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Meissner, W.W. (1977). A Consideration of Some Learning Variables in the Context of Psychoanalytic Theory: Toward a Psychoanalytic Learning Perspective: By Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. (Psychological Issues, Vol. IX, No. 1, Monograph 33.) New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1975. 107 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 46:688-690.
(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:688-690
A Consideration of Some Learning Variables in the Context of Psychoanalytic Theory: Toward a Psychoanalytic Learning Perspective: By Stanley I. Greenspan, M.D. (Psychological Issues, Vol. IX, No. 1, Monograph 33.) New York: International Universities Press, Inc., 1975. 107 pp.
Review by: W. W. Meissner
The present monograph is a welcome addition to what has become a distinguished series of volumes. It attempts to bring some sense of integration and perspective to the amalgamation of several important areas of psychological thinking.
During the closing years of his distinguished career, David Rapaport became convinced that the most basic gap in psychoanalytic understanding was the absence of a theory of learning. While he did not feel that contemporary learning theories were adequate to bridge the gap, he indicated some of the first steps in that direction by envisioning the learning process in terms of structure formation. Greenspan takes the process an important step further and attempts to integrate the stimulus-response/reinforcement approach to behavioral learning theory with some aspects of psychoanalytic theory. The important questions to be asked are: First, how well is it done? And second, how valid is the undertaking?
The answer to the first question is clear and unequivocal—the undertaking has been carried off very well indeed and with considerable ingenuity. Not only does Greenspan demonstrate skill and imagination in picking the spots where integration can be meaningfully undertaken, but he demonstrates much insight in working these issues through. He also manages to raise a number of provocative and interesting questions in the course of his discussions.
As for the second question, the answer is more complicated. Greenspan approaches the problem of integration of psychoanalytic and learning variables from the behavioral theorist's perspective, which, of course, means that his objective is to show that analytic variables can be translated into behavioral terms.
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