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Kris, A.O. (1988). Some Clinical Applications of the Distinction Between Divergent and Convergent Conflicts. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 69:431-441.

(1988). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 69:431-441

Some Clinical Applications of the Distinction Between Divergent and Convergent Conflicts

Anton O. Kris


The concept of two kinds of mental conflicts, convergent and divergent, is applied to an important aspect of the therapeutic action of psychoanalysis: the way in which the relationship between pre-oedipal and oedipal components of neurosis is dealt with. The concepts of convergent and divergent conflicts and their relationship to an operational formulation of the psychoanalytic procedure, the method of free association, are presented briefly. The two-conflict model obviates the need either to abandon the concept of conflict or to assign an early developmental origin prematurely to some of the patient's problems. Awareness of the two kinds of conflicts, with their different forms of opposition, resistances, patterns of resolution, and kinds of insight, permits the analyst to maintain a consistent focus on interpretation and mastery of resistance as the first aim of analytic work. These concepts are illustrated in an extensive case example from an analysis. A consideration of manifest bisexuality and its analytic treatment as an example of an additional kind of clinical situation—problems of choice—concludes the paper.

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