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Spiro, M.E. (1993). Tropes, Defenses, and Unconscious Mental Representation: Some Critical Reflections on the “Primary Process”. Psychoanal. Contemp. Thought, 16(2):155-196.
  

(1993). Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, 16(2):155-196

Tropes, Defenses, and Unconscious Mental Representation: Some Critical Reflections on the “Primary Process”

Melford E. Spiro, Ph.D.

This paper assesses the putative differences between the primary and secondary processes in respect to their formal (as opposed to their ontological) dimension. It argues that while, on the one hand, Freud was brilliantly correct in his delineation of the differences between the primary and secondary processes as modes of wish fulfillment, on the other hand his delineation of the differences between these processes as modes for the mental representation of thoughts (including wishes) is critically flawed. That is, based on analysis of signs and tropes, the paper attempts to show that the formal characteristics by which Freud distinguished the primary and secondary processes as representational modes are virtually nonexistent.

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