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Gelman, R.L. (1960). Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases. CXXIX, 1959: A Methodological Study of Freudian Theory. I. Basic Concepts. Pp. 11-19; II. The Libido Theory. Pp. 133-143; III. Narcissism, Bisexuality, and the Dual Instinct Theory. Pp. 207-221; IV. The Structural Hypothesis, the Problem of Anxiety, and Post-Freudian Ego Psychology. Pp. 341-356. Abram Kardiner, Aaron Karush, and Lionel Ovesey.. Psychoanal Q., 29:599-601.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases. CXXIX, 1959: A Methodological Study of Freudian Theory. I. Basic Concepts. Pp. 11-19; II. The Libido Theory. Pp. 133-143; III. Narcissism, Bisexuality, and the Dual Instinct Theory. Pp. 207-221; IV. The Structural Hypothesis, the Problem of Anxiety, and Post-Freudian Ego Psychology. Pp. 341-356. Abram Kardiner, Aaron Karush, and Lionel Ovesey.
This series of four articles attempts to subject to a critical examination the assumptions on which freudian theory is based. The authors are concerned with the methodology and reasoning used by Freud to explain his clinical observations, and they offer alternative explanations from Sandor Rado's adaptational psychodynamics for those hypotheses of Freud that they feel are defective.
They agree with Freud's general 'assumptions': 1, adult behavior is rooted in childhood experiences; 2, frustration of sexual needs leads to neurosis; 3, much of behavior is integrated by unconscious mental processes, because these assumptions are capable of validation or refutation through clinical investigation. However, the authors feel that Freud's libido theory, stressing the sexual instincts, its energetic concept, and psychosexual development, cannot be supported by psychological data. They discuss freudian concepts which they feel do not add to psychological knowledge, those concepts which they hold as scientifically useful, and those they formulate as new. In reviewing the origins of Freud's earliest concepts, they stress that the discoveries in The Interpretation of Dreams were inferences drawn from observations of aberrant behavior induced by unacceptable motivations, representing the person's adaptive devices for coping with a conflict and consisting of a modification of the primitive infantile wish, in accordance with the necessities of logic and security, i.e., 'secondary process'.
The fundamental dynamic and topographic principles of freudian psychology with which they agree are: 1, motivation; 2, pleasure-pain principle; 3, the unconscious; 4, psychodynamics; 5, principle of defense; 6, ontogenesis; and 7, continuity of behavior. The concept of psychic energy is rejected as an assumption which adds nothing to our knowledge; rather it is an attempt to interpret psychological events in terms of physical forces. The authors feel that there is no neural basis for the concept of psychic energy. They maintain that Freud felt the bulk of human behavior to be instinctual and predetermined by organic evolution. In contrast they believe most of human behavior to be adaptive and learned. While acknowledging that Freud was aware of the influence of parental character and of cultural demands, they feel that the use of energy concepts tells us nothing about relationships between individuals and they object to attempts at quantifying affects.
The major disagreement seems to be in the authors' attempts to explain human behavior in terms of interaction between society's demands and the individual's drives, and Freud's formulation of intrapsychic conflicts. They advance explanations of character traits, as well as the Oedipus complex in terms of the child's responses to parental behavior and establishment of dominance-submission patterns, and refute the freudian idea of unconscious memories. They
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apparently agree with Freud's concept of the depreciated role of woman in our society.
Rejecting Freud's views that narcissism is the result of investment of libidinal energies in the ego, the authors advance a formulation of narcissism without 'energetic trappings', which concern itself with the selfconcept of the infant in the first months of life as primarynarcissism. Secondarynarcissism is described as a regression to the earliest self-image in which objects are merely extensions of the self. They discuss homosexuality from the adaptational point of view of inhibition of 'assertion and aggression' rather than from the position of bisexuality as a result of identification with both parents.
Repetition compulsion and aggression are reviewed in terms of mastery and ego adaptive mechanisms. Here, too, the authors overemphasize Freud's attempts to explain these phenomena and instead speak of the observations of clinical behavior as though there can be only one view. For example, the child, abandoned by his mother, who plays a game of throwing the doll under the bed and retrieving it, is not repeating the painful trauma but is attempting to master it. The authors imply that Freud would have rejected both explanations as mutually exclusive.
There is a section devoted to the adaptational view of sadism and masochism, both seen as mediators of the pain-pleasure principle. Masochism is viewed as pain-absorption to achieve the ultimate goal of pleasure. Sadism is seen as adaptive aggression against a dangerous situation. For example, the inflicter of pain in sexual behavior wards off anticipated injury by his actions. The nuances of sadistic behavior which are not adaptive are brushed aside as 'poetic excursions into vivid imagery'.
The authors emphasize the differences between classical and adaptational theory. The former they equate with instinct psychology, in which the drive furnishes not only the goal of an activity but also the means for executive action. Adaptational theory, on the other hand, deals not only with inborn patterns but also with 'the contingency of the integrative pattern on experience and the contingency of motivation on the integrative pattern'. But since when are considerations of ego function not an integral part of 'classical theory'? Apparently at the authors' convenience.
In discussing post-freudian ego psychology, the authors agree with Hartmann's thesis that adaptation is a central concept of psychoanalysis and his idea of conflict-free ego spheres. However, they disagree with his synthesis of a new concept of ego functions and Freud's instinctual and energic hypothesis. They feel that ego functions are independent and not products of the various phases of development of an instinctual organization. They point out, in summary, that the usefulness of Freud's psychological constructions are impaired by the instinctual and energic frame of reference in which they are placed. They hold that their own theories are built around Freud's dynamic point of view and his concept of unconscious mental activity.
How the development of the authors' these would read devoid of polemics is not obvious. Perhaps it would be clearer. At any rate they seem to be unaware of the energic implications and content resident in the parts of freudian theory that they accept. In their zeal to get rid of the theory of psychosexual
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development, they are impelled to get rid of all energic hypotheses. This is done cavalierly, leaving a large gap in an already not too well-organized theoretical system.
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Gelman, R.L. (1960). Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases. CXXIX, 1959. Psychoanal. Q., 29:599-601