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Opatow, B. (1993). On the Drive-Rootedness of Psychoanalytic Ego Psychology. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 74:437-457.

(1993). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 74:437-457

On the Drive-Rootedness of Psychoanalytic Ego Psychology

Barry Opatow


This paper attempts, hypothetico-deductively, to conceptualise psychoanalysis on the level of fundamental theory. I begin by exploring the relevance for psychoanalytic theory of recent developments in the brain and cognitive sciences. Their site of articulation is identified as the concept of consciousness. I proceed to develop a conceptual integration of consciousness into psychoanalytic drive theory. This

reveals the wish as the original psychical entity, with a self-process imbricated in its structure. Narcissism is shown to be sexually grounded, vitally constitutive, and intrinsically aggressive. It becomes possible, using the neighbouring sciences as well, to work out a theory of the origin of the secondary process and early ego formation. My approach provides a view of mental development in which identification and repression represent two aspects of a unitary activity that structures the mind. This allows the unconscious and consciousness to be brought into dialectical relation. Implications follow for the 'activity of the repressed' and the theory of paranoia.

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