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Shaw, R.R. (1989). Hartmann on Adaptation: An Incomparable or Incomprehensible Legacy?. Psychoanal Q., 58:592-611.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:592-611

Hartmann on Adaptation: An Incomparable or Incomprehensible Legacy?

Ronda R. Shaw, M.D.


Hartmann's essay sets forth ideas of incomparable value as well as incomprehensible density. While he developed many important concepts which have far-ranging clinical utility even today, his attempt to extend psychoanalysis into a general psychology backfired because it separated psychoanalytic concepts from analytic data. Because of his lack of clinical material or anecdotal illustration, Hartmann's theoretical scaffolding has been frequently misunderstood and misapplied. This paper re-examines Hartmann's essay in light of current clinical and metapsychological issues, and illustrates some of his more important ideas.

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