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Robbins, M. (1988). The Adaptive Significance of Destructiveness in Primitive Personalities. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 36:627-652.

(1988). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 36:627-652

The Adaptive Significance of Destructiveness in Primitive Personalities

Michael Robbins, M.D.


Destructiveness in primitive personalities is not restricted to a segment of the person as it is in the case of neurotics, but is global and pervasive. This destructiveness is meaningfully configured in a manner which cannot fully be accounted for by constitutional factors or be comprehended from the individual, intrapsychic, conflictual viewpoint of classical psychoanalysis. It follows an interpersonally meaningful pattern and therefore has adaptive significance in the contemporary life of the individual. The adaptive model I propose does not violate essential canons of psychoanalytic theory, for it can simultaneously be conceptualized in terms of intrapsychic structure and dynamics. This model holds out the possibility for a therapeutic approach to primitive personality organization which differs in some but by no means all respects from classical analysis.

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