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Michell, M. (1992). Meeting of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York. Psychoanal Q., 61:154-157.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:154-157

Meeting of the Psychoanalytic Association of New York

Monica Michell

May 21, 1990. THE PSYCHOANALYTIC SITUATION: SHELTERED FREEDOM. (25th Freud Anniversary Lecture.) Vann Spruiell, M.D.

Dr. Spruiell presented his reflections on the usefulness of considering Freud's last structural theory as an organismic model both of the mind itself and of the analytic situation. One of Dr. Spruiell's central theses was that Freud, in his theory-making and in his self-analysis, was guided by unconscious fantasies which resulted in a vision of the structure of the mind in organismic terms. Dr. Spruiell repeatedly underscored the fact that psychoanalytic theory and technique are indivisible and that the organismic perspective provides a unique, evocative understanding of both. Theory and practice feed on and derive from each other, forming continuous loops in which practice derives from theory, is molded by pragmatic experiences, and in turn influences theory. Both may be influenced by external factors, such as knowledge of cognitive development, or by internal factors, such as inconsistencies within the theory. Dr. Spruiell emphasized that although some of these thoughts may be truisms, it is important to reiterate them because their significance is often ignored for unconscious reasons. In conceptualizing the human mind, one is faced with a tremendous number of variables, ambiguities, and uncertainties. Therefore, the temptation to oversimplify and overlook is ever present. The organismic perspective implies nonlinear and linear modes of thought, a combination of fantasy scrutinized by rational deductions. The organismic vision resembles process theory and is characterized by hierarchical and parallel systems that communicate, influence, and control each other by mechanisms which Dr. Spruiell likened to biological mechanisms that maintain homeostasis.

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