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Dorpat, T.L. (1976). Structural Conflict and Object Relations Conflict. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 24:855-874.

(1976). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24:855-874

Structural Conflict and Object Relations Conflict

T. L. Dorpat, M.D.


A hierarchical model of the mind is required for a more integrated understanding of psychic conflict. At a higher developmental level, the hierarchical model includes the tripartite model, and at a lower level it includes an object-relations model. Psychic conflicts may be classified into object relations conflicts and structural conflicts. The object-relations class of psychic conflict covers the phase of psychic development prior to id-ego-superego differentiation. The earlier psychoanalytic writings tended to ascribe all kinds of symptoms, conflicts, and disorders to structural conflicts. Logical and empirical evidence against the universality of structural conflicts in various disorders and symptoms, even psychoneurotic symptoms, has been summarized and discussed.

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