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Zetzel, E.R. (1954). Panel Reports—midwinter Meeting, 1953—I. Defense Mechanisms and Psychoanalytic Technique. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:318-326.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:318-326

Panel Reports—midwinter Meeting, 1953—I. Defense Mechanisms and Psychoanalytic Technique

Elizabeth R. Zetzel, M.D.

This panel was, on the whole, characterized by a striking concentration on its main topic. Not only those contributors—and there were several—who illustrated their points by clinical examples, but also those whose contributions were essentially theoretical attempted as far as possible to confine their contributions to material relevant to the role and significance of mechanisms of defense in the actual clinical practice of psychoanalysis.

Rudolph M. Loewenstein opened the panel with an admirable report of the symposium on this subject held at the London Congress last July. In rereading his remarks at the conclusion of the day's discussion, his contribution might be described as a blue print for the panel. Almost all the important points brought up in the course of the discussion here were forecast in his remarks. In preference, therefore, to abstracting his highly condensed report, we have selected as a preliminary basis for discussion the main points he raised and amplified them by reference to the contributions made here. Like Loewenstein we shall not present this report as a series of individual abstracts, but we will rather attempt to correlate the different contributions in terms of the specific topics raised. The valuable and interesting clinical illustrations will thus be reported in relation to their underlying theoretical orientation.

Inevitably the presentations illustrated once again both the impossibility and the undesirability, in our science, of separating theory and practice. Loewenstein referred here to the difficulty of making a clear distinction between the impact of ego psychology on analytic technique and theoretical deductions concerning ego psychology derived from analytic practice. This problem, as he foresaw, was evident in the course of the discussion during which contributors varied in their avenues of approach. To sum up some of the important points raised: several contributors—in particular Ernst Kris and Robert Waelder —approached our present concept of the role of defenses in analytic practice from a historical point of view. Both of them referred to the decisive points in the development of relevant analytic theory.

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