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(1960). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 29:447-448.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 29:447-448

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

November 24, 1959. THE CONCEPT 'PRECONSCIOUS' AND THE STRUCTURAL THEORY. Jacob A. Arlow, M.D. and Charles Brenner, M.D.

Freud replaced the topographical hypothesis with the structural theory in 1923. Since then there has been a tendency to use both concepts conjointly, although they have fundamental differences. In the topographic hypothesis, conflict was seen as existing between the unconscious (and therefore inaccessible instinctual forces) and the accessible conscious (counterinstinctual defensive forces). The major defense was repression; symptoms occurred with the threat of failure of repression, and therapy involved the abrogation of repression. In the structural hypothesis, conflict was viewed as occurring between derivatives of instinctual impulses and a group of psychic elements which have as their function adaptation to reality. The structural theory allowed for the fact that instinctual forces being defended against might nevertheless be accessible to consciousness. Therapy concerned itself not only with the recovery of amnestic material but also with working through, which permits the integration of the material into the ego, and with the analysis of superego pathology. Finally, the newer hypothesis corrected earlier errors concerning the origin of anxiety.

The authors suggest that the two hypotheses are incompatible and that the structural hypothesis is superior, accounting for all the facts explained by topographical hypothesis, and others in addition.

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