Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To search only within a publication time period…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Looking for articles in a specific time period? You can refine your search by using the Year feature in the Search Section. This tool could be useful for studying the impact of historical events on psychoanalytic theories.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Gray, P. (1967). Activity-Passivity. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 15:709-728.

(1967). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 15:709-728


Paul Gray, M.D.

Hans W. Loewald made some general comments and then presented a brief consideration of a particular issue relevant to the day's topic. Activity-passivity is a polarity governing psychic life, but it is only one of a number of possible broad perspectives from which psychic life can be viewed. The concepts under discussion touch on psychoanalytic issues ranging from the abstract and theoretical aspects to the clinical and technical ones. The formal presentations of the day would of necessity deal with only small segments of the problem as determined by the research interests of the authors. Loewald felt that the panel would serve its purpose if it succeeded in emphasizing the importance and complexity of looking at psychoanalytic problems from the viewpoint of activity and passivity, if it circumscribed and clarified some of the assets and liabilities of this approach, and if it stimulated psychoanalytic thought, observation, and research. He recalled that the late David Rapaport had been particularly interested in the theme of this panel, and had been the only one to devote to it a systematic study of its theoretical aspects.

Loewald pointed out that the terms active and passive, unless qualified as to their meaning in a particular instance, often tend to be vague, ill defined, and ambiguous. To quote him concerning how relative such terms are: "Usually there is more or less activity or passivity, activity in one respect and passivity in another, passivity on one level of speaking, activity on another.… Both analyst and patient in a given analytic hour, for example, may, in a certain sense, be passive, or both active; both id and ego at a given time may be passive, relatively speaking, or both active, active in one respect and passive in another, and each in its own way of functioning." This polarity often lends itself to a bias: "for instance, to assume that activity, on general principle, is preferable to or more adaptive than passivity or vice versa."


[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.