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Scharff, D.E. (2000). Fairbairn and the Self as an Organized System: Chaos Theory as a New Paradigm. Canadian J. Psychoanal., 8(2):181-195.

(2000). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 8(2):181-195

Fairbairn and the Self as an Organized System: Chaos Theory as a New Paradigm

David E. Scharff

Chaos theory offers a paradigm for psychoanalysis that improves our powers of understanding. Because it offers an explanation for the essential unpredictability of complex dynamic events, it relieves analysis of the burden of prediction, and at the same time enables it to offer enhanced understanding of complex and repetitive patterns of psychic organization and interpersonal interaction. Fairbairn's endopsychic model of personality introduced the idea of dynamic flux of endlessly complex factors into psychoanalytic theory. The clinical concepts of transferencecountertransference exchange and of the analytic process are best theoretically explained by his model. Chaos theory offers to ground these ideas on the firmer support of a model of the organization of complex self-organizing systems as they tend towards higher levels of organization—a fitting model for the psychoanalytic process.

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