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(1967). Journal of the Hillside Hospital. XII, 1963: On the Problem of Character Neurosis. Maxwell Gitelson. Pp. 3-17.. Psychoanal Q., 36:134.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Journal of the Hillside Hospital. XII, 1963: On the Problem of Character Neurosis. Maxwell Gitelson. Pp. 3-17.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:134

Journal of the Hillside Hospital. XII, 1963: On the Problem of Character Neurosis. Maxwell Gitelson. Pp. 3-17.

This succinct review of character, symptoms, neurotic character, character neurosis, character neurotic types, and borderline cases begins by defining character as an adaptive synthesis of biological givens, the quality of the infantile environment, psychic structure, identifications, and social mores. The phallic position has been reached and the Oedipus complex resolved. Psychoneurosis is evidence of the failure of defense and a partial disruption of this synthesis; symptom formation closes the breach. Neurotic character formation involves the Oedipus complex with a quality of compelled and patterned acting out; repression and regression are hardly seen. The character neurotic presents the picture and structure of defense; the personality is shaped by the neurosis. In contrast with the neurotic character the conflict is internalized; in contrast with the psychoneurotic symptom, secondary gain is greatly enhanced.

Different character types illustrate different constellations of factors entering into character; i.e., erotic, compulsive, narcissistic, and their mixtures. The borderline cases contrast with those character structures which stem from the vicissitudes of the Oedipus complex. Here, the central conflict is the preoedipal relationship to the mothering person. Instinctual and ego development are grossly out of phase. There has been a lack of stable object relations and compatible identifications.

The disorders of character may be more prevalent today partly as a result of the psychological climate of families in which parental status, differentiation, and functions have become uncertain. Repression is no longer the primary and central mechanism of defense and adaptation.

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Article Citation

(1967). Journal of the Hillside Hospital. XII, 1963. Psychoanal. Q., 36:134

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