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Bernstein, P.P. (1997). The Effect Of The Environment On Intrapsychic Conflicts: Reality And Fantasy In Modern Conflict Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:557-568.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:557-568

The Effect Of The Environment On Intrapsychic Conflicts: Reality And Fantasy In Modern Conflict Theory

Paula P. Bernstein

Sander Abend opened the panel by reminding the audience that questions about the relationship between environmental influences and intrapsychic conflict have been at the heart of psychoanalytic theory and technique from its very inception as a science, beginning with Freud's revolutionary thesis that sexual seduction in childhood lay at the root of neurotic difficulties and his subsequent shift in position after having discovered the central role of infantile sexual fantasies in normal development and in neurosogenesis. With the proliferation of competing schools of psychoanalytic thought, disputes arose about the relative weight to be assigned to external and internal factors, and differences with respect to this matter spawned modifications in technique.

The panelists, Abend went on to explain, were chosen not for theoretical diversity, but rather to set forth, illustrate, and discuss what Abend called “modern conflict theory.” Descended from the classical Freudian position, all four share a conviction about the determinative significance of infantile instinctual conflict on character and psychopathology.

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