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Ginsburg, S.A. (1991). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, XXVI, 1990. Psychoanal Q., 60:530.

(1991). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 60:530

Contemporary Psychoanalysis, XXVI, 1990

Sybil A.Y. Ginsburg

The Problem of Adaptation to Reality in Psychoanalytic Theory. Harold Sampson. Pp. 677-691.

The study of adaptation to reality is traced from Freud, through Hartmann and White to interpersonal and object relations theorists, and finally to infant development researchers (in particular D. Stern). The contributions and limitations of each model are noted. Freud's early model for explaining adaptation to reality was based on the pleasure principle, i.e., an infant turns to reality after suffering frustration. With the development of ego psychology and the dual instinct theory, Freud modified this concept to include the need for mastery, as well as the importance of parental protection (as opposed solely to the parents' ability to satisfy drives), thus foreshadowing object relation theorists. Hartmann, and later White, further decreased the scope of the pleasure principle, positing an innate interest in reality. The interpersonal and object relations theorists stressed such issues as interpersonal needs, "holding environment," and identifications. D. Stern and others have challenged the dual instinct theory and extended the views of Hartmann and White. Their observations of infant behavior are, for the most part, compatible with object relations theorists; however, they disagree that development toward separation-individuation begins from an undifferentiated matrix. Instead, their infant observations indicate responsiveness to the environment from birth. Sampson concludes his paper by discussing the need for a comprehensive clinical theory to integrate the work that has been done in the study of adaptation to reality and with the intriguing statement that he is working with Joseph Weiss to develop one.

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