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Krystal, H. (1974). The Genetic Development of Affects and Affect Regression. Ann. Psychoanal., 2:98-126.

(1974). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 2:98-126

The Genetic Development of Affects and Affect Regression

Henry Krystal, M.D.

Clinical Aspects of Affect Regression

In this paper I study the nature of affect development and affect regression, and their implications for the theory of psychoanalytic therapy. By way of introduction, it may be valuable to mention briefly some points made previously by Schmale (1964) and Krystal and Raskin (1970):

1.   When affects are subjected to study from the genetic point of view, one discovers that some events previously identified as crucial in the development of the personality, such as the establishment of self- and object representations, also become occasions for the development and modification of affects. The maturation of affects involves their separation and differentiation from a common matrix, as well as their verbalization and desomatization.

2.   At the same time, one acquires facility and comfort in living and experiencing his own affects. A variety of ego functions add up to an ability to tolerate affects of considerable intensity, and to utilize them in the service of the ego.

3.   Affects themselves are subject to regression, a process separate from the regressions in ego functions involved in affect tolerance. This regression may proceed to any point in the development of affects, e.g., to their resomatization and deverbalization, as in psychosomatic diseases.

As Arlow and Brenner (1964) have emphasized, regression does not generally manifest itself clinically as a total and/or unchangeable phenomenon. On the contrary, the type of regression which we are considering, i.e., regression to infantile modes of function are, as a rule, spotty, and ever-changing in their severity and clinical picture.

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