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Willard, C. (1935). Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(2):212-221.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse

(1935). Psychoanalytic Review, 22(2):212-221


Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse

Clara WillardAuthor Information

(Vol. XV, No. 4)

1.   Federn, Paul. The Ego as Subject and Object in Narcissism.

2.   Sadger, I. Result and Duration of the Psychoanalytic Treatment of the Neuroses.

3.   Reich, Wilhelm. The Genital and the Neurotic Character.

4.   Sterba, Richard. The Dynamic and Mastery of Resistance to Transference.

5.   Hermann, Imra. Compulsion Neurosis and a Historical Factor in the Super-Ego Formation.

6.   Contributions:

a.   Bonaparte, Marie. A Daughter's Identification with Her Dead Mother.

b.   Mack-Brunswick, Ruth. Comment on an Infantile Theory of Coitus a Tergo.

c.   Fenichel, Otto. A Dream Analysis.

d.   Sachs, Hans. An Act During an Analysis.

1.   The Ego as Subject and Object in Narcissism. -Federn believes that studies of the communications of patients concerning their introspective experiences is of first importance in understanding the fundamental theories of psychoanalysis, not merely detailed inquiries into interesting phenomena. Through them may be obtained proof of Freud's theory of narcissism and Fenichel hopes through the study of depersonalization by this means to conclusively establish the different libido processes inferred from psychoanalysis, assuring their acceptance as realities rather than as concepts of heuristic value. He insists that a difference should be recognized between the ego-libido and the object-libido and also in the use of the word “narcissism “as applied to subject or object, explaining that the feeling of strangeness in the perception of the outside world arises when the boundary of the ego, which is subjectively perceived in the form of ego emotional investment, loses its libidinal energy, even though the presence of the object may continue to be recognized subjectively. He finds this in contradiction to previous theories which regarded the feeling of strangeness and depersonalization as merely heightened narcissism and reduction of emotional investment of the object.

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Many writers have considered feeling of strangeness and loss of the object as signifying the same thing, but Federn regards feeling of strangeness as a distinctly specific experience, the loss of the object, on the other hand, as an expression which may have application to various sorts of experiences. More important still, in his opinion, is it to give precision to the use of the word “narcissism” and to determine whether it is proper to apply this word indiscriminately to every strong affective reaction of the personality. He finds the real state of things to be that, in every affective reaction, we have a strong ego-feeling which is intense at the boundary where any object in question is grasped, and that when the ego-boundary is weakly invested the object is seized with diminished affect.

The boundaries of the ego filled with ego-feeling, i.e., endowed with libido, are not rigid like a surrounding girdle, but are constantly changing in extent and degree of investment. In this connection, the writer notes, the comparison of the changes' in the ego-boundaries with the changes in the ameba which sends pseudopodia is more than a figure of speech. At the beginning of life the living substance reacts as a whole. This unity, in the process of development, disappears both psychically and physically, the various organs taking on separately the offices of self-protection. When Freud ascribes to the ego the function of giving unity to the various parts of the psyche this is to be understood in the sense of a return to a fundamental condition which had existed from the beginning. The libidinal endowments which constitute the ego-feeling must have a central unity, but other ego-boundaries possessing different degrees of libidinal endowment are not in contradiction with such a fundamental unity. We are obliged to assume this condition of things because the feeling of strangeness embraces not only the external world, but also psychic factors: memories, thoughts, conclusions, judgments, emotionally toned phenomena, as hoping, fearing, wishing, mourning, acts affecting the world of thought or the outer world, as decisions, beginning acts, ending them, commanding or obeying. The diverse forms of the feeling of strangeness-naturally only where not complicated by extreme psychotic or neurotic disturbances-prove that these active or passive phenomena, normally endowed with affect, may persist as conscious experience in the individual without making adequate contact with the ego-boundaries. That there is not a real loss of the affect itself is shown by the fact that a patient with these disturbances at times conducts himself as though they had the affect, without, however, really feeling it.

Tracing changes which take place in the development of the ego, Federn notes various changes: the exterior world is first grasped egoisti-cally, objects being regarded as part of the ego; following this phase the outer world is grasped egocentrically, the ideas of the world being nar-cissistically embraced, the first ego-cosmic-ego being repressed, but continuing

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to exist in the unconscious; finally the super-ego and other ego-instances appear.

