Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To save a shortcut to an article to your desktop…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

The way you save a shortcut to an article on your desktop depends on what internet browser (and device) you are using.

  • Safari
  • Chrome
  • Internet Explorer
  • Opera


For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Jelliffe, S.E. (1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(3):334-347.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

(1935). Psychoanalytic Review, 22(3):334-347

International Journal of Psycho-Analysis

Smith Ely Jelliffe, M.D.

(Vol. XI, Part 4)

1.   Sharpe, Ella Freeman. The Technique of Psycho-Analysis. Pp. 361-386.

2.   Schmideberg, Melitta. The rôle of Psychotic Mechanisms in Cultural Development. Pp. 387-418.

3.   Lorand, Alexander S. Fetishism in Statu Nascendi. Pp. 419-427.

4.   Ferenczi, S. The Principle of Relaxation and Neocatharsis. Pp. 428-443.

5.   Boehm, Felix. The Femininity-Complex in Men. Pp. 444-469.

6.   Glover, Edward. Introduction to the Study of Psycho-Analytical Theory. Pp. 470-484.

7.   Harnik, J. One Component of the Fear of Death in Early Infancy. Pp. 485-491.

8.   Pfeifer, Sigmund. A Form of Defence. Pp. 492-496.

9.   Shorter Communications, Book Reviews, Bulletin.

1.   Sharpe, E. F. Technique of Psycho-Analysis. —In this second section on technique for analytic students the lectures deal with a survey of defense-mechanisms in general character traits and in conduct: Evaluation of Preconscious Material in Lecture III, and on the Dynamics of the Method—the Transference in Lecture IV which terminates the papers.

As already noted these lectures are too valuable to be disposed of by an abstract or abstracts. They should be read in their entirety. In the material here set forth in lecture III special attention is directed to the analysis of resistances and the defense mechanisms set up by the individual to protect the Ego. The chief dangers arise from the mandates of the Super-ego issued against the wishes of the Id. These are the resistances, often thought of by the uninformed as specific resistances against “analysis.” They are more general and are universal processes with everybody and devised to protect the Ego from pain. Naturally when an analytic process is going on these universal resistances are tightened up a bit, just as in situations of real danger an individual would increase the defenses in proportion to his helplessness. The reality of the dangers are of secondary significance. The patient feels them as real. Naturally also these defense mechanisms have been in the patient's character long before analysis has begun. In analysis two factors begin to appear—the unconsciousness of the wishes and the nature of the Super-ego threats. Infantile wishes have an indestructible quality. One does not get rid of them in analysis. They are simply brought to recognition with their load of anxiety affects. One gets acquainted with the magical systems of the defenses. Thus the Super-ego becomes modified—

- 334 -

not abrogated. An adequate analysis has the following result: The indestructible infantile wishes of the unconscious are canalized in sublimations which are symbolical of those wishes. Sublimation is not a substitute for actual living; it is not living by proxy. It is a re-presentation in some form of cultural value of those infantile wishes that never can become realities. It is when sublimation is inhibited or impossible that adult living does not touch reality. It is when sublimation is laden with anxiety that it brings no satisfaction: that is, when it is not complete sublimation but still an unconscious attempt to make real the infantile unconscious wishes. Analysis frees the sublimation from anxiety. This feeling liberates libido and genital development can then be completed. Reality-sense goes alongside this full genital development. Sublimation proceeds from the pre-genital levels. These levels are the omnipotent realms. We do not rid ourselves of omnipotent phantasy. In analysis we bring the infantile omnipotence to consciousness, which means an adaptation of omnipotent phantasy to the possibilities of reality. Accomplishment in reality is one of the defenses of the Ego in a well-analyzed or well-adapted personality. The omnipotence is still there but it has become an Ego-adjunct in sublimation; it now supports the Ego, and with that unconscious drive the Ego finds power and accomplishment in reality, which gives it security. This accomplishment in reality wins the approval of the modified Super-ego.

