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Ekstein, R. (1966). Pychoanalytic Concepts and the Structural Theory: By Jacob A. Arlow and Charles Brenner. (New York: Int. Univ. Press, Pp. 201. $4.00.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 47:581-583.

(1966). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 47:581-583

Pychoanalytic Concepts and the Structural Theory: By Jacob A. Arlow and Charles Brenner. (New York: Int. Univ. Press, Pp. 201. $4.00.)

Review by:
Rodolf Ekstein

The authors, two seasoned and brilliant teachers of psycho-analysis, follow a current trend in psycho-analytic literature of attempting to bring psycho-analytic theory up to date. This labour of systematization is expressed in contributions by authors such as Gill (1959), Holt (1965), Rapaport (1959) and blueprints for such systematization have also been frequently suggested by authors such as Erikson, Anna Freud, Hartmann, Kris (1947) and others.

Freud himself, of course, contributed his important papers on metapsychology and gave himself the task of establishing the basic metapsychological assumptions underlying the psycho-analytic body of knowledge. However, he never quite carried out this task although he seemed deeply committed to it. He actually changed these basic assumptions several times but as he advanced new concepts of a higher degree of theoretical sophistication he still continued to use the older notions side by side with newer constructs as did others in psycho-analytic literature. Although we may understand this in the light of his ceaseless productivity and creativity which did not permit him to stop and finish the theoretical foundation even though he aimed at it, we may also wonder whether the inherent nature of psycho-analytic work, as well as his particular scientific style, might not be responsible for this state of affairs which the systematizers deplore and wish to change.

Rapaport and Gill (1959) suggested that,

the future development of psychoanalysis as a systematic science may well depend on such continuing efforts to establish the assumptions on which psychoanalytic theory rests.


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