The primary narcissism is of ego-libidinal nature, the secondary, of object-libidinal. The various ego-boundaries are never definitely fixed but are always maintained in unity by the circumstance that psychic processes keep in contact with the primary narcissism, itself preserved as a unity and endowed with emotional tone.

How does the object acquire secondary narcissism? Federn asks. This takes place when the ego-feeling reaches out to embrace the object, and this happens at least transitorily in every psychic process. The libidinal satisfaction or other outflow having once taken place, it does not follow that the relation of ego and object should persist unchanged; the ego-libido may reach out to various other elements of the objective world, may remain constant for a long time or the contrary, and this repeatedly. The ego-libido may recede from concepts and functions so that these, later in actual experience, are but faintly emotionally invested.

Federn says in conclusion that this description, in so far as the boundaries of the ego and the dynamic of narcissism are concerned, represent the facts. That there is a changing investment at the ego-boundary modifying relations to the object is a hypothesis, but nevertheless a logical continuation of the theory contained in Freud's various writings. Federn believes that more extensive study of this subject will render further speculation necessary, and that he has indicated the direction which investigation should take. Introspection supports the view that for a feeling of satisfaction to result from a psychic act, the emotional investment of the concept of the object must be covered by the narcissistic investment at the ego-boundary. For something never previously experienced, no narcissistic investment as yet exists. While an impressive speaker may convince us instantaneously through identification with someone already known, in the absence of this factor, what is new to us takes a certain time to acquire libido from the ego-feeling and object investment. Only then is the real-ego in a position to decide critically as to the real value of a new presentation. More simply expressed-for what is new there is no understanding without empathy.

3.   The Genital and the Neurotic Character. -From the manner in which the patient reacts to psychoanalysis a formal definition of the character may be inferred, Reich says. For determining the type of character and the special resistances arising from it, the way in which communications are yielded rather than their content should be regarded as significant; the attitude of patients in making reproaches to the analyst, rather than any special reproach in itself.

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Considering the purpose for which a character is developed and its economic function, he says that the character is above all else a mechanism for protecting narcissism. The individual character, if traced back to its beginning, that is to the CEdipus age, reveals the conditions by which its development has been determined, that is under the influence of menaces from the outer world and the instinctual urges of the Es. Reich finds two typical forms of character, the genital and the neurotic, with countless transitional forms. In describing the development of various forms, he refers to Freud's and Ferenczi's application to the psyche of Lamarck's theory of an autoplastic and an alloplastic adaptation. In one the organism alters the environment, in the other it changes itself for the sake of self-preservation. From a biological point of view the formation of the character is an autoplastic function set in action by the disturbing and painful stimuli of the external world. The Ego, turned toward the external world and therefore the exposed part of the psychic apparatus, is the seat of character development. It is a sort of buffer between the Es and the environment. In the warfare between these two elements the ego, attempting a mediation in the interest of self-protection, takes up into itself the prohibiting objects of the outer world in the form of a moral instance, the Super-ego, which always remains a derivative of the outer world, belonging to the menacing environment.

Reich calls attention to an analogy between the Ego and the protective shell formed by certain animals. The movement of these primitive “armored” animals, in contrast to that of simple amebje, is greatly restricted, contact with the environment being limited to the pseudopodia which can be thrust out through small holes in the shell for the purpose of movement or for obtaining food, and then drawn in again. In Freud's sense the Ego also is a structural formation. Under character, in this connection, is to be included the sum of all that is typical in the Ego, that is the specific form of reaction of a given personality, a definitely determined dynamic factor manifesting itself in characteristic forms (walk, mimic, bearing, speech, etc.). This character is constructed from elements of the external world, from prohibitions, restrictions of instincts and identifications of various sorts, and is therefore of sociological derivation.

Aside from the nature of the cement which holds these elements together, and the dynamic process by which the “shell” is constructed, it is necessary to understand that, while protection from the outer world was, in the beginning, the main purpose of the shell, this sort of protection is not at higher sociological levels, its main function. At later stages the characterological protective mechanism is set in typical activity whenever phases of anxiety arise, be they from inner instinctual excitation or from external menacing stimuli.

