Login
Wilson, E., Jr. (1992). Psyche. XL, 1986: On the Relationship between Psychoanalysis and Systems Theory. Tomas Plänkers. Pp. 678-708.. Psychoanal Q., 61:139-140.

Welcome to PEP Web!

Viewing the full text of this document requires a subscription to PEP Web.

If you are coming in from a university from a registered IP address or secure referral page you should not need to log in. Contact your university librarian in the event of problems.

If you have a personal subscription on your own account or through a Society or Institute please put your username and password in the box below. Any difficulties should be reported to your group administrator.

Username:
Password:

Can't remember your username and/or password? If you have forgotten your username and/or password please click here and log in to the PaDS database. Once there you need to fill in your email address (this must be the email address that PEP has on record for you) and click "Send." Your username and password will be sent to this email address within a few minutes. If this does not work for you please contact your group organizer.

Athens or federation user? Login here.

Not already a subscriber? Order a subscription today.

Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Psyche. XL, 1986: On the Relationship between Psychoanalysis and Systems Theory. Tomas Plänkers. Pp. 678-708.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:139-140

Psyche. XL, 1986: On the Relationship between Psychoanalysis and Systems Theory. Tomas Plänkers. Pp. 678-708.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

Plänkers is critical of various attempts that have been made to reduce psychoanalysis to systems theory. These attempts implicitly claim a logical priority for systems theory. Plänkers reviews the development of systems theory and various interpretations


WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the PEPWeb subscriber and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form.
- 139 -

that have been proposed. The basic position emphasizes hierarchical organization, with the variation of elements within the system determined by the invariant overall structure. The impetus to link psychoanalytic theory to systems theory is the hope that there would then be a common language with non-analytic disciplines, and psychoanalysis would be freed of the stigma of being unscientific. The development of psychoanalytic thinking about adaptation and affect regulation (Hartmann, Rapaport, Joffe and Sandler, among others) led to a concept of psychic structure that seemed analogous to a systems-theoretic structure. The author examines in detail the work of Peterfreund, Bowlby, and Rosenblatt and Thickstun, among English speaking authors; and König, Ciompi, Stierlin, and Fürstenau, among German theorists. All these writers have attempted to integrate psychoanalysis and systems theory. None have broken with psychoanalysis, but have seen this attempt at integration as an improvement of the epistemological and scientific status of psychoanalysis.

Plänkers summarizes these various positions in general terms: they all seem to derive from Freud's position in the Project; they all attempt to link psychoanalysis with general psychology, that is, to develop hypotheses of high-level generality concerning structure and function of the human psyche; and finally, they (Fürstenau, Stierlin) attempt to establish external links to sociology or (Peterfreund, Sandler, König, Ciompi) links to other, internal intrapsychic processes. The goal of this systems-theoretic approach is to place psychoanalysis on a par with other sciences and to open up new fields of possibility for psychoanalytic research. Conclusions of its proponents vary between the claim that psychoanalysis is a mishmash of theories that systems theory can improve, or that systems theory is a better paradigm than the outdated scientific paradigms previously employed in psychoanalysis. Finally, none of the authors believe that their work in any way modifies the basic tenets or practice of psychoanalysis. Plänkers, however, is very critical of these grandiose claims and he argues that the conclusions are incorrect. In particular, he challenges the claim that systems models do not disturb the basic tenets of psychoanalysis. He attempts to show just how disturbing, revisionistic, and unfaithful to psychoanalysis these proposals are. For Plänkers, systems theory and psychoanalysis are incompatible, and attempts to reduce psychoanalysis to the former do not do justice to its insights and theoretical innovations.


WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the PEPWeb subscriber and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form.
- 140 -

Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1992). Psyche. XL, 1986. Psychoanal. Q., 61:139-140

Copyright © 2014, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing. Help | About | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Problem

WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.