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Alexander, F. (1923). The Castration Complex in the Formation of Character. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 4:11-42.

(1923). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 4:11-42

The Castration Complex in the Formation of Character

F. Alexander

Preliminary Remarks on the Dynamics of Symptom-Formation

A particularly favourable opportunity to gain some comprehension of the dynamics of symptom-formation presents itself in the study of those so-called 'transitory symptoms' which arise under our eyes in the course of analytic work—a sort of product of the laboratory. Ferenczi, who first described these manifestations, pointed out their theoretic importance in that they enable experimental observations to be made of the dynamics of falling ill. Ferenczi explains these symptom-formations arising during analytic work as manifestations of resistance against the process of making conscious certain unconscious tendencies which are displeasing to the ego and which have been brought near to the level of consciousness by analysis. Driven out of their old neurotic 'positions' these tendencies are seeking an outlet in new symptoms and struggling to reach equilibrium afresh by this means. Truly a unique opportunity to study symptom-formation!

These transitory artificial products of the neurosis make their appearance in an unusually pronounced form during the analysis of what are called 'neurotic characters'. These are types well-known to the analyst, people who suffer from no very definite symptoms of illness but whose behaviour in life is in the highest degree impulsive and frequently even compulsive; they are unusually subject to the domination of their unconscious instinctual tendencies.

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