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Isaacs, S. (1945). 'Notes on Metapsychology as Process Theory': Some Comments. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 26:58-62.

(1945). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 26:58-62

'Notes on Metapsychology as Process Theory': Some Comments

Susan Isaacs

Dr. Brierley's valuable paper (1944) carries us several steps forward in the ordering and linking up of different parts of the theory of psycho-analysis. The width of ground it covers and the wealth of psychological detail which it embraces might easily be overlooked because of its highly condensed content and abstract style. I am in agreement with its general point of view and most of its detail. Some points, however, seem to call for further expansion, whilst from others I wish to dissent, at least in part.

1. On p. 100, Dr. Brierley gives her view that memory-traces, the registrations of experience in the psyche, are better thought of as experience-traces, not as simply 'sensory'. 'Traces need not be thought of as literal imprints stamped in the mind but as functional predispositions', she says. They include impulse and affect, and are predisposing patterns of response.

In this connection, Dr. Brierley points out that it was under the influence of the old associationist terminology that Freud called the registration of experiences in the psyche 'memory-traces'. The earlier associationists (Wundt in particular—his influence being paramount on the Continent when Freud first formulated his general theories of mental life) tended to overlook what impulse and affect contribute to the processes of perception and of memory. Under this influence, Freud's earliest formulations were not yet fully equal to his clinical work, to his own discovery of the fundamental significance of conative and affective elements, of wishes and drives and emotions in the cognitive work of the mind; although, as Dr.

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