Of the relation of character to repression, Reich says: character development proceeds under the necessity of repressing instinctual

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demands, but, the character once established, the need for repression is lessened, because the free-floating energies are used up in the building up of the character itself. The development of a character trait, therefore, constitutes the resolution of a repression conflict either by avoiding the process of repression altogether, or by altering a repression which has taken place into a rigid, self-righteous formation. This whole process of character formation, therefore, corresponds with the tendency which the Ego has to unify the psychic organism. It also explains why it is so much more difficult to overcome resistances which have become traits of character than, for instance, those which have given rise to a symptom.

The change of function which the character has assumed from that of a protection against objective danger to that of a protection against inner instinctual drives and choked anxiety is traced historically:

The evolution of society, particularly the progress from primitive conditions to civilization has entailed great restrictions in libidinal satisfaction. As civilization advanced the causes for objective anxiety diminished. In payment for increasing individual security, however, it became necessary for the separate members to curb the appetites and make them conform to social standards, the outcome being choking of the libido and resulting inner anxiety. Animals, because they are without social organization, fall into conditions of objective anxiety, but rarely, except under domestication, into anxiety caused by blocked instinctual drives. Man, on the other hand, who has been able to reduce objective anxiety by means of laws, the police, morality, easily succumbs to neurosis, the specific result of anxiety from the blocking of instinctual cravings.

Taking then as the two fundamental economic principles for character formation, the avoidance of objective anxiety and the binding of anxiety due to the blocking of instinctual drives, Reich notes further that instinctive impulses which escape the destiny of being elaborated into character strive, if they are not repressed, toward direct satisfaction. The sort of satisfaction sought depends on how the character is built up. The final quality of a character-and this is true of the typical character as well as of variations-is determined in two ways: First, qualitatively, by the stages of libido development which, through inner conflict, have most permanently influenced the character formation. In this regard may be distinguished, for instance, depressive (oral), genito-narcissistic (phallic), hysterical (genito-incestuous), and compulsive (sadistic-anal) characters. Second, quantitatively, by the energy of the qualitatively different libido forces. The former may be termed the historical determinants, the latter the actual determinants of the character.

Reich cont asts the economic differences in libido phenomena in two typical character formations, the genital and the neurotic. If the char-acterological “shell” exceeds a certain limit of rigidness this is evidence

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that it has made use of certain instinctual forces, which, in normal conditions, are otherwise adjusted to reality. If, for instance, the capacity for sexual satisfaction is placed under too great restraint, the conditions for the neurotic character are given. Referring to the adequate and inadequate ways of binding the anxiety arising from blocked libido, Reich takes as prototype of the adequate way, the genital-orgastic satisfaction of the libido and sublimation; as prototypes of inadequate ways all sorts of pregenital satisfactions and reaction formations. Concerning the resolution of the demands of the Es, he says that the genital character has fully reached the postambivalent genital stage; the incest wish, the wish to do away with the father (or mother) have been given up, and the genitality is directed to a heterosexual object. The (Edipus complex no longer exists. In contrast the neurotic character is unable to get rid of free, unsublimated libido. It is always relatively orgastically impotent- a condition accounted for by the persistence of earlier forms of instinctual constellations; the incest objects remain libidinously invested or the libido attaching to them appears in the guise of symptom formations.

The Super-ego of the genital character is distinguished above all else by the fact that it contains elements which assent to sexual satisfaction. The Super-ego of the neurotic character, on the contrary, is distinguished by its prohibition of sexuality, whereby automatically arises the well known conflict between the Es and the Super-ego. As the ædipus conflict has never been overcome, the nucleus of the Super-ego, i.e., incest prohibition, continues in force and disturbs every sort of sexual relation.

In the genital character, as there is periodic orgastic release of the libidinous energy of the Es, the tension between the Ego and the Es is considerably diminished; the Es is satisfied to a great extent and the Super-ego, having no cause to be sadistic, exercises no special pressure on the Ego; the Ego accepts the genital libido as well as certain pregenital urges of the Es without any feeling of guilt.

The Ego of the neurotic character is either ascetic or attains sexual satisfaction with a feeling of guilt; on the one hand from the unsatisfied Es with its choked libido; on the other, from the brutal Super-ego. The Ego remains hostile to the Es and friendly to the Super-ego, but the conflict continues, for loving glances are still cast on the Es and supplications directed to the rigid Super-ego. The feeling of impotence drives the Ego to extreme narcissistic compensations, while in the genital character the narcissistic foundation is built solidly. Actuated by irrational motives, the neurotic character is never capable of arriving at unprejudiced decisions; the infantile attitude, the infantile wish is always present as a disturbing element.

