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Paniagua, C. (2009). On: Repression and Splitting: Towards a Method of Conceptual Comparison. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(2):381-382.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(2):381-382

On: Repression and Splitting: Towards a Method of Conceptual Comparison Related Papers

Cecilio Paniagua

Dear Editors,

Ever since I translated Moore and Fine's (1990) Glossary I have been keenly aware of the crucial importance of definitions for the advancement of our science. Without clear concepts we are in constant risk of pseudo-communicating in a babel of tongues, even wondering whether analysts “share sufficient common ground to belong to the same discipline” (Tuckett, 1998, p. 431).

It is for this reason that I read with great interest Hinshelwood's (2008) article on the comparison of the concepts ‘repression’ and ‘splitting’. His invitation to “a genuine controversy about the two terms” (p. 518), and the fine scientific spirit shown in his conclusion that “not all questions were answered as predicted” (p. 517) encouraged me to address critically some of the definitional points in his semantic-clinical research.

Hinshelwood took as central in the definition of repression the use of defensive substitution, whereas the typical defence used in splitting would be annihilation. I thought Hinshelwood may have mistaken repression for its consequences: the subsequent displacements, symbolizations, condensations, and the myriad mechanisms the mind resorts to trying to find compromise formations in order to avoid the repressed unpleasant affects.

Hinshelwood conceptualized splitting as “a defence that allows no representation” (p. 515).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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