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Brenner, C. (1950). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 19:452-453.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:452-453

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Charles Brenner

December 20, 1949. THE CONCEPT OF DEFENSE. George Gerö, M.D.

Defense is defined as unconscious ego activity directed against the id impulses. Criteria are given for deciding when one instinctual impulse is used as a defense against another. The most general of these is the release of tension and diminution of anxiety or superego pressure. Problems of technique related to defense are discussed. The importance of analyzing the patient's defenses is emphasized, and the complexity of defenses illustrated. A technical rule is given for analyzing defenses: begin by analyzing the aspects of the defense which are near consciousness; thus the analyst can eventually make conscious what had previously been an unconscious ego activity. Another technical rules is proposed: as long as a regressive process causes neurotic suffering, the defensive purpose of the regression should not be analyzed; this should be done only when the regression is the source of satisfaction. Defense is considered synonymous with resistance. Repression is felt to be the basic defense mechanism—the sine qua non of neurotic symptom formation. The importance of analyzing defenses first and of seeking hidden defenses is emphasized. Focusing on the defenses intensifies the transference, which is of the utmost value. An exception would be a patient with a strong tendency to act out. It is pointed out that analysis of defenses represents nothing new in psychoanalysis.

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