Sexually unsatisfied and incapable of satisfaction, the person of neurotic character must either become totally abstinent sexually or live in rigid monogamy, as he believes from a moral sense, or out of consideration

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for the sexual partner. As the sadism is not sublimated, the Super-ego rages, the Es constantly demands satisfaction of its needs, the Ego develops the feeling of guilt, which it calls social conscientiousness, and a need for punishment, leading it to impose on itself that which it really wishes to inflict on others.

In considering the social performances of the genital and of the neurotic character, Reich says that sublimation is a specific performance of the genital character; reaction formation, the method of procedure of the neurotic. Freud having defined sublimation as the result of the diversion of a libidinous striving to a “higher” social aim, the view erroneously gained currency that sublimation and satisfaction of the instincts were incompatible. It is not meant that the libido should not be satisfied at all, but only that some instincts upon which social performances are founded should not be directly satisfied. Daily experience shows that an adequate libido adjustment is indispensable for a successful and permanent sublimation.

The psychoanalysis of cases where there is a disturbance of ability to work shows that sublimation of the pregenital libido is difficult in proportion to the degree of blocking of the total libido. Sexual phantasies intrude and distract attention from work, or the cultural performances are sexualized.

Adequate sublimation flows easily and freely, while sublimation as a reaction takes a spasm-like and compulsive form, as though all performances were dictated by a stern Super-ego. In the process of reaction-formations the most important economic moment is the necessity of anti-cathexis. As the primitive instinctive goal is retained, libido streams to it constantly and just as constantly must the Ego change this into compensatory energy in order to keep the forbidden instinct in check. In the reaction formation, the Ego is constantly occupied with itself. In sublimation, the Ego has energy free for the outer world.

In illustration of the difference between adequate sublimation and reaction-formation, Reich describes a neurotic patient, an official, very conscientious and industrious, who was in the habit of working in his office until midnight, at times until three in the morning. An analysis soon revealed that sexual phantasies disturbed his work, and that he was afraid to allow himself a single moment of idleness, especially in the evening, because phantasies forced themselves upon him with great insistence. In his extra hours of work he used up a part of his libido, but the overflow increased until he could no longer conceal his disturbed capacity.

In such cases, the eager grasping out for work and the reactive compensatory performances keep pace with a constantly increasing accumulation of libido. The reaction formation which takes this trend of insatiable reaching out for activity is one of various neurotic compensatory mechanisms.

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4.   The Dynamic and Mastery of Resistances to Transference. -Sterba describes a case to illustrate, in a concrete manner, how a positive transference developed in such manner as to constitute a resistance which interfered with the discovery of the unconscious material. The analysis revealed that the patient had a deep-seated father hatred, with fear and anxiety which prevented open expression. Thus the apparent positive transference to the analyst and the acquiescence in the procedure, in reality, fortified the repression and resistances. The fear of the father, the feeling of guilt on account of the wish for the father's death together with the compulsion to repetition of earlier situations constituted the nucleus of the neurosis. Sterba, availing himself of hints from dreams and memories, interpreted to the patient the real significance of his anxious cooperation in the analysis: that he was taking the same attitude toward the analyst as formerly he had taken toward the father, repressing all evil thoughts of rebellious conduct with a fear which betrayed the compensatory origin of his friendliness; that, in fact, the analyst, whom the patient identified with the father, was coming to the aid of the repressing Ego menaced by the affective influx from the Es. Sterba endeavored, with the aid of interpretation to separate that part of the Ego which conformed to reality from the part which was either the executor of unconscious wishes or which, serving to repress these wishes, gave rise to reactions of anxiety. In this patient it was clear that the appearance of the anxiety in the transference was, in a last analysis, a mobilization of the castration fear which had developed in childhood as reaction to infantile onanism with incest impulses toward the mother and the castration wish toward the father.

