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Shapiro, T. Emde, R.N. (1991). General Introduction. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39S(Supplement):iii-vi.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39S(Supplement):iii-vi

General Introduction

Theodore Shapiro and Robert N. Emde

IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO THINK of a human being without addressing the emotional and affective components of being alive. Vibrant, sentient, sensuous, sensual, are each descriptors of dimensions of existence that encompass affect, feelings, and emotion. Psychoanalysts have long been aware of the centrality of emotion in psychoanalytic theory, but we have never satisfactorily integrated the crucial memorial, cognitive notions we cherish with what has been learned in the past 25 years about affects, and emotions, their social significance, regulatory function, and expression.

Nonetheless, from the beginning, analysts did speak of abreaction, catharsis, impounded affect, affective dissociation, isolation of affect, and cathexis, implying investment of ideas with drive energy experienced as emotional valence. Thus, while acknowledging the centrality of affect, Freud and his followers did not develop a coherent model accounting for affectivity in clinical theory and even less so in metapsychology. Initially, drives became affects, and libidinal drives were converted to affects such as anxiety under conditions that were thought about metaphorically in terms of damming. Later the affect, anxiety, took on a central role in symptom formation as a mediational way station with the introduction of signal anxiety, while manifest anxiety appeared clinically as a pathological breakthrough of the defensive attempts to protect the ego from the onslaught of the drives.

When the structural theory was proffered and the concept of signal anxiety stated in 1926, it took another decade or more for ego psychology and for adaptation to become central themes of psychoanalysis.

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