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Pollock, G.H. (1981). Combinatorial Specificity and the Complemental Series.. Ann. Psychoanal., 9:161-171.

(1981). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 9:161-171

Combinatorial Specificity and the Complemental Series.

George H. Pollock, M.D., Ph.D.


Much has occurred since the forties and fifties, when the psychosomatic movement was approaching its zenith of influence, and I hope some day to write a history of this movement, its various leaders, their ideas, their theories, and what has become of these in the intervening years. “In science,” wrote Einstein (cited by the Addison-Wesley Publishing Company), “the work of the individual is so bound up with that of his scientific predecessors and contemporaries that it appears almost as an impersonal product of his generation.” Yet it is fruitful to try to trace the specific line of progression from one person or one school.

My own research follows the lead of the Chicago school which emphasized conflict specificity. My thinking has evolved in several directions: One of these extends the earlier concepts of specificity to what I now call “combinatorial specificity.” Having defined and delineated some of the qualitative factors, the issue now becomes one of how much, how long, and in what combination do we find the various elements.

An analogy from chemistry may illustrate my idea. Much research went into discovering the various chemical elements. These were identified, classified, and ordered in the periodic table.

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