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Freud, A. (1983). Problems of Pathogenesis—Introduction to the Discussion. Psychoanal. St. Child, 38:383-388.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 38:383-388

Problems of Pathogenesis

Problems of Pathogenesis—Introduction to the Discussion

Anna Freud

WHEN, AT THE END OF LAST YEAR'S SYMPOSIUM ON THE SUperego I suggested "Problems of Pathogenesis" as a further subject for discussion, I did so under the misapprehension that we stood more or less isolated with our distrust of many of the current conceptions in this respect. Since then, however, I had the privilege of reading a paper on the same subject by Arlow (1981), which gave me the feeling that we have a potent ally, and that this should encourage us all the more to bring forward our own data derived from the observations and analyses of children.

What I and many others had been waiting for is the kind of insight and objective appraisal of the many theories which dominate the analytic field at present. What worried us, as evidently it worried Arlow, is the present trend to place single pathogenic determinants at ever earlier phases of life—a quest which invalidates or ignores every element of Freud's original, broad, developmental view. It is the essence of this view that the onset of mental disturbance, and especially of neurotic disorder, is due to conflicting forces within the personality; that it is nonspecific, i.e., that it has multiple causes; and that it can be located in all phases of development. In contrast to this view, many authors today regard the events of the early mother-infant relationship as the main pathogenic agents, thereby either ignoring the role of conflict or assuming its existence at a time of life when the personality, according to our views, still is unstructured.

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