IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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In the sense of this double focus on the depth of individual’s experience as well as acknowledgement of the profound impact of the societal-cultural surrounds, Chodorow (2004) views contemporary Intersubjective Ego Psychology as a direct progeny of Hans Loewald and Erik H. Erikson , both émigrés from Nazi occupied Europe. She depicts especially Erikson’s case writings, portraying the tragedies of internal life as well as the uncontrollable accidents of one's family and history. She also highlights Erikson’s concept of psychosocial development (Erikson 1964) and his wider social-cultural-political interest as evidenced in his writings on poverty, the mistreatment of Native Americans, and the depression and self-blame that immigration or living in a racially biased world can foster (Erikson, 1964). In his chapter on American identity in Childhood and Society, Erikson (1950) highly praises American individuality, but at the same time condemns racism, capitalism, exploitation, and mass society. Addressing Loewald’s societal and individual focus, she notes his statement of what he calls the great betrayal by Heidegger during the Nazi period, as well as his developmental focus on the unavoidable killing of one's parents and oedipal atonement, and his recognition of the intractability of certain negative therapeutic reactions based partially in the death instinct. Hans Loewald was among the Freudian revisionists of 1960’s, 1970’ and 1980’s, who forged a connection between Freudian Ego Psychology and Object Relations Theory to create a psychoanalytic theory that he felt stayed closer to peoples' experience of their lives. His main concerns addressed the most fundamental assumptions of psychoanalytic theory building, and basic preconceptions about the nature of mind, reality and the analytic process. Loewald believed that Freud postulated two different understandings of the drives. The first was before 1920 with drives as discharge-seeking. The second came with his introduction of the concept of Eros in 1920 in Beyond the Pleasure Principle, where Freud radically altered his definition of the drive as no longer discharge-seeking but rather as connection-seeking “not using objects for gratification but for building more complex mental experiences and for re- establishing the lost original unity between self and others.” (Mitchell and Black, 1995, p.190). Loewald's revision of Freud's drive theory required a radical reformulation of Freud's traditional psychoanalytic concepts. While for Freud the id is an unchanging biological force clashing with social reality, for Loewald the id is an interactional product of adaptation rather than a constant biological force. The mind is not interactive secondarily but is interactive by its very nature. Loewald theorized that in the beginning there is no distinction between self and other, ego and external reality, or instincts and objects; rather there is an original unitary whole composed of both baby and caregivers. His transformational influence during 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s on psychoanalytic metapsychology and on the emergence of new ways of conceptualizing analytic material is exemplified by his statement that “Instincts understood as psychic and motivational forces become organized as such through interactions within a psychic field, consisting originally of the mother-child (psychic) unit.” (Loewald, 1971, p. 118). It is because of statements like these that Loewald, self-identified as an Ego psychologist, was subsequently found to be exemplary of ‘Third Model’ thinking described below (see also OBJECT RELATIONS THEORIES entry).


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