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Kanzer, M. (1954). A Field-Theory Perspective of Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:526-534.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:526-534

A Field-Theory Perspective of Psychoanalysis

Mark Kanzer, M.D.

Two volumes of a projected five volume study on The Integration of Behavior by Dr. Thomas M. French have now appeared. The first, dealing with basic postulates, undertakes to construct a picture of the integrative processes involved in goal-directed behavior. For this purpose, the author utilizes a method that he calls "analysis by comparison, " i.e., comparing and contrasting various patterns of reaction found in dreams and other psychological formations. "Thus we have a strictly empirical method for reconstructing the pattern of a patient's personality. Exploring a patient's dreams thoroughly, we search for a constellation of underlying reaction patterns common to all of them. … We learn how different situations activate different parts of the dreamer's personality. By suitable choice of dreams to be compared, we can also study more circumscribed problems. … We can compare dreams provoked by similar situations in the course of therapy and thus discover how the therapist's efforts and other intervening events have modified the patient's reaction patterns" (Vol. I, p. 5). In forthcoming volumes, problems of therapy and general psychology will be elucidated on this basis.

The usual methods and assumptions of the psychoanalyst are predicated upon a "common-sense psychology, " as French sees it, and he reviews a case report by Helene Deutsch to demonstrate how, without "theoretical preconceptions, " the chief features become apparent simply through the application of common sense. Analysts tend to be "gifted imaginative artists" and need training in critical scientific judgment. French believes that his postulates and methods fulfill the latter requirement and proposes with their aid to "analyze the basic assumptions that common sense takes for granted as its premises" (Vol.

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