The writer then details some of these defense mechanisms—when a reality situation such as death of loved one, or loss of some material kind. This has its special need for analytic approach. Then there is the patient who is “going to make good.“By constant deeds of kindness they seek to nullify anxiety. Others will begin to “reform their characters”— others will fall into the rôle of small children, again others will forestall criticism. [In Wall Street they call it anticipating the market.—Ed.] They relate a phantasy, say “there is my anal erotism,”etc. Once again the patients will wonder if the analyst “knows” this or that: a book, an event, a person, a situation, etc. A very interesting type and difficult to get hold of is to be found in those who would “radiate charm” Their humor and thoughtfulness makes them much appreciated. Yet this ‘charm’ flowers out of anxiety. Another defense is seen in the patient who feels himself a fool. He is often an able person but is inhibited from using his gifts. All these defense-mechanisms against anxiety, she writes, have a magical basis. Some work out as adaptations in reality, have reality values, such as the ability to maintain pleasurable relationships with people and doing services for them. But in this last one the magical omnipotence is seen more clearly. Magic can be found at work under seemingly ordinary behavior as well as extraordinary. To find this is always to have opened a way of analyzing anxiety; to fail to find omnipotent gestures is to lose a way of analyzing it. For instance, an acquaintance had quite a magical way of restoring a sense of well-being. She

- 335 -

would take a bath during the afternoon. Analysis revealed an incident in childhood when she covered herself and the furniture with stickphast paste and so provoked her father's anger. Then she was bathed and cleanly dressed and her father kissed her. In middle age an afternoon bath still resolved anxiety and life became cheerful again.

The fear and anxiety concerning unconscious sadistic phantasies produce some characteristic methods of behavior in some patients. In paranoia one deals with a definite pathological form of defense. But some patients referred to here find a channel of reality instead of delusion. They do their utmost, deftly as a rule, to get the analyst to talk in order to provoke an argument. Then they become fighters and defend another point of view. The analyst is proved to be wrong. In this situation the patients defend themselves against the anxiety of their own unconscious aggressiveness. They feel safe only when they are fighting and when they can lay the blame on a person in the external world for provoking the quarrel. What they must defend themselves from is the knowledge that they are the aggressors. Hence the constant attempt to make the analyst the provocateur. Some patients of this type will very subtly fasten upon any trifling cause of grievance such as an occasional being kept waiting, a change of hour, any slip of the tongue the analyst may make. These things are exploited to the uttermost. The cry is “These things are real; they are your real errors” It may be said without exception that patients like these are clinging to reality causes of their opposition and criticism, because they have yet to face their own unconscious phantasies of aggression which had no provocation in reality.

A brief summary of the defenses detailed are: (a) Nullification of anxiety in reality; reparation systems. Cancelling out instead of remembrance of the past; (b) Cancelling out by magical gestures that yet have reality value; (c) Reformation of character instead of remembrance of the past; (d) Forestalling criticism by self-criticism; (e) Controlling the analysis; (f) By presenting the self as little, powerless, inferior, as a defense against the unconscious omnipotent phantasies which cause anxiety; (g) By projection of hostility on to the analyst, via provoking argument, or by exploiting any error made by the analyst; (h) By intel-lectualization. The clue here is to search for the concrete represented by the abstract.

In attempts to understand and resolve resistances sexual potency cannot be accepted as proof of psychical genital development. A close clinging to reality may be equated with dread of phantasy and an avoidance of reality with prolific phantasy. A clinging to childhood memories is to be equated with avoidance of the present time, and absorption in the present with avoidance of the past. The analyst seeks for visual imagery and the concrete things when a patient talks abstractions. Resistances should be handled, not as specifically against analysis but, as they truly are, defenses that the psyche has evolved in its attempt to reconcile the

- 336 -

claims of the Id and the Super-ego in a world of reality.” In the fourth lecture the subject of transference is well handled—one can best copy phrases here and there. “The first thing that is necessary in this task is to have a wide and deep enough conception of what transference means. That we need to have a wide and deep conception is at once seen by the fact that the word ‘transference’ carries with it a narrow positive import. It has become the stock-in-trade of a popular psychological phraseology. A person is said ‘to have a transference,’ meaning thereby that the person is in love. It is the popular idea of the psychoanalytical method. One has heard it expressed as ‘one has got to fall in love with the analyst.’ The popular idea does not yet go as far as ‘one has got to hate the analyst.’ For psychoanalysts the terms negative and positive transference are rough and ready phrases that may describe the affects felt by a patient at given times. But if transference is going to be the leverage by which we work through defenses to the repressed unconscious our conception must go beyond the ideas of negative and positive transference. ‘Transference’ begins with the first analytical session, whether the patient be neurotic or so-called normal, just because every one has thoughts about another human being when brought into close contact. Outside the analytical room our thoughts about other people are never, even to the most intimate, fully expressed. We base our liking and disliking upon a private code of our own, and one individual known, even very intimately, to a number of people will produce a different conception to each one. The analysis of transference means these three things; (1) Finding the rôle the analyst is playing; (2) Illuminating the past, both real and phantastic, in terms of the re-living in the analysis and in the present-day conflicts; (3) Bringing to light, via the projections on the analyst, the three forces: Id, Ego, Super-ego.”

