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Balint, M. (1949). Early Developmental States of the Ego. Primary Object Love. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 30:265-273.

(1949). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 30:265-273

Early Developmental States of the Ego. Primary Object Love

Michael Balint

The genetic approach is the principal method we use in our science of psycho-analysis; a mental phenomenon observed in the present is explained by tracing it back to a previous one and by demonstrating how far and by what external and internal influences the previous process was changed into the present one. This crab-like thinking must, however, come to a halt somewhere, i.e. where the previous earlier phenomenon, the original one can no longer be observed but must be inferred from what can be observed. In the early years of psycho-analysis theoretical research reached as far as the Oedipus situation, i.e. to the third to fifth year of life. The theoretical gains thus achieved led to greater power of observation and in turn the better trained observers could verify all the theoretical assumptions.

Naturally research has not come to a standstill and time and again attempts have been made to infer still earlier mental states from observations. This new situation, however, is utterly different from the previous one. Then only one theory, or more correctly, two complementary theories—that of the classic Oedipus situation and that of the polymorph-perverse nature of infantile sexuality—stood to discussion, to-day we have to deal with several theories, often contradicting one another. Slight differences in theoretical constructions are understandable but we hear and read of theories which diverge considerably and are often diametrically opposite. These differences somehow seem to depend on geography in a way that one is justified in speaking of regional opinions.

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