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Sullivan, H.S. (1925). The Oral Complex. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(1):30-38.

(1925). Psychoanalytic Review, 12(1):30-38

The Oral Complex

Harry Stack Sullivan

The dynamics of the hormic or libidinal energy which, with archaic organizations including morphology determiners and life experience, makes up the mind structure of the individual, includes certain major foci or centers of concentration and redirection, to which we can appropriately apply the terms preconcept and complex. The former, preconcept, is used to connote an experience structure which is formed prior to birth; the latter, complex, to identify structures which are acquired during the life of the individual as such. In this terminology, a sentiment is accepted as meaning a complex some part of which is accessible to awareness; i.e., can participate in consciousness without marked distortion. The distributions of the hormic or libidinal energy which result from the existence of preconcepts are designated as primary root tendencies, pre-instincts, or (in expository language) primal vectors. Since teleological considerations are deemed to be a necessary implication of this energy concept, the more in that such a teleological notion in now taken up again by biology as a necessary hypothesis for explaining vital facts, one can refer to the goals of these vectors, Such goals are the purposes of behavior, which are determined in an absolute fashion by the dynamic sum of the vectors present and active in response to environmental or other situations. The individual thus seen is an organism including motor and sensory agencies, with extensive neural coördinating, integrating and dissociating apparatus, the activity of which as a whole constitutes purposive effort—behavior. This behavior is then a total reaction, not alone of the hitherto discoverable somatic whole, but of the organism and his total experience, innate and acquired, in turn purposively activated by vital energy; the entirety being the mind expressing itself in behavior and thinking.

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