The construction of an explicit model of a scientific theory allows the inquiring scientist to survey the breadth and depth of the theory, to discover gaps in the theory that can be filled in, and to note the overlap with other theories. A theoretical model also provides a device for generating new and significant questions for investigation.
The theoretical model of psychoanalysis is essentially intended to account for psychological processes of both the developing organism (the primary model) and the mature organism (the secondary model). The psychoanalytic model considers as aspects of a unitary process all the phenomena characterized in traditional psychology under the headings of conation, cognition, and affection. The primary and secondary models of conation, cognition, and affection are derived by Rapaport from the basic model: need®need-satisfying object and/or delay®need gratification and/or affect discharge and/or ideation. It is not necessary that this model be rooted in invariable observational sequences. Its hypothetical character stimulates observation and fruitful experimentation so long as the model systematically coordinates the constructs to be used and holds out the hope that meaningful deductions can be made from it.
The primitive model of conation is: restlessness®appearance of breast and sucking®subsidence of restlessness. Restlessness is conceptualized as tension having its source in a drive (motivation); breast and sucking are conceptualized as devices for lowering tension and represent the object and the discharge of the drive. The subsiding of restlessness is conceptualized as reduction of tension, or gratification. The pleasure principle is the conceptual representation of the directional tendency of this motivation.
From this basic model one can deduce the primary model of cognition: drive®absence of object and/or delay®hallucinatory image of the memory of
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gratification. (This sequence of primitive ideation now rests on a foundation of verified observations in situations, for example, of extreme deprivation.) Rapaport refers to the wealth of evidence from developmental and comparative psychology to illustrate the genetics of cognition. He discusses drivecathexis and the quantitative conditions necessary for hallucinations, the problem of bound and freely mobile cathexes (primary and secondary process).
The primary model of affects conceives of restlessness as the charge of affect which comes to expression in motor and secretory discharge. This, however, represents only a fragment of the drivecathexis.
Problems of formation of structures which maintain tension (thresholds) and discharge it are dealt with as the core of psychoanalytic ego psychology. The autonomy of these structures constitutes the secondary model, and it is the totality of such structures that is called ego. Rapaport systematically traces the deduction, from the primary models, of (a) derivative motivations from drive motivations, (b) transformations of mobile cathexis into bound cathexes, (c) relationships of pleasure and reality principles, (d) the conversion of drive discharges into complexaffects, (e) the development of simple drive-bound ideation into complex forms of thought.
This article, together with several companion articles published elsewhere, represents a major achievement in systematizing the conceptual basis of psychoanalytic ego psychology which Freud set forth in his metapsychological papers and in the seventh chapter of The Interpretation of Dreams. It ranks with Bibring's similar attempt with instinct theory, and Fenichel's efforts to order the clinical aspects of psychoanalysis. It merits careful study by all psychoanalysts.