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Ernsberger, C. (1995). “The Modern School” Twenty Years Later. Mod. Psychoanal., 20(2):199-205.

(1995). Modern Psychoanalysis, 20(2):199-205

“The Modern School” Twenty Years Later

Claire Ernsberger, Ph.D.

The author offers reflections on developments since 1976 in the “modern school” and its theory of technique as contrasted with that of the “classical school.” She finds that the presumed mainstream of analytic thought has the theories of the modern psychoanalysts near its center, now, whereas they were considered much more marginal in 1976—even though the modern theories, in the area of technique at least, have only deepened, rather than having themselves shifted. She lists some avenues that modern analysts are now newly exploring—in countertransference theory, for instance. She reiterates that modern psychoanalysts are resistance analysts.

Recalling the origin of modern psychoanalysis as a technique for working with schizophrenics that expanded to include patients with a wide range of narcissistic disorders, the author summarizes the fundamentals of modern analytic technical theory and identifies two essential features, unchanged since 1976—or indeed since much earlier. They are: first, that narcissism is a self-destructive, rather than a self-loving, operation—arising from the failure of the two drives to function productively in harmony; and second, that it is the communicative function of the emotions themselves that provides the medium for therapy and cure.

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