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Krüger, S. (2012). Fresh Brains: Jacques Lacan's Critique of Ernst Kris's Psychoanalytic Method in the Context of Kris's Theoretical Writings. Am. Imago, 69(4):507-542.

(2012). American Imago, 69(4):507-542

Fresh Brains: Jacques Lacan's Critique of Ernst Kris's Psychoanalytic Method in the Context of Kris's Theoretical Writings

Steffen Krüger


Jacques Lacan's attack on ego psychology became specifically identified with his polemics against Ernst Kris (1900-1957), a Viennese-born analyst of the ego-psychological tradition, who from 1940 until his death practiced in the United States. It was particularly Kris's 1951 Psychoanalytic Quarterly article, “Ego Psychology and Interpretation in Psychoanalytic Theory” (1951/1975) that kept irritating—and fascinating—Lacan. In that article, Lacan (1901-1981) came to find a paradigmatic example of ego-psychological treatment, an example instrumental in making his case against this most influential direction in psychoanalysis after the Second World War.

Lacan dedicated repeated time and reflection to Kris's case study, discussing it twice in his seminars (1953-1954, pp. 52-61; 1955-1956, pp. 73-88) and coming back to it twice again in his writings (1966, pp. 318-333, 489-542). Due to this strong interest in the case, as well as its exemplary nature—the discussion of which served to make Lacan's otherwise highly coded work more accessible—Kris's study has gained considerable notoriety in Lacanian circles, serving as one of the most eminent examples of how not to treat a patient.

Astonishingly, though, with all the original contributions by Kris and Lacan dating back to the 1950s and 60s, the case never seemed to obtain more than proverbial character for Lacanian analysts.1

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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