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Meyer, J.K. Davison, W.T. (1989). Current Concepts of Adult Psychic Structure. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 37:187-198.

(1989). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 37:187-198

Current Concepts of Adult Psychic Structure

Jon K. Meyer, M.D. and Walter T. Davison, M.D.

THE CHAIRMAN BEGAN BY NOTING that Freud's last great gift to us was the structural model, which has been both serviceable and puzzling because Freud used structure to mean a variety of different things. Among these were the organization of a group of interrelated dynamically operative thoughts; the organization of psychopathological formations; the organization of the mental apparatus; the organization of the psyche; and references to the structural model. Freud repeatedly urged caution that these organizations not be taken literally though he sometimes seemed to forget that himself (if our translation can be trusted). In his final days, Freud came to view structure, along with unconscious mental processes, as one of the two fundamental hypotheses in psychoanalysis. We must constantly struggle to maintain a sense of balance when dealing with psychoanalytic concepts rather than reify our metaphors.

Reviewing the work of H. Hartmann, E. Kris, and R. M. Loewenstein, D. Rappaport and M. M. Gill, and J. A. Arlow and C. Brenner, Meyer noted that the structural hypothesis has become the predominant model in psychoanalysis and has superseded and subsumed other metapsychological points of view.

Boesky's contribution (read by Meyer) began with the following assumptions: (1) All definitions are matters of convenience; a primary consideration in definitional matters is a rigorous assessment of the fit between definition and clinical data. (2) Psychoanalysis is a science of the mind in conflict, and definitions of structure outside of that view represent a frame of reference different from psychoanalysis. (3) Anything at all in the mind or any of its processes may be called structures so long as the advantages and disadvantages of doing so can be appraised and challenged on data gathered in the psychoanalytic clinical situation.

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