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Slap, J.W. Shelton, L.S. (1994). The Schema Model: A Proposed Replacement Paradigm for Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 81(4):677-693.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Review, 81(4):677-693

The Schema Model: A Proposed Replacement Paradigm for Psychoanalysis

Joseph W. Slap, M.D. and Laura Slap Shelton, Psy.D.

According to this model, the dynamic unconscious is a non-accommodating schema consisting of the unmastered painful residues of childhood and subsequent experience assimilated to it. The assimilation of persons from current life into the roles originally created by important childhood figures accounts for repetition phenomena and transference. Advantages over the structural model include internal consistency, absence of highly abstract concepts, and the clear place given unconscious fantasy. The role of perception, badly handled by the structural model, is made clear. An illustrative case is described and the compatibility of the model wiui neuroscience and psychody-namic research findings is explored.

We had thought that the hegemony of the structural model was significantly challenged when Brenner (1992) acknowledged the possibility that “the time has come to relinquish the idea that the mind is best understood as consisting of the separate structures id, ego, and superego.” Of course, there had been growing discontent; Sandler (1983), for example, had contrasted the structural model to which we paid lip service with the private theories with which we worked. Still, Brenner's shift in his position appears to mark a turning point in the course of psychoanalytic theory. In Kuhn's (1970) terms, the structural model seemed a paradigm in distress and the field ripe for a change.

We shall argue the merits of the schema model as a contender for succession; in our view, this model is eminendy suited to occupy the place formerly held by the structural model by virtue of its clinical relevance, internal consistency, ability to reconcile disparate concepts, and compatibility with cognate fields.

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