To a certain degree the infantile onanism was, through repetition compulsion, the real determinant of the anxiety in the analysis. This anxious attitude, however, was augmented by other factors so that the genuine infantile experience was no longer a measure of the strength of the final anxiety and resistance. For the demolition of the fortified resistances it was not sufficient to overcome the infantile castration anxiety; it was necessary to attack separately the supporting resistances, in part, by interpreting the significance of the positive transference as a form of resistance.

The impression given by this case was that the supporting resistances do not increase the anxiety, but add to its obstinate persistence and hinder its reduction.

5.   Compulsion Neurosis and a Historical Factor in the Super-Ego Formation. -Experience with various cases of compulsion neurosis in which Freud's “borrowed guilt” was evident caused the writer to direct attention to external factors involved. It became apparent that these external factors exert their influence during the development of the Super-ego.

After describing cases in detail, the writer distinguishes, on the basis

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of external factors involved, two groups of compulsion neuroses. In the first the father, mother, or grandmother fell under the moral condemnation of the patients; in the second, the uncle, a distant relative, or a stranger. Naturally, no exact and definite boundaries exist between the two groups. For instance, in one case, the grandfather lived near the patient; in another, in a distant city. In the first case he could be regarded as representing the parent, in the other, as a stranger. A continuous series of persons from whom the feeling of guilt is borrowed may be assumed, at one termination of which is the father and mother, at the other, persons who are entire strangers.

It would be equally erroneous to assume definite boundaries for a third group of compulsion neuroses with “borrowed feeling of guilt,” here described from theoretical considerations and illustrated by Jones' case where the anxiety was in the form of a feeling of guilt because of the belief that the mother wished to kill the patient's brother. Here the patient, of paranoid trend, projected his own wish to the mother. In the writer's groups no similar case was encountered.

The objection that examples of reprehensible conduct in the environment of persons who never become victims of compulsion neurosis, may be answered by the explanation that the elements to be taken into consideration are not alone those connected with the morally reprehensible person. The entire psychic make-up of the patient and the whole situation, of which the reprehensible type forms but a constituent, are significant.

6.   Contributions:

a.   A Daughter's Identification with Her Dead Mother. -A description of a hallucination occurring in a girl four years old: a beautiful, brilliant bird, glowing with all the colors of the rainbow, and with extraordinarily long and thick beak. In a later analysis the hallucination was interpreted as representing a stork, the phallic bird which brings babies, and the glowing colors of the bird as standing for a large opal, a jewel owned by the mother who had died in giving birth to the girl. The child, greatly loved by the father, had no rival and the hallucination occurred under the dominating wish for identification with the mother.

As the child grew up the attitude toward the father changed and she experienced another vision; a wolf climbed to the window, shaking the whole house as it scrambled up. Later other phantasies arose, variations of the mythological Anubis, the Egyptian collector of the dead. Interpretation again found identification with the mother. At the age of seventeen the girl became convinced that she was suffering from tuberculosis, a disease from which her mother had also suffered. The contribution is given to show how, in one case, the CEdipus situation extended in various forms from infancy to the twenty-third year of life, not only as a psychic complex, but in the form of an imagined physical condition.

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b.   Comment on an Infantile Theory of Coitus a Tergo. -A discussion as to whether or not patients who have witnessed the “original scene” supply the position a tergo from their own phantasy.

c.   A Dream Analysis. -Since cases are rare in which complete analysis of a dream throws light upon the entire constellation as the root of a mental disturbance, Fenichel cites an instance.

The patient was a girl, twenty-nine years of age, who sought treatment because of homosexuality and frigidity. From early childhood the father, a cripple, had made repeated sexual approaches, and she had developed various phobias in regard to giants, dwarfs, deformities, and infections. A dream, analyzed in full, revealed the castration fear of the patient-the fear that she would be injured by the father's member. The reaction formations took the form of a demand that the love-object should be deprived of sexual capacity or that she herself should remain incapable of sexual relations.

d.   An Act During an Analysis. -The case of a woman analyzed for enuresis, in which the disturbance was traced to penis-envy connected with experiences in childhood with a younger brother, who, notwithstanding his possession of the coveted organ, was untidy. During the analysis the patient quarreled violently with her husband, expressing disgust for his unclean manner of eating. Sachs sees here the activation of the attitude toward the younger brother, displaced orally.

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Article Citation

Willard, C. (1935). Internationale Zeitschrift fur Psychoanalyse. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(2):212-221

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