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Neubauer, P. (1992). Discussion of Professor Morton's Presentation. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 15(4):335-339.
   

(1992). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 15(4):335-339

Discussion of Professor Morton's Presentation

Peter Neubauer

I am not going to present you with a carefully delineated discussion of Professor Morton's contribution. Instead I will offer comments, in a not very organized form, on a variety of points that came to mind as I read some of the papers by Professor Morton that he had forwarded to me in advance of this meeting.

Memory is a part of all mental functioning and is therefore an element interwoven in all aspects of psychoanalytic therapy and theory. It is essential in order to understand the effects of trauma. It has a place in the complex search for reconstruction and interpretation. It is shaped by affect, anxiety, pain and pleasure, and is part of conscious, preconscious and unconscious mental layers.

Psychoanalytic memory has been defined as being a part of the ego apparatus, with perception, motor function and language, and it constitutes the instrument for shaping the mediating and organizing role of the ego. Thus a theory of the development of memory must closely associate it to the maturation of the other factors and to the development of other ego functions. In viewing memory and the other components of the apparatus in this wider, interrelated dynamic role, we recognize that a microscopic view of its structure and its elements, as has been presented, deserves attention, and we hope that as it comes from non-psychoanalytic allied fields it will explore the complexity of the mind in a way that is beyond our capacity in our clinical practice.

Dr Morton has focussed on the cognitive area and, within the clear field of observation, explores the basic principles of memory and its development. I envied him the clarity of his field, but I must add that very often it disorganized my own thoughts about my own material. Dr Morton's contribution has two aims. The first is to develop a method of investigation which he pursues in the spirit of scientific self-criticism, testing it continuously on its usefulness for pursuing his hypothesis and for formulating models. In his research strategy - his outline for identifying the requirements posed by each task and translating these requirements into the terms of the model - Dr Morton tries to present a model that is complex enough to handle the variety of natural and experimentally produced phenomena of memory.

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