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Ledermann, R. (1991). Regression and Stagnation. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(4):483-504.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(4):483-504

Regression and Stagnation

Rushi Ledermann


IN THIS PAPER I shall discuss the phenomena of regression and of stagnation, with emphasis on the latter, and I shall consider the relationship between them.

I shall first define and briefly outline the essence of these two concepts.

Definition of regression

It is well known that regression, as used in analytic parlance, describes the process of going back to earlier phases of development. This, on the whole, is a healthy process, ‘reculer pour mieux sauter’ as Jung called it (Jung 12), but it can also be used defensively or run a malignant course, as Jung also recognised. I shall describe malignant regression later on.

Definition of stagnation

By stagnation I mean a condition in which a patient's development has remained severely arrested for a long time. In my view this damage usually occurs in the first year of life if conditions are unfavourable for the baby's healthy deintegration and reintegration. Stagnated patients are unaware of this serious defect in them.

The concept of stagnation, to the best of my knowledge, does not appear in the psychoanalytic literature in the sense in which I use it. Neither is it mentioned in the Index to Freud's Collected Works. Jung uses it as a synonym for regression and only in the sense of spiritual stagnation (Jung 7).

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