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Rangell, L. (1989). Action Theory Within the Structural View. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 70:189-203.

(1989). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 70:189-203

Action Theory Within the Structural View

Leo Rangell


This paper presents a summary of a cohesive theme coursing through a group of selected papers written by the author over four decades. Purpose, intention, choice and decision are seen as firmly anchored within structural meta-psychological theory. These constitute a cohesive and operative psychoanalytic theory of action, which Hartmann stated did not exist within psychoanalytic theory. The exposure and inclusion of this unconscious series of intrapsychic events obviates the need for many alternative theories which have been erected to give a place to these very functions.

Unconscious decision, ego will and volition, the unconscious initiation and execution of action, operate during waking life, with as complete and complex secondary process mentation as secondary revision organizes the final shape and contents of a dream during sleep. These conceptual changes and advances have important psychosociolegal implications. Man not only does not know why he acts; he also does not always know that he acts. The mainstream itself is not monolithic and has also resisted the development of many of these advances. Factors responsible for this lag or block are adduced, which include anti-scientism or intellectuality, as well as, most importantly, a resistance to an increase of responsibility and accountability.

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