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Glover, E. (1935). A Developmental Study of the Obsessional Neuroses. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:131-144.

(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:131-144

A Developmental Study of the Obsessional Neuroses

Edward Glover

Progress in understanding the obsessional neuroses has been considerably hampered by the very natural tendency of the clinician to concentrate his energies on characteristic clinical features of the disease. By so doing he limits the scope of his etiological investigations. Study of various transitional or mixed types shews that the real significance of obsessions cannot be appreciated until the relations of the disease on the one hand to hysteria, and on the other to the psychoses, have been established. This tendency to treat the obsessional neuroses as an isolated clinical entity has been fostered by the peculiarities and complexities of the symptom picture. Freud has himself commented on this complexity and regretted the absence of a synthesis of symptom-variations. Actually the degree of ramification of a neurosis is itself significant. The more extensively a symptom-construction is spread over or penetrates ego-structure the more likely it is to correspond to a phase of ego-development. In other words, the complexity of the obsessional neurosis is a tribute to the scope, vigour and elasticity of its defensive functions. The obsessional neurosis is indeed the most elastic of all neuroses. And it is well that it should be so. For the task of the obsessional neurosis is an important and difficult one. It is to permit a regressive flight from the anxieties induced by advancing development, and at the same time to stem that regression. It is not


1 Read before the Thirteenth International Psycho-Analytical Congress, Lucerne, 1934, and here slightly amplified.

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