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Bornstein, M. Mauman, M. Gonzalez, R. Silver, D. Smith, S. (1982). Epilogue. Psychoanal. Inq., 2(2):321-322.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 2(2):321-322

Epilogue Related Papers

Melvin Bornstein, M.D., Martin Mauman, Ph.D., Raphael Gonzalez, M.D., Donald Silver, M.D. and Sydney Smith, Ph.D.

Viewed as a group, the commentaries on The Development of Aggression in Early Childhood and Parens' response to them contain a number of surprises. First is the general acceptance of the method of direct observation under experimentally structured conditions. In the past, psychoanalysts have been wary of data obtained from outside the consulting room, and those pioneers who conducted research based on experimental observation had an uphill struggle for acceptance. That battle seems to have been won, and the struggle has shifted to the reliability of the sample. One essayist challenges its limited size and its gender tilt (2 boys and 10 girls), and others question its restrictiveness—no fathers and its narrow socioeconomic grouping.

The prncipal tension between the essayists and Parens lies not in the methodology but in the interpretation of the data. Here also there is a historical shift. Sometime back, when ego psychology was the dominant psychoanalytic point of view in the United States, a dual instinct theory was accepted as a basic tenet and doubters were in a small minority. Our essayists display an almost universal support for Parens' emphasis on the reactive nature of much or most aggressive behavior. In fact, with one exception, the essayists are most critical of Parens' adherence to a drive discharge model even in the markedly modified form he suggests. Grotstein alone prefers adherence to the death instinct. Parens in his response to these challenges is respectful but firm—he reaffirms his method and the logic of his categories and the theoretical (Mahlerian) base he employs to give order and coherence to this thinking.

The reader is left to decide.

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