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Chodorow, N.J. (2004). The American Independent Tradition: Loewald, Erikson, and the (Possible) Rise of Intersubjective Ego Psychology. Psychoanal. Dial., 14(2):207-232.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 14(2):207-232

The American Independent Tradition: Loewald, Erikson, and the (Possible) Rise of Intersubjective Ego Psychology Related Papers

Nancy J. Chodorow, Ph.D.

This paper has both theoretical and historico-cultural dimensions. Theoretically, it describes the origins of an “American Independent Tradition,” intersubjective ego psychology, in the work of Loewald and Erikson. Just as the British Independent or Middle Group thinkers incorporated elements of both the Anna Freudian and Kleinian approaches, so the work of Loewald and Erikson incorporated and synthesized elements from the two dominant and antagonistic schools—Hartmannian ego psychology and Sullivanian interpersonal psychoanalysis—that constituted classical American psychoanalysis. Intersubjective ego psychology, exemplified in the work of these two founding thinkers and others who follow them, remains firmly committed to ego psychological understandings and technique while also theorizing, without thereby coming to identify as either interpersonal or relational, the centrality and pervasive impact of the object-relational, developmental, and analytic transference-countertransference fields. As a historicocultural study, the paper explores what makes American psychoanalysis American, though it also suggests that defining, other than descriptively, what is characteristically American is itself problematic and can be done only with self-conscious irony. It also provides a historical overview of psychoanalytic controversies in the United States, and it considers schematically the relations between “American” and “European” psychoanalysis.

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