IPA Inter-Regional Encyclopedic Dictionary of Psychoanalysis

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Mahler created an interface between classical drive theory and the developmental theory of object relations by using the concept of symbiosis to refer to both a relationship in reality and to a libidinally determined internal fantasy (Greenberg and Mitchell, 1983). Mahler’s use of Hartmann’s concepts of an average expectable environment (Hartmann, 1927/1964) and of adaptation (Hartmann, 1939) “moved the drive model in a direction which implicitly granted relation with other a much more central explanatory role …” (Greenberg and Mitchell 1983, p.282). In order to specify the ‘average expectable environment’, Mahler also referred to Winnicott’s (1960) concept of the “ordinary devoted/good enough mother” (Mahler 1961; Mahler & Furer, 1968). In this way she equated the child’s early environment with the specific person of the mother. Contemporary Separation-Individuation theory includes the real mother and infant, as well as the concepts of internalization, and internal representation. Mahler’s theory correlates analytically informed observation with intrapsychic developmental transformations: “The intrapsychic changes can include a shift in ego boundaries, the differentiation of self and object representations, the cohesion or spitting of these representations and the achievement of self- object constancy. Both dyadic partners need to be considered” (Blum, 2004, p 551). In the proposed contemporary modification and reformulation, Harold Blum (2004) integrates findings of later developmental research (Stern 1985; Pine, 1986; Bergman, 1999; Gergely, 2000; Fonagy, 2000). His modification involves the symbiotic phase as well as separation- individuation, with particular attention to differentiation and rapprochement. He stresses that the neonatal “differentiation precedes the emergence of intra-psychic self and object representation” (Blum, 2004, p. 541). From another perspective, structural theory, as developed by Jacobson and Mahler (1979), “contains a rich and sophisticated developmental concept of the self, a contemporary elaboration of the dual aspects of Freud’s Ich” (Kernberg, 1982, p. 900). In the context of the clinical work, Jacobson’s and Mahler’s focus on self and object representations contributed to future developments in the vast area of representational processes and ‘representability’ of the not-yet-represented enactments (see the separate entry ENACTMENT). Hans Loewald was among the Freudian revisionists of 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s, who forged a connection between Freudian Ego Psychology and Object Relations Theory in an attempt to create a psychoanalytic model that better reflected a person’s actual experience in the world. In process he critically examined the most fundamental assumptions of psychoanalytic theory building, and addressed basic preconceptions about the nature of mind, reality and the analytic process. Loewald (1960) believed that Freud had postulated two different understandings of the drives. Before 1920, Freud viewed the drives as discharge-seeking. With his introduction of the concept of Eros in 1920 in “Beyond the Pleasure Principle,” Freud introduced the idea of drives 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”


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