These are well illustrated by a series of types of transference situations.

2.   Schmideberg, Melitta. Psychotic Mechanisms in Cultural Development. —“Insanity in individuals is something rare; in nations, groups, parties and epochs it is the rule” This quotation from Nietzsche opens this thought stimulating paper. It deals chiefly with ethnological material and would show how widespread customs among primitives are, when seen in individuals of the present day, interpreted as psychotic. The primitives are surrounded by demons. Psychoanalysis shows that for present day man the demons are represented in the Super-ego. In primitives they are displaced into the outside world. The Erinnys in Greek mythology are the personification of remorse. The displacement of the ambivalence into the outside world makes it possible to invoke the aid of a good object in the fight against the bad, and so to allay anxiety. Hate and anxiety are transferred against people of other races and other religions; love and subjection towards the companions and the leader. By projecting submission and giving up aggression, the subject learns to

- 337 -

expect love and help, and thus arises the ‘illusion of the benevolent father’ The help given by the herd in allaying anxiety consists mainly in the fact that the companions really help and that the phantastic persecutors are replaced by real enemies who can be fought and overcome.

If this mechanism breaks down the original anxiety reappears, in the form of panic. Taine describes how, at the beginning of the French Revolution, when faith had disappeared, the populace was carried away with delusional accusations and fears against the landowners and the King, to such a degree that he compares the French nation at that period to an alcoholic paranoiac. With the loss of the illusion that the father is benevolent the original dread of him reawakens. Possibly panic is only a form of this dread at its most acute and violent.

Among civilized races, physicians are in general esteemed as helpers and there is overcompensation for the ambivalent tendencies. The aggressive impulse manifests itself only in jokes, when they may be called poisoners, murderers, and so forth. But when an epidemic takes place against which the physicians are powerless, they are in all earnest accused of poisoning. ‘In every fatal pestilence the people's first thought is poison.’ The plague of the Middle Ages was ascribed to poisoning of the wells by Jews; in German towns where there were no Jews the grave-diggers were accused of this crime, and in Russia the Tartars. During the cholera epidemic of 1837 there was a popular belief in Italy that the people were dying because the water was being poisoned by physicians and officials who received the poison from the detested Bourbon Government. In 1884, when a cholera epidemic broke out in Italy the people believed that the physicians were killing the working-men for the benefit of the well-to-do. It was only when the King visited them himself that they became sufficiently calm to admit medical help.

When medicine fails, the original paranoid anxiety rises in full force. Primarily, there is a dread of the evil father the demon and the sorcerer; religion and medicine succeed in soothing this dread. They demand submission to the father and, by projection of this attitude, the belief in a good father, i.e., a benevolent God, and in helpful physicians arises. If, however, physicians fail to calm this anxiety, they once more become poisoners and God becomes a devil. Thus it seems, as Roheim and (in greater detail) Melanie Klein have shown, that the paranoid mechanism consists in a projection of the original hate derived from the CEdipus complex. When the overcompensation by adoption of the homosexual attitude fails, the primeval anxiety breaks out.

The psychical effect of medicine may consist in the fact that it makes up for the original aggression by subsequent submission. The object (introjected in the oral-sadistic position, and therefore regarded as dangerous) is got rid of and the subject passively incorporates in himself the drug, which represents the good father. Religion provides an analogy in confession, followed by the receiving of the Holy Communion—the

- 338 -

Body and Blood of Christ. Similarly, there is a superstitious belief that a murderer who tastes the flesh of his victim will not be pursued by vengeance or suffer from remorse. A fragment of the corpse, introjected with the intention of restitution, will protect him from the dead man's avenging spirit. Probably this mechanism is at work in morbid cravings: the drug would signify the good father, who is to fight against the bad, introjected father. Soon, however, it comes to signify the bad father, against whom nothing avails but the taking of more drugs. The psychical mechanism has a dangerous reinforcement in the pharmacological effect of the drugs craved for, whereas medicaments given assuage anxiety through their healing effect.

