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Gill, M.M. (1994). Conflict and Deficit—Book Review Essay on Conflict and Compromise: Therapeutic Implications. Psychoanal Q., 63:756-778.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 63:756-778

Conflict and Deficit—Book Review Essay on Conflict and Compromise: Therapeutic Implications

Merton M. Gill, M.D.

Because of its combination of theoretical and clinical material and its detailed and frank confrontation of opposing views, the recent publication of the volume Conflict and Compromise, which I believe would be more correctly entitled Conflict and Deficit, provides an opportunity for a discussion of a major current issue in psychoanalysis. The principal, and indeed, only protagonist of the deficit argument is Pual Ornstein, while all the other participants, nine in all, uphold the conflict position with greater or lesser exclusiveness.

Part I: Theory

One of the leading misunderstandings in the debate is that Ornstein is considered to be rejecting the concept of conflict, when in fact he is not. It would be an error, however, to say simply that he wishes deficit to be accorded equal stature with conflict, for he accords conflict a role secondary to deficit. In so doing, he is in fact following a primary line of Kohutian self psychological thought. Indeed, the conflict between that self psychology and what I will call mainstream analysis, as a neutral term, is clearly a major background to this volume.


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