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Vollmerhausen, J.W. (1966). The Psychoanalytic Approach to the Psychoses. Am. J. Psychoanal., 26:66-69.

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(1966). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 26(1):66-69

The Psychoanalytic Approach to the Psychoses Related Papers

Joseph W. Vollmerhausen, M.D.

The holistic psychoanalytic approach to the organism, as distinguished from the reductionistic psychoanalytic approach, puts aside the familiar dichotomies of man vs. environment, body vs. mind, subject vs. object. It attempts to think in terms of an organism-environment complex, in which the organism is an open system continuously involved in exchange with its surroundings. Psychosis from this point of view does not invade a person, nor can it be removed from a person; functionally the psychosis and the person are one. The psychotic disorder is, in a sense, a particular mode of expression of the organism in its entirety, involving behavior at different levels from that of smooth muscle and endocrines to the symbolism of thought and speech. It is to be expected there-for that all part-processes of the organism may reveal disfunction. We do find biochemical, bio-electric, social and symbolic systems functioning in peculiar ways in the individual who is dominated by the psychotic process.

Otto Will Jr. in his article, “Schizophrenia and the Psychotherapeutic Field” (Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Fall issue, 1965), gives an excellent summary of holistic concepts which I feel are relevant to illuminating the clinical material which I shall present later. The holistic concepts listed by Will are:

1)   The potential of the organism begins to find its expression in activity behavior.

2)   Environmental feedback in conformity with the developed abilities of the organism is required for further elaboration of the activity and development of potential.

3)   Growth and learning are dependent both on current opportunity and on skills arising from past experience.

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