In medicine, magical remedies consisting of the organs of men and beasts have given place to those derived from plants, which are called by the names of divine and human bodily members. It may be supposed that gradually, out of a considerable number of medicaments, preference came to be given to those of whose efficacy men had empirical proof. A remedy which alleviates pain will allay anxiety through its actual operation, just as a magical remedy acts through its psychical effect. Thus empirical medicine gradually renders magic superfluous. But although in medicine magical remedies have given place to empirical ones, the former have retained their original unconscious significance, while in religion the magical means are only slightly modified. From the smearing with fat and blood practised by primitive man the method of rubbing with healing ointments has developed; in religion traces of this are found in the anointing of kings and Extreme Unction, just as tattooing is a religious ceremony among uncivilized peoples. The expulsion of demons by the use of the hands has developed into massage, and into the gesture of blessing by priests. From the practice of expulsion by incantation psychotherapy is derived. Sweating, purging, bleeding, vomiting and fasting originally had the significance of an atonement: today they have their place in medical regimes. It is probable that surgery had its origin in the mutilations accompanying an act of atonement. From theophagy is derived the pharmacopoeia and the Holy Communion.

In this paper the author has tried to prove that there is a tzvofold reaction to the introjcction of the father: (a) a hypochondriacal and paranoid anxiety resulting from the projection of the subject's own aggressive tendencies and (b) a narcissistic love for the introjected object and magical identification with its omnipotence. These mechanisms have originally—in so far as they are exclusive and falsify reality—a psychotic character. The hypochondriacal fear of the introjected object and the projection of the dreaded object are of a paranoid nature. The flight to the internal object—the basis of the magical attitude and of the delusion of grandeur—together with renunciation of the relation to reality and activity in it and of the normal boundaries of the Ego, mav plav an important rôle in schizophrenia. The chief process in the mechanism of

- 339 -

projection appears to be an obsessional attempt to expel the introjected object. The strength of the projection is in proportion to the dread felt. Non-recognition of reality is conditioned primarily by exaggerated anxiety. Painful reality evokes aggression and this, in its turn, anxiety. If the anxiety is excessive, the mental economy must have recourse to non-recognition of perceptions which cause pain or stimulate anxiety. If magical activities assuage anxiety, its excess must prevent insight into their uselessness. But even in paranoia, when the world is peopled with pursuing demons, the economic principle asserts itself, for the patient's dread of them is less than that of the internal object and can be more successfully combated. Anxiety may lead to the abandonment of real activity and of the normal boundaries of the Ego. Thus arrest on an early level of Ego-development—non-recognition of the reality-principle— and the predominance of these psychotic mechanisms are probably conditioned by excessive anxiety and are the result of dynamic processes. The flight to the internal object may take place if the flight to the external object causes too much anxiety. It would be interesting to ascertain how far the flight to the internal object is caused or reinforced by an unfavorable reality.

Magic, by means of which anxiety is overcome and the battle with the outside world is waged, has for its basis the flight to the internal object. Excessive anxiety leads to non-recognition of reality; hence, in the development of human civilization one important function of magic is so far to assuage anxiety that a firmer relation to reality is possible. In the evolution of medicine empirical means gradually took the place of magical ones. Magic having appeased anxiety, it became possible to observe nature empirically and remedies which proved themselves successful in practice rendered magic superfluous. Magic, based on flight to the internal object, is a method of combating the external one. A reduction of the dread felt for the latter facilitates the flight to reality, and thus in its turn assists in bringing about an improvement of the real situation. These two processes, the flight to the internal or external object, may in favorable cases work together, strengthen each other and achieve a betterment of reality. These mechanisms may help gradually to overcome the psychotic traits; this is why, in civilized nations, where these mechanisms are at work in a favorable way, the psychotic characteristics fall into the background.

As civilization developed, the gradual modifications of psychotic to neurotic and magical mechanisms overcame the original psychotic condition of the horde on the death of the primal father.

If neurotic traits and sublimations do in fact succeed psychotic mechanisms in mankind, we are justified in assuming that in the course of time anxiety and ambivalence have diminished, partly through various modes of elaboration and partly because these latter have led to an improvement

- 340 -

in man's real situation. We must bear in mind that anxiety does not simply cease, but assumes other forms better adapted to reality, and that, when the methods of ‘working over’ break down, very strong psychotic anxiety may emerge. Nevertheless, that this is comparatively rarely the case, and that mankind tends to substitute real means for magical to allay anxiety, goes to prove that anxiety actually diminishes as civilization proceeds. In times of cultural development a flight to reality takes place; by this means the external world is gradually mastered and simultaneously a defense against the introjected object is provided.

