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Beres, D. (1965). Structure and Function in Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:53-62.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:53-62

Structure and Function in Psycho-Analysis

David Beres

Theory in any science is subject to constant scrutiny and revision. This is especially true in a young science such as psycho-analysis. Heinz Hartmann in his many books and papers has made a lasting contribution to the elaboration and clarification of psycho-analytic theory, and it is fitting on the occasion of his 70th birthday to give further consideration to some basic theoretical problems. I shall direct my comments to the role of function and structure in psycho-analytic theory.

It may seem at first thought that, with all the unsolved and controversial issues in psycho-analysis, I have chosen a topic without challenge and about which there would be no disagreement. This is, however, not the case. It is not necessary to emphasize the importance of precision in the postulation of concepts. The fact is, however, that we have become accustomed in psycho-analytic theorizing to use certain words and phrases which on closer examination prove to be tautological, analogical or pseudo-explanatory. I believe this to be the case especially in writings on function and structure in psycho-analysis.

It is not my intention to revive the conflict between Functionalism and Structuralism which occupied American psychology at the turn of the century. We take for granted now as much the inter-dependence of structure and function as we do the inter-dependence of heredity and environment. The questions that I raise do not lie in this area of general agreement. They lie rather in the sense in which the terms 'function' and 'structure' are used in psycho-analytic theory, and particularly in the different meanings that the terms have for different authors.

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