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Rangell, L. (1965). The Scope of Heinz Hartmann—Some Selected Comments on his Essays on Ego Psychology an Appreciative Survey on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:5-30.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:5-30

The Scope of Heinz Hartmann—Some Selected Comments on his Essays on Ego Psychology an Appreciative Survey on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday

Leo Rangell


If one can attempt a summary of the most salient features of what the Hartmann psycho-analytic edifice represents to us, we might say that it contributes the following:

1. Emphasis on the normal, the conflict-free, and the processes of adaptation (these are not the same).

2. The use of autonomous ego apparatuses, independent of conflict and of drive activity.

3. The existence of a hereditary constitutional ego core.

4. The possible availability of separate energy for use by the ego from the beginning, 'primary ego energy'.

5. Elaboration of the structure of the ego, both of its interior and a finer definition of its borders. Appreciation of the whole ensemble of ego functions.

6. Within these functions, evaluation of the central role of the synthetic and organizing functions of the ego.

7. From the economic point of view, the role of neutralized energy in serving the ego throughout life and for a variety of psychic functions. The accumulation of a reservoir of such energy.

8. Emphasis on the significance of the structural point of view in general and its consequences through all of psychic functioning.

9. Separation of function, genesis, structure and contents.

10. Systematic extension of psycho-analysis from psychopathology to a general psychology.

11. Addition of insight into the details of the genetic developmental evolutionary continuum from 'animal instincts' to the differentiation of the id and the ego in humans.

12. Within the id organization, addition of the role of the aggressive instinct on a par with that of the libidinal.

13. Emphasis on the constant relationship and interaction between the inner psychic organization and the 'average expectable environment' or its variations.

14. In terms of the above elaborations, redefinition of some specific psychological phenomena, such as, for example, sublimation, which may well be a model for other mechanisms.

15. Some application of the above also to certain specific clinical situations, such as, for example, to schizophrenia or the infantile neuroses. Also implications of ego psychology for technique.

16. Clarification of problems of scientific methodology and theory formation, and establishment of the role of psychoanalysis as a science. The need is emphasized throughout for both empirical observations and hypothesis formation.

17. Extension of analytic activity itself to extra-analytic methods, such as mainly direct child observation and observations by experimentation. Analysis can both enrich such other methods and have its propositions checked and possibly validated by them.

18. Formation of bridges across to other fields and establishment of the relationships of psycho-analysis to wider contiguous disciplines, such as academic and experimental psychology, the social sciences—sociology, anthropology, history, economics—philosophy, and to physiology, medicine and the biological sciences. Emphasis on the interest of analysis equally in biology and in sociology.

19. Retention of historical perspective at all times and of the total psycho-analytic meta-psychological system.

20. Pointers for the future: to specific needs yet to be fulfilled, such as a psycho-analytic theory of action or of object relations. In all, setting as a goal the establishment of

a complete psycho-analytic theory of human behaviour, to take its place within the family of science.

Hartmann does all this and much more. And he does it in his own distinctive style, characterized by a profundity of concept and a copiousness of content which will for a long time challenge and reward the psycho-analytic scholar.

We salute Heinz Hartmann on this his 70th birthday and extend to him our gratitude for his work and our best wishes for the years ahead.

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