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Eissler, K.R. (1953). The Effect of the Structure of the Ego on Psychoanalytic Technique. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 1:104-143.

(1953). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 1:104-143

The Effect of the Structure of the Ego on Psychoanalytic Technique

K. R. Eissler, M.D.

The subject matter of this paper is closely related to a problem which has occupied the minds of analysts for decades. It is within the scope of the question which Freud raised at the Berlin Psychoanalytic Convention (1922) when he asked: "What is the relationship between psychoanalytic technique and psychoanalytic theory?" Freud's question encompassed a vast area, only one portion of which pertains to the subject matter of this paper.

Freud's question of 1922 will interest us today particularly in conjunction with the structure of the ego. During the last two decades a certain sentiment has spread which might be formulated as follows: If our knowledge of the structure of the ego were complete, then a variety of techniques—ideally adapted to the requirements of the individual disturbance—could be perfected; thus we could assure definite mastery of the ego over those areas in which it had suffered defeat, that is to say, assure complete recovery. Like all sentiments, this one does not adequately reflect objective reality, but it is probably correct to say that greatly deepened, almost complete, insight into the structure of the ego would multiply the clinical effectiveness of psychoanalytic techniques. The pessimist's claim, however, must be conceded: Full knowledge of the structure of the ego would, no doubt, make the task of changing that structure appear in its true and gigantic proportion, inducing us as a consequence to withdraw modestly from such heroic attempts.

Before delving into the subject matter, I want to exclude two variables which have great bearing on psychoanalytic techniques.

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