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Rosenfeld, H. (1959). An Investigation Into the Psycho-Analytic Theory of Depression. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 40:105-129.

(1959). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 40:105-129

An Investigation Into the Psycho-Analytic Theory of Depression

Herbert Rosenfeld

In this paper I am attempting to give a detailed account of the work of the majority of those analysts who have made considerable contributions to the psychopathology of depression One purpose of this study has been, first to discover the main trends in the development of the theory of depression by clarifying the views of each author, and afterwards, through a detailed comparison of these, to arrive at some picture of the differences and similarities between the various theories advanced. In order to achieve this, it was necessary first to make detailed abstracts of the work of each author and by a process of condensation to arrive at the relevant factors. During this survey of the literature, I was struck by the fact that certain points constantly came up for discussion, the most outstanding being: the role of constitutional factors; the importance of aggression or increased ambivalence; the importance of oral elements; the role of processes of introjection and identification; the importance of narcissism; the nature of the early object relations; the importance of processes of splitting of objects and the self into good and bad parts; the origin and the nature of the depressive superego; the importance of certain infantile phases or periods, and their relation to the development of adult depression; the relationship of paranoia and paranoid anxieties to depression; the relationship of mania and depression. This last aspect I decided to omit almost completely from the discussion, since it is too large a subject for inclusion; I have therefore limited myself to depression per se.

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