3.   Lorand, A. S. Fetishi:m. —Abstracted in Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. 17, p. 490.

4.   Ferenczi, S. Relaxation and Neocatharsis. —The author here reviews some of the earlier stages in the psychoanalytic formulations and his own part in their growth. Breuer's real contribution was his ‘belief’ in the reality of his patient's statements—so long as they remained in their conventional settings. His capacity, however, was limited and he became afraid. Psychotherapy had to wait for a man of stronger caliber. Freud was able to handle the unconscious with its highly colored emotional content. Catharsis was the earlier goal and hypnosis and hypnotic suggestions among the technical methods. These went by the board as a scientific demand for understanding became more and more insistent. For Ferenczi, Jung's association experiments were the stimulus to his interest in the new developments. He recites his experiences with his first case of ‘nervous asthma’ and of its ‘cathartic’ relief by the association experiment method. Others followed, but for many the ‘cure’ was only transitory. Then came deeper study of Freud's work and less and less unhealthy optimism about rapid results. Then came his ‘active therapy’ hopes and especially the “termin setzung” by Rank himself. This had its day and the analysis of the Ego came to claim attention and pedantry began to intrude itself in the analytic practice. Hence the movement towards greater plasticity in technique and greater humility in the face of the difficulties.

Then the writer begins to deal with certain ways in which he ‘broke the rules’ The recumbent posture, analyzing for no remuneration, permitting patients to stay in bed for some days or weeks, not holding strictly to the ‘hour,’ etc. Sometimes he found ‘indulgence’ on the part of the analyst defeated the obsessive's weapon of ‘frustration’ This indulgence principle was experimented with extensively—and at times to great advantage. Then he began to ask the patients to ‘relax’—something old, very, very old—and directly in contrast to his ‘frustration’ principle in active therapy. Ferenczi admits the contradiction—and yet both principles, “hardness and softness” may be of service. Increasing experience seemed to show that the ‘cold and aloof’ methods, so useful for the

- 341 -

beginning and beginners, was often too much for certain patients since it was but a repetition of the parental attitudes. Hence the slogan “economy of suffering” for the patient comes into his method.

Was it really worth while, he asks, to make that enormous detour of analysis of associations and resistances, to thread the maze of the elements of Ego-psychology and even to traverse the whole metapsychology in order finally to arrive at the good old ‘friendly attitude’ to the patient and the method of catharsis, long believed to have been discarded? But a little reflection soon set his mind completely at rest. There is all the difference in the world between this cathartic termination to a laborious psychoanalysis and the fragmentary eruptions of emotion and recollection which the primitive catharsis could provoke and which had only a temporary effect. The catharsis of which he speaks is, like many dreams, only a confirmation from the unconscious, a sign that a toilsome analytical construction, a technique of dealing with resistance and transference, have finally succeeded in drawing near to the etiological reality. There is little that the paleocatharsis has in common with this neocatharsis. Nevertheless it must be admitted that here, once more, a circle has been completed. Psychoanalysis began as a cathartic measure against traumatic shocks, the effects of which had never spent themselves, and against pent-up affects; it then devoted itself to a deeper study of neurotic phantasies and their various defense-mechanisms. Next, it concentrated rather on the personal affective relation between analyst and patient, being in the first twenty years mainly occupied with the manifestations of instinctual tendencies and, later, with the reactions of the Ego. The sudden emergence in modern psychoanalysis of portions of an earlier technique and theory should not dismay one; it merely reminds one that, so far, no single advance has been made in analysis which has had to be entiiely discarded as useless and that we must constantly be prepared to find new veins of gold in temporarily abandoned workings.

Accordingly, no analysis can be regarded (at any rate in theory) as complete unless one has succeeded in penetrating to the traumatic material produced in recollection. This statement is based on experience acquired in relaxation-therapy; if it be true, it adds considerably (from the theoretical as well as the practical standpoint) to the heuristic value of this modified technique. Having given due consideration to phantasy as a pathogenic factor Ferenczi states he has been forced more and more to deal with the pathogenic trauma itself. It became evident that this is far more rarely the result of a constitutional hypersensibility in children (causing them to react neurotically even to a commonplace and unavoidable painful experience) than of really improper, unintelligent, capricious, tactless or actually cruel treatment. Hysterical phantasies do not lie when they tell us that parents and other adults do indeed go monstrous lengths in the passionate eroticism of their relations with children, while, on the other hand, when a quite innocent child responds to this halfconscious

