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Jacobs, T. (2009). Charles Brenner, M.D.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 90(4):953-955.

(2009). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 90(4):953-955


Charles Brenner, M.D.

Theodore Jacobs

(Final version accepted 8 July 2009)

With the death of Charles Brenner on June 19, 2008, psychoanalysis lost one of its greatest treasures.

In a career that spanned more than sixty years, Charlie, as he was known to friends and colleagues throughout the world, enriched the field he loved and to which he devoted his life as prolific author, research teacher, astute clinician, and wise mentor to scores of colleagues.

Charlie's written works are world renowned. He authored four influential books and countless articles on topics which ranged from his early publications in the fields of neurology and neurophysiology to his last paper, a rethinking of the theory of drives, presented to the New York Psychoanalytic Institute a few months before his death. Just a year earlier he published a monograph Psychoanalysis; or Mind and Meaning, that was an elegant summing up of his life-long views on the central place of conflict in human psychology.

From first to last, Charlie was an ego psychologist who viewed the mind as consisting of an array of interweaving forces that are in continual conflict. These warring forces, which give rise to the compromise formations that are expressed in all mental activity, normal as well as pathological, ultimately derive from childhood experiences—‘the calamities of childhood’ Charlie termed them—that produce enduring—and inevitably conflictual—wishes, fears, fantasies, prohibitions and defenses.

Charlie stated his views with rare skill, in a style that, although deliberately plain and unadorned, was always engaging.

[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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