Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To sort articles by Rankā€¦

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

You can specify Rank as the sort order when searching (it’s the default) which will put the articles which best matched your search on the top, and the complete results in descending relevance to your search. This feature is useful for finding the most important articles on a specific topic.

You can also change the sort order of results by selecting rank at the top of the search results pane after you perform a search. Note that rank order after a search only ranks up to 1000 maximum results that were returned; specifying rank in the search dialog ranks all possibilities before choosing the final 1000 (or less) to return.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

O'Shaughnessy, E. (1981). A Clinical Study of a Defensive Organization. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 62:359-369.

(1981). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 62:359-369

A Clinical Study of a Defensive Organization

Edna O'Shaughnessy


This paper is concerned with those patients whose lives oscillate between periods of over-restricted object relations based on a defensive organization, and periods of exposure to almost overwhelming anxiety from their objects when their defensive organization fails. The paper reports a twelve-year analysis of one such patient, a young man whose defensive organization had broken down. The clinical material shows how, in the conditions an analysis tries to provide—interpretive understanding, emotional containment, and analytic perseverance—he first reestablished and then maintained his defensive organization long enough to halt the oscillation between exposure and restriction, and to resume instead his forward development.

In the course of this clinical study, the nature of a defensive organization is itself examined. I suggest that a distinction be drawn between defences and defensive organization. Defences allow for the working through of anxiety and are a normal part of forward development. A defensive organization is an overall pathological formation, a fixation of object relations when progress is impossible; its benefits come from the elimination of anxiety from object relations, and inherently, as the clinical material shows, such object relations offer the possibility of exploitation.

As regards technique, the paper shows the necessity of recognizing the patient's need to be analysed for a long time within the framework of his defensive organization. This allows his ego to strengthen and the area of his anxieties to diminish—changes which will enable him, often only after many years, to resume his forward development.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.