that these ideas were connected to early childhood experiences and concluded that his patients must have suffered from sexual seduction by an adult (Freud 1896, p.203). Accordingly, hysterical symptoms are direct descendants of unconsciously operating memories of these experiences, which - retroactively – resurge and become fully effective when triggered by current events. He further pointed out that the pathogenic nature of these childhood events only existed as long as they remained unconscious (ibid, 211). But then – in his famous letter to Wilhelm Fliess from September 21st in 1897 – he wrote: “I no longer believe in my neurotica [theory of the neuroses]” (Freud, 1897, p. 259). His “certain insight that there are no indications of reality in the unconscious, so that one cannot distinguish between truth and fiction that has been cathected with affect” led Freud to doubt his seduction-theory (ibid, p. 260). Due to the analysis of his own dreams, Freud formulated a crucial insight on October 15, 1897: “A single thought of general value has been revealed to me. I have found, in my own case too, [the phenomenon of] being in love with my mother and jealous of my father, and I now consider it a universal event in early childhood, even if not so early as in children who have been made hysterical. […] Everyone in the audience was once a budding Oedipus in fantasy and each recoils in horror from the dream fulfilment here transplanted into reality, with the whole quota of repression which separates his infantile state from his present one.” (ibid, p. 265).


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But, soon after, he again reported concussive cases of sexual violence and in a letter to Fliess he proclaimed (quoting Goethe`s Mignon) “a new motto: What has been done to you, you poor child?” (Freud 1897, p. 289; Goethe 1795/96). Never completely abandoning trauma as etiological, he swayed back and forth, though despite all doubts in regards to the psychic consequences of remembered traumatic seduction, he did adhere to one idea from 1897 onwards, namely that his patient’s “neurotic symptoms were not related directly to actual events but to wishful fantasies, and that, as far as the neurosis was concerned psychical reality was of more importance than material reality” (Freud 1925, p. 34). To him, the concept of trauma was now opposed to the idea of infantile, drive-driven wishful fantasies rooted in the “inner” world, conflictually settled between unconditional desire and prohibition. Here, the rational subject of enlightenment is meeting an ego, driven by unconscious wishes, responding to an environment on which he/she is extremely dependent at the beginning of life. The interface of this crucial dynamic is the Oedipal conflict caused by love and hate impulses towards our primary objects. In 1925 he remembered, “I had in fact stumbled for the first time upon the Oedipus complex , which was later to assume such an overwhelming importance, but which I did not recognize as yet in its disguise of fantasy” (Freud 1925, p. 34, original emphasis). The outcome of the conflictual Oedipal crises is constitutive for the dynamics of psychic life and its manifestations. On the subject of trauma vis-a-vis conflict , Freud took different positions. For example, previously in his lectures he pointed out “that between the intensity and pathogenic importance of infantile and of later experiences a complemental relationship exists similar to the series we have already discussed. There are cases in which the whole weight of causation falls on the sexual experiences of childhood, cases in which those impressions exert a definitely traumatic effect and call for no other support than can be afforded them by an average sexual constitution and the fact of its incomplete development. Alongside of these cases there are others in which the whole accent lies on the later conflicts and the emphasis we find in the analysis laid on the impressions of childhood appears entirely as the work of regression. Thus we have extremes of ‘developmental inhibition’ and ‘regression’ and between them every degree of cooperation between the two factors” (Freud, 1916-1917, p. 364). In his retrospection from 1925 he referred only to his discovery of the wishful aspect in infantile fantasies: “I was at last obliged to recognize that these scenes of seduction had never taken place, and that they were only phantasies which my patients had made up or which I myself had perhaps forced on them” (Freud 1925, p. 33). On the overall, as the psychoanalytic theory and theory of pathogenesis would become gradually more complex in Freud’s formulations, the notion of conflict in relation to trauma, its multiple causes and consequences would acquire additional ‘over determined’ and ‘complemental’ character: The concept of traumatic powerful excitations from the outside breaking through the protective shield or external stimulus barrier (Freud, 1920) gradually receded in favour of definition of trauma as ego helplessness in the face of real or imagined, internal or external danger (Freud, 1926), which could occur at any period of life, with Ego immaturity predisposing the individual to helplessness. Are neurotic productions tied in with real, even traumatic experiences or wishful fantasies? The question of which is "true", the authenticity of the seduction scenes or their


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fictitious nature runs through the entirety of psychoanalytic theory (Rand & Torok, 1996, 305) and the complexity of their intertwining is best illustrated in Freud’s clinical cases (Freud 1905b; 1909a,b; 1910a; 1911b; 1918). Ilse Grubrich-Simitis (1987, 2000) points out that it would have been much easier for Freud to adhere to his original seduction-theory. Sexual abuse in the family environment was known but represented a deviation from the norm. The trauma model would have highlighted the difference between normality and pathology. By contrast, the drive model talks about the undeniable fact of one’s own archaic infantile conquest and death wishes, of the inescapability of one’s instinctual [drive] nature. Although Freud highlighted trauma as a crucial etiological factor throughout his work, this stress on internal factors may have contributed to the fact that theoretical discussions of psychoanalytic concepts "moved the traumatic causes in relation to the drive-related conflicts and the fixations of the libido to the brink ” (Bohleber 2000, p.802). Contemporary psychoanalytic theories of trauma take into consideration the type and intensity of the trauma, the psychological conditions of the person before the trauma took effect and, the reaction of close caregivers and the environment towards the victims of trauma. II. B. The Topographic Theory and the First Theory of Anxiety (1900-1920) As Freud proceeded with his self-analysis, he came to view conflicts as increasingly more internal. In his conceptualization of internal conflict, he replaced affects with instincts and postulated prohibitive forces as existing also within (Freud, 1900; Freud, 1905a,b). In the “Interpretation of Dreams” (1900), these conflicts are theorized as occurring between the structures of consciousness and the unconscious. This internal structuring of psychic conflict is first clearly in view in the Interpretation of Dreams (1900), which will officially inaugurate psychoanalysis. The theory of the Oedipus complex (Freud, 1900) defines all the parameters of conflict developmentally (Freud, 1905b) within the context of one’s initial object relations with mother, father and the parental couple, as well as with siblings. Here love and desire clash with hostility and murderousness, both of which conflict with familial and social reality. Internal conflicts were elaborated on and understood as occurring between sexual and ego- preservative instincts (Freud, 1910a; Freud, 1911a; Freud, 1914: Freud, 1915a, b, c). This period witnessed a crucial expansion in Freud’s thinking about conflict. In his “Formulation of the Two Principles of Mental Functioning” (Freud, 1911) he described the developmental vicissitudes of the pleasure versus reality principles. The fundamental axis on which the distinction between them rests is the subject’s relation to pain. The pleasure principle is best understood as the hatred-of-pain principle, which seeks pleasure to push aside and obscure pain. To obscure pain, the mind will fantasize or hallucinate satisfaction where none exists. When the mind realizes that hallucinations do not create real satisfaction, it learns to accommodate reality, even if it includes pain: “It was only the non-occurrence of the expected satisfaction, the disappointment experienced, that led to the abandonment of this attempt at satisfaction by means of hallucination. Instead of it, the psychical apparatus had to decide to form a conception


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