IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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Following Hartmann’s death, object relations came further into prominence, and theoretical pluralism set in. The social ferment in the USA at the time of postmodern philosophical questioning about ‘authority’ and the feminist critique of inherent sex and gender assumptions of Freudian ‘fallocentrism’ also contributed to the critique of the homogeneity of Classical Ego Psychology. Some of the additional factors included: The overemphasis on the Oedipus complex as a procrustean bed; As practiced, ego psychology was often based on experience- distant interpretations; Analysis was often carried out in a strict, impersonal fashion; Even with the growing body of developmental literature, trauma seemed not to be taken into consideration; Classical and Ego psychological literature, namely Hartmann was taught in an idealized fashion (see the separate entry EGO PSYCHOLOGY). Ego Psychology changed as theorists insisted on clinical findings to support metapsychological assumptions. Here the evolution included some members of the early group (e.g. Mahler, Jacobson) as well as new generations of thinkers (e.g., Beres, 1962; Arlow & Brenner, 1964; Kanzer, 1971). This new era was signaled by the Arlow and Brenner (1964) monograph, in which they collapsed the metapsychological perspective under the structural point of view . This shift helped open the door for new ways of thinking about both development and clinical situation, including new integrational efforts of Otto Kernberg (1966) who integrated selected elements of British Object relations theories with Ego Psychology, proceeding to develop ‘American Object Relations Theory’, and Heinz Kohut (1971), who started extending Freud’s view of Narcissism and proceeded to create his own system called Self Psychology, defining psychoanalysis as a treatment in which the analyst was to listen empathically to the patient to identify the need for selfobject responsiveness (from the analyst) and closely monitor the analyst’s failure to meet the actual selfobject needs of the patient. (See the separate entries OBJECT RELATIONS THEORIES, SELF). One of the primary changes in the zeitgeist of this thinking was a reaction against the metapsychological orientation. Informed by the methodology of ‘operationalism’ (focus on concrete operations), the anti-metapsychological emphasis was developed first in the works of interpersonal/cultural theorists Harry Stack Sullivan (1953), Karen Horney (1941) and Erik Fromm (1941), who often selectively used the concept of the unconscious only as a secondary descriptive term rather than as a major aspect of psychic life. However, even in their formulations, the ‘alienated’, ‘not-me’ parts of oneself had to be kept out of awareness and pushed deep into the ‘immutably private’ unconscious. This approach has contributed directly and indirectly to psychoanalytic conceptualizations and dynamic work with serious pathologies, conceptualizations of early development and deepening of the understanding of unconscious transactions within the transference-countertransference field . Together with Harold Searles (1979), who expanded the scope of understanding of countertransference, Sullivan, Horney and Fromm would be later viewed as progenitors of intersubjectivity . Originally intending to counter Kraepelin’s view of schizophrenia, Sullivan identified emotional suffering as having an interpersonal basis in pathogenic interactions early and throughout the childhood of an individual. Etiologically prominent, such interactions lead to difficulties in life that could be effectively treated by an interpersonally based approach in which the analyst corrected the patient’s anticipation that the analyst would act like earlier harmful figures in the patient’s life. Ultimately, a Sullivanian Institute, the William Alanson


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