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Schur, M. (1964). Symptom Formation and Character Formation—Contributions to Discussion of Prepublished Papers. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 45:147-150.

(1964). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 45:147-150

Symptom Formation and Character Formation—Contributions to Discussion of Prepublished Papers

Max Schur


The sequence of upsurge of an instinctual demand perceived by the ego as danger, signal anxiety, eventual emergence of a compromise, representing both the substitute gratification and the defence, describes the formation of a symptom. We meet, however, in neurotic illness a stratification of dangers and responses which determine its course and severity. In accordance with Freud's definition of a traumatic situation, any disruptive ego regression assumes increasingly the aspect of danger, becomes the source of anxiety and of further layers of defensive manoeuvres. In the original structure of the symptom, the conflict is mainly inter-systemic. With further stratification of danger, the conflict becomes also intra-systemic (Hartmann, 1950).

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