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Alexander, F. (1926). Neurosis and the Whole Personality. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 7:340-352.

(1926). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 7:340-352

Neurosis and the Whole Personality

Franz Alexander

In any wider survey of the development of our views on psycho-neurotic disease the line of this development is found to be characterized by the ever-increasing consideration given to the illness as an expression of the whole personality. It is only fair to recognize that our science has aimed at this from the very beginning. But it is in this particular direction that Freud's latest theoretical work denotes an advance; it has contributed pre-eminently towards an understanding of the mental manifestations of disease in their relation to the personality as a whole. Freud's attempted reconstruction of the structure of the mental apparatus is no speculation. It is a necessary consequence of the empirical material obtained from analysis; it is ever being confirmed by the experience gained in individual cases, and it indicates the way for further investigation of the structure of this apparatus in detail.

The path of progress in psycho-analysis might be characterized just as well by stating that, whereas in the first instance our interest was directed principally to the repressed material, to the manifestations of the repressed instinctual impulses, we are gradually occupying ourselves more and more with the nature of the repressing agent itself, with the motivations and the trajectories of repression. Speaking rather crudely, yet expressing all that is essential, we might say: at first we got to know the repressed, nowadays we are getting to know the repressing factor. We first grasped the subject-matter of the language of the unconscious, whilst now we are seeking to understand its grammar, its construction. It is not quite accurate to say that at first we investigated the libido and nowadays we explore the ego, because the repressing agent makes use of the libido itself. To take the example of moral masochism: we are concerned here not with differences of quality but above all with divergent directions. We could say that whilst the manifestations of the repressed are centrifugal, those of the repressing agent are centripetal.

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