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Weiss, H. (2015). Three Papers on Splitting: A Brief Introduction. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 96(1):119-122.

(2015). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 96(1):119-122

Education Section

Three Papers on Splitting: A Brief Introduction Language Translation

Heinz Weiss

(Accepted for publication 17 December 2014)

Splitting’ is one of the concepts that accompanied psychoanalysis from its very beginnings. In the course of time it has been further elaborated, extended and differentiated up to the present. Splitting is not only active in intrapsychic (splitting as a defence mechanism, its role in symptom formation) and developmental processes (splitting as a basic process organizing the emotional experience of the infant [Caccia, 2009]); the concept of splitting has also enriched our understanding of group dynamics and socio-historical development. Thus it is a concept ‘in progress’ - a progress, however, that brings with it the danger of confusion and misunderstanding, since the different psychoanalytic traditions have developed varying ways of understanding splitting and use the concept in different ways.

In order to clarify this situation and to offer an historical overview Rachel Blass outlines the development of the concept of splitting. Starting from Freud's early studies on hysteria, she describes how ‘splitting’ originally meant the dissociation of different states of mind (or psychic ‘groupings’) which were kept apart by unknown processes and motives. With the discovery of repression as the main defence mechanism in neurosis the concept of splitting took a back seat for a while, as ‘repression’ seemed to offer a clearer understanding of the motives and forces that kept certain memories and phantasies away from consciousness.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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