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Fairbairn, W.D. (1958). On the Nature and Aims of Psycho-Analytical Treatment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 39:374-385.

(1958). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 39:374-385

On the Nature and Aims of Psycho-Analytical Treatment

W. Ronald D. Fairbairn, M.D.

In the light of the theoretical standpoint which I have come to adopt, I feel prompted to record some reflections occasioned by a recent paper 'On the Theory of Psycho-Analytic Treatment' by Thomas S. Szasz, through whose courtesy I enjoyed the privilege of reading the paper in advance of its publication in this journal (7).

In brief, my theoretical position may be said to be characterized by four main conceptual formulations: — viz. (a) a theory of dynamic psychical structure, (b) a theory to the effect that libidinal activity is inherently and primarily object-seeking, (c) a resulting theory of libidinal development couched, not in terms of presumptive zonal dominance, but in terms of the quality of dependence, and (d) a theory of the personality couched exclusively in terms of internal object-relationships. The first two of these formulations taken in combination may be said to represent a substitute for two of Freud's basic theories—his classic libido theory and his final theory of instincts. The third formulation is offered as a revision of Abraham's version of Freud's theory of libidinal development. And, finally, my object-relations theory of the personality is intended to replace Freud's description of the mental constitution in terms of the id, the ego, and the superego. It has assumed the form of a description in terms of a libidinal ego, a central ego and an antilibidinal ego, together with their respective internal objects; and the basic endopsychic situation so constituted is conceived as resulting from the splitting of an original, inherent, unitary ego and of the object originally introjected by it.

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