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Compton, A. (2000). Current Views on Psychoanalytic Practice. Changing Ideas In A Changing World: The Revolution in Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honour of Arnold Cooper, 25-31.

Compton, A. (2000). Current Views on Psychoanalytic Practice. Changing Ideas In A Changing World: The Revolution in Psychoanalysis. Essays in Honour of Arnold Cooper, 25-31

Current Views on Psychoanalytic Practice Book Information Previous Up Next

Allan Compton, M.D.

I am a classical psychoanalyst. To me, the statement means that Freud's fundamental hypotheses - a lawful mind in significant degree outside of conscious awareness, mental conflict and clinical phenomena as compromise formations - remain, in my view, the best available set of hypotheses for understanding human mentation and other behaviour. Further, I mean that set of hypotheses continues to guide my clinical work, which consists of understanding and conveying to my patients the roles of wishes (urges, impulses, drive derivatives), unpleasure affects (anxiety and depression), and defensive operations. In my view, the structure of theory and practice provided by so-called classical analysis, as I have just characterized its scientific basis, remains the substructure, at least, of most of the psychoanalysis practised and taught in the world today: it is still the mainstream, even if in some degree subterranean at this point.

The submerging of adherence to Freudian theory seems to me to be primarily a matter of style at this point. It is common in our field that someone with a new idea believes that dissemination of the idea can be achieved only by insisting that Freudian analysis is wrong, not just a part thereof, but ostensibly all of it. Leo Rangell's (1997) argument concerning pars pro toto replacement is cogent here: a new and essentially untested theory is offered as a replacement for “classical analysis,” while “classical psychoanalysis” is awarded everything the innovator does not like about psychoanalysis. Much of what is apparently repudiated, however, is kept, while the new theoretical approach, which might well fit in with Freudian theory, is held to replace Freudian theory altogether.

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