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Waelder, R. (1967). Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety: Forty Years Later. Psychoanal Q., 36:1-36.
(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:1-36
Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety: Forty Years Later
Robert Waelder, Ph.D.
This, then, is the rough balance sheet. Equality of id and ego have long become part and parcel of psychoanalytic thought and psychoanalysts try to distinguish between drive and ego aspect in various psychic activities, without much thought that it could be otherwise. All the time, however, whether teleological concepts are ultimately satisfactory remains in doubt as it always has been and, I am afraid, is likely to remain.
Id and ego are handled today in a more schematic fashion than Freud had intended them to be. The revision of the theory of (neurotic) anxiety and the realization of a variety of defense
mechanisms have borne rich fruit and have changed the outlook and the practice of psychoanalysis. The attempt to construct a unified theory of anxiety, encompassing both anxiety as a consequence of dammed-up libido and anxiety as a signal in danger, has not been successful, and most analysts do not feel a need for such a unified theory in the first place because they do not believe in the existence of the first type of anxiety. However, there seem to be relations between anxiety, or at least its more pathological manifestations, and sexuality, and the theory should give an account of these relations; the concept of sexualized anxiety, developed later, is an important contribution in this direction but does not, in my opinion, exhaust the subject of the relations between anxiety and sexuality.
On a number of other points, Freud's ideas have been quietly accepted and become noncontroversial parts of the clinical theory of psychoanalysis. I would mention in this group the theory of inhibitions as due either to a sexualization of an ego function or to a need for self-punishment or to a general impoverishment through absorption by an inner process. There are also points in which Freud's suggestions have as yet not been given sufficient thought; I would mention among them the role of countercathexis in pain, both physical and mental.
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