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Basch, M.F. (1976). The Concept of Affect: A Re-Examination. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 24:759-777.

(1976). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24:759-777

The Concept of Affect: A Re-Examination

Michael Franz Basch, M.D.

PSYCHOANALYSIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN AWARE of the focal significance of affect and, at the same time, of its inability to define and describe the nature of that concept satisfactorily. David Rapaport (1953) in his now classic paper on the subject says, "We do not possess a systematic statement of the psychoanalytic theory of affects" (p. 476). In the most recent panel (Panel, 1974) on the topic, the chairman, Rangell, is quoted as saying that twenty years after Rapaport's presentation "… we still do not have a complete psychoanalytic formulation regarding affects and, moreover, … any comprehensive theory of affects needs to include the physiologic segment as well as the psychoanalytic" (p. 612).

In this paper I seek to show that Freud's later metapsychologic formulations in the area of affect gain considerable support from and are enhanced by recent findings in other fields, bringing us closer to the goal of a viable theory of affect. I shall first discuss the findings in question and then return to their significance for psychoanalytic theory.

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