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London, N.J. (1973). An Essay on Psychoanalytic Theory: Two Theories of Schizophrenia. Part I: Review and Critical Assessment of the Development of the Two Theories. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:169-178.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:169-178

An Essay on Psychoanalytic Theory: Two Theories of Schizophrenia. Part I: Review and Critical Assessment of the Development of the Two Theories

Nathaniel J. London


I have distinguished two main psychoanalytic theories of schizophrenia which I have termed the Unitary Theory and the Specific Theory. They appear incompatible with each other, yet both derive from Freud's Classical Theory of schizophrenia. They correspond to two main contemporary orientations toward schizophrenia. Freud favoured the Unity Theory for the same reason that he developed it: in order to provide a unified theory for schizophrenia and neuroses. I have critically assessed the primary roles assigned by the Unitary Theory to instinctual drives, anxiety and defence and conclude that the theory fails to encompass present knowledge of schizophrenic behaviours. I submit that, at this point in the development of psychoanalysis, pursuit of a unified and cohesive psychoanalytic theory is an unwise research strategy. I recommend, instead, that psychoanalytic metapsychology be viewed as a group of interrelated but separable theories. I maintain that the Specific Theory ('decathexis of the mental representations of objects') holds more promise for the psychoanalytic study of schizophrenia. I have noted that the term 'decathexis' is defined differently in the Unitary and Specific Theories. This double definition is based on ambiguities in the definition of instinctual drives and their cathexes. I have separated the definition of instinctual drives as intrapsychic motivating forces from their definition as superordinate 'psychic energies' responsible for developing and sustaining mental representations. This distinction helps distinguish the two theories of schizophrenia and will provide a basis for reformulating the Specific Theory in Part II of this essay.

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