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Modell, A.H. (1963). Primitive Object Relationships and the Predisposition to Schizophrenia. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:282-292.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:282-292

Primitive Object Relationships and the Predisposition to Schizophrenia

Arnold H. Modell

One of Freud's proudest achievements was the transformation of the therapeutic relationship which takes place in psycho-analysis into a tool of scientific investigation. Freud also believed that 'the future will probably attribute far greater importance to psycho-analysis as the science of the unconscious than as a therapeutic procedure' (Freud, 1926). Nevertheless in recent years the importance of clinical research has been underestimated and a growing cleavage has developed between the researcher and the clinician. Scientific investigation, in common with all other forms of human group endeavours, is subject to moods as well as to the whim of fashion, and this has led to some disappointment with the contribution of psycho-analytic psychiatry to the problem of schizophrenia, which has resulted in a turning away from the investigation of the psychology of schizophrenia, with the hope that biochemistry and neurophysiology will solve its riddle.

Let us consider the relation between clinical research in psychiatry and the investigations of basic science. Every generation of psychiatrists seems to have faced this problem. I quote from a lecture given by C. Macfie Campbell (1935): 'The prestige attached to research dealing with the impersonal process of diseases leads some to hold that further progress in psychiatric investigation must await advances in the basic sciences. It is dangerous, however, for psychiatry to take this dependent attitude towards the solution of its special problems and to demand too much from other disciplines … Human nature cannot be adequately analyzed by the methods of chemistry and physiology and general biology.

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