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(1956). British Journal of Medical Psychology. XXVII, 1954: The Origins and Status of Dynamic Psychiatry. E. Stengel. Pp. 193-200.. Psychoanal Q., 25:126.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: British Journal of Medical Psychology. XXVII, 1954: The Origins and Status of Dynamic Psychiatry. E. Stengel. Pp. 193-200.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:126

British Journal of Medical Psychology. XXVII, 1954: The Origins and Status of Dynamic Psychiatry. E. Stengel. Pp. 193-200.

Dynamic psychiatry 'has been understood to be psychiatry informed by psychoanalysis, a psychiatry in which psychological factors have largely taken the place previously held by heredity or hypothetical organic causes. It has rightly or wrongly become associated with an exclusive environmentalist approach to the etiology of mental disorders.' The author names some of the originators of Freud's dynamic concepts: Brücke, Meynert, Fechner, and Herbart, whose physiological 'dynamic' attitude was in turn influenced by dynamics of the physics of that period; Charcot, who stressed the importance of the psychological factors; and Hughlings Jackson, in whose works there were concepts of resistance and of conflicting forces producing symptoms, and the idea of a hierarchy in the nervous system. In Freud's On Aphasia there is already a definite emphasis on dynamic attitudes. He rejected the idea that the symptoms of speech disorders could be caused solely by lesions in circumscribed areas of the brain, and he suggested that these symptoms represent a change in the mode of function induced by the impact of damage or stress to the whole structure. Freud's discussion of the apparatus of speech not only showed that it is the organic substrate for speech but also implied the hierarchal organizations of this function; this appears to be a forerunner of the psychic apparatus of later theories. Freud criticized the tendency to confuse psychological with physiological processes and advocated the doctrine of 'psychophysiological parallelism' in which the physical and the psychic are dependent concomitants. Stengel points out that in The Project,1 Freud disregarded this doctrine and tried to explain mental processes in terms of physiology and anatomy, an attempt which he soon abandoned. In no way did Freud deny the structural basis of mental processes or the role of heredity and constitution. Stengel admits, however, that from the writings of some 'medical psychologists' one might get the impression that the mind is a closed system getting energy only from itself. In spite of the fact that such attitudes are quite different from Freud's basic concepts, they perhaps explain why dynamic psychiatry is misunderstood to imply that mental disorders are based only on psychological motivations and influences.


1 Freud: Project for a Scientific Psychology. In: The Origins of Psychoanalysis. Letters to Wilhelm Fliess. Edited by Marie Bonaparte, Anna Freud, Ernst Kris. New York: Basic Books, Inc., 1954.

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Article Citation

(1956). British Journal of Medical Psychology. XXVII, 1954. Psychoanal. Q., 25:126

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