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Wallerstein, R.S. (1967). A. Development and Metapsychology of the Defense Organization of the Ego. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 15:130-149.

(1967). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 15:130-149

A. Development and Metapsychology of the Defense Organization of the Ego

Robert S. Wallerstein, M.D.

This panel was one of two anniversary panels constituted to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense by Anna Freud. Panel B marked the occasion by concerning itself with the implications of this historic landmark for the continuing development of psychoanalysis as technique and as therapy; this panel devoted itself to a reconsideration of the defense organization of the ego from the metapsychological points of view, in the light of the theoretical developments in psychoanalysis in the intervening thirty years.

Jacob Arlow opened with a brief historical perspective on The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, set in the context of a survey of the concept of defenses and of defense mechanisms in the development of psychoanalytic theory. He stated that Anna Freud's book was the logical culmination of a long process of reorganization of both psychoanalytic theory and practice that took place in the 1920s and the early 1930s in the publications of Sigmund Freud. Some, therefore, saw nothing especially new in it. Others, on the contrary, saw this book as a radical and definitive departure from the unremitting psychology of the psychic depths that psychoanalysis had, earlier, monolithically represented.

Arlow read from some of the reviews of this book which appeared in the psychoanalytic journals at the time. Otto Fenichel emphasized that the major contribution of this new book was in its convincing demonstration that psychoanalytic (ego) psychology, even when it investigates the psychic surface, remains nonetheless a depth psychology.

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