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(1959). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (An Annual) 11, 1956: Elizabeth R. Zetzel, M.D. (Boston). 'An Approach to the Relation between Concept and Content in Psychoanalytic Theory (with special reference to the work of Melanie Klein and her followers).' Pp. 99–124.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:74.
    
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (An Annual) 11, 1956: Elizabeth R. Zetzel, M.D. (Boston). 'An Approach to the Relation between Concept and Content in Psychoanalytic Theory (with special reference to the work of Melanie Klein and her followers).' Pp. 99–124.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:74

The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (An Annual) 11, 19561: Elizabeth R. Zetzel, M.D. (Boston). 'An Approach to the Relation between Concept and Content in Psychoanalytic Theory (with special reference to the work of Melanie Klein and her followers).' Pp. 99–124.

In addition to the task of clinical validation of analytical findings, theoretical formulations in psycho-analysis need to distinguish between and correlate propositions mainly related to the content of the unconscious mind and propositions of an abstract conceptual nature regarding the nature and function of the mental apparatus. This thesis is illustrated in the following ways. First abstract formulations divorced from meaningful content may be compatible with divergent points of view, as illustrated by a comparative study of recent papers by Hartmann, Kris, and Loewenstein and by Anna Freud with formulations of Mrs. Klein. The area chosen for comparison relates to the types of conflict aroused by aggression and the means by which the aims of aggression are modified. Second, failure to make adequate distinction between concept and content may lead to semantic confusion as illustrated in Mrs. Klein's premise of an active death instinct and her suggestion that anxiety derives from fear of the death instinct; contentions in which her elaborations of content are not necessarily controversial but which are highly speculative in themselves. It is also suggested that the abstract, objective conceptual approach (of Hartmann, Kris, and Loewenstein) for instance, may have significant limitations in a science based on essentially subjective concrete data. The thesis of the conflict-free autonomous ego is set alongside Susan Isaacs' definition of fantasy as 'the mental expression of instinct', in the light of which the concept of neutralized energy would appear relatively unacceptable. While Hartmann emphasizes neutralization as a means of liberating instinctual energy from its unconscious sources, Isaacs contends that ego freedom depends on unconscious fantasies which endow the overt activity with unconscious value.

It is obviously essential, if Melanie Klein's work is to be correlated within the main body of analytic theory, that she should indicate more clearly how and in what manner true reality testing and secondary process thinking can be understood in terms of her basic premises; how and in what manner maturation plays a role in different stages of development. On the other hand it appears that valuable though Hartmann's conception of conflict-free autonomous ego functions may be from a conceptual and descriptive point of view, it is nevertheless desirable that these formulations be correlated more closely with detailed description as to the relationship between neutralization and specific phantasy content. This correlation of concept and content is significant not only from a theoretical but from a clinical point of view.

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1 Published by International Universities Press, New York, and Imago Publishing Co., London.


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Article Citation

(1959). The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child (An Annual) 11, 19561. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:74

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WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.