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Brenner, C. (1962). Freud's Concept of Repression and Defense, its Theoretical and Observational Language: By Peter Madison. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1961. 205 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 31:562-563.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:562-563

Freud's Concept of Repression and Defense, its Theoretical and Observational Language: By Peter Madison. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1961. 205 pp.

Review by:
Charles Brenner

The author, a professor of psychology at Princeton, has addressed this book to other academic psychologists with two purposes in mind: to furnish them with an accurate and comprehensive statement of Freud's own theories concerning repression and other defenses; and to outline ways in which these theories can be scientifically (i.e., quantitatively) tested. The purpose is praiseworthy, the effort sincere. The result, unfortunately, is of dubious value.

The attempt to outline Freud's theories comprises the first and major section of the book. Despite the author's claims of novelty, his principal conclusions are familiar and easily accessible elsewhere in the psychoanalytic literature. (Incidentally, there are almost no references to psychoanalytic literature except for Freud's works.) One principal conclusion, for example, which the author presumably believes to be new, is that Freud used the term 'repression' to designate many defenses other than unconsciously motivated forgetting. There are also serious errors, some of which are due to the author's misunderstanding of what he read, while others are due to his failure to read more. As examples of the former, it is asserted that Freud explained infantile ('primal') repression by the repetition compulsion, i.e., as an instinctual process; and that he attributed the traumatic states of infancy to nongratification of physical, rather than of instinctual, needs. There is complete lack of appreciation of the importance in Freud's theory of the typical danger situations of early childhood and their sequence: loss of object, loss of love, castration anxiety, and superego anxiety. As an example of the latter (an error due to failure to read more), the author's understanding of transference does not extend beyond Freud's statements of 1912. Thus hostility in the transference is equated with resistance.

However,

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