- 342 -

play on the part of its elders the latter are inclined to think out severe punishments and threats which are altogether incomprehensible to him and have the shattering effects of a shock. Ferenczi states that today he is returning to the view that, beside the great importance of the œdipus complex in children, a great significance must also be attached to the repressed incestuous affection of adults, which masquerades as tenderness. On the other hand it must be admitted that children themselves manifest a readiness to engage in genital eroticism more vehemently and far earlier than we used to suppose. Many of the perversions children practice probably indicate not simply fixation to a pregenital level but regression from an early genital level. In many cases the trauma of punishment falls upon children in the midst of some erotic activity, and the result may be a permanent disturbance of what Reich calls ‘orgastic potency’ But the premature forcing of genital sensations has a no less terrifying effect on children; what they really want, even in their sexual life, is simply play and tenderness, not the violent ebullition of passion.

The relaxation-technique which he suggests assuredly obliterates even more completely the distinction between the analysis of children and that of adults—a distinction hitherto too sharply drawn. In making the two types of treatment more like one another Ferenczi states he was influenced by what he saw of the work of Georg Groddeck, the courageous champion of the psychoanalysis of organic diseases. Groddeck was right in trying to encourage his patients to a childlike naivete. For himself he has remained faithful to the well-tried analytical method of frustration as well, and he tries to attain his aim by the tactful and understanding application of both forms of technique.

5.   Boehm, F. Femininity Complex in Men. —Abstracted. See PSYCHOANALYTIC REVIEW (not yet published).

6.   Glover, E. Psychoanalytic Theory. —The first of a series of lectures on psychoanalytic theory given at the Institute of Psycho-Analysis in London. The aim of teaching psychoanalytic theory, he states in opening, is not simply the time saving one of imparting systematized information. It is a question of finding a common factor of mental plasticity in deeding with psychoanalytic concepts. Absence of systematized knowledge of theory to begin with is of less importance than personal difficulties. It is also expedient in that one soon finds that psychoanalytic theory arouses peculiar and inveterate resistances in the minds of the medical and of the lay public. This will not be so surprising when “you as beginning analysts will find the same resistances in yourselves” “You must be prepared to find to the end of your professional career that otherwise level-headed acquaintances are inclined to purse the lower lip when they reflect on your fall from the grace of conventional science.” When semi-indulgence turns to attack, however—what then? In the past analysts have often been hampered by the fact that the most suitable

- 343 -

clinical material has either been ambushed by neurologists or handled by non-psychoanalytic psychologists (or theologians). If attacks threaten to hamper or encroach on psychoanalytic activities one is entitled to make sallies both for ensuring supplies and also to allow breathing space for the development of scientific organization; and also that an accurate version of psychoanalysis be spread abroad.

There are, however, more important subjective difficulties to theory. These may be roughly grouped into (a) The Anxiety Group —The main features are that analytical theory functions as a substitutive anxiety idea, and a degree of fear of theory is exhibited together with over-estimation of it. The individual approaches theory with the conviction that it is extremely difficult and complicated; he believes that he will never understand it; that he hasn't a fair chance; theory has gone too far ahead. As a corollary, he imagines that others do understand it or will understand it more thoroughly than he ever will. From this he develops the idea of hierarchies within the science and may in time experience jealousies over the publications of contemporaries.

(b) The Obsessional Group —Here again displacement and over-estimation are met with but in place of anxiety reactions there is much preoccupation with theoretical questions. The preoccupation may be of the philosophic type or of the sort which is best expressed in the German word grubeln. Persons in this group are prone to regard theory as excessively important; it is, in their view, essential for practical reasons to be closely conversant with it; as a rule they feel that they have themselves a flair for theory and tend to believe that others, more obtuse or more unregenerate, cannot or will not understand it.

In both groups the mechanism involved is one of displacement, and in both groups the source of the trouble is that some more archaic personal hostility is screened by hostility to an abstract system. It is characteristic of the anxiety group that those concerned have some difficulty in remembering theory; in the obsessional group a tendency exists to doubt theory and to meet it with destructive criticism.

Glover then details some examples thus—“Some time ago I reported the case of a medical practitioner who was greatly exercised on reading in a current Journal of the possibility of extirpating a particular Ego system which we call the Super-ego. His criticism was doubtless sound, but the animus exhibited, together with other associative material, clearly indicated that this theoretical possibility had stimulated his castration anxiety. Another example: fear of the unconscious (which we know to be universal) may take the form of an anxious desire to be able to prove its existence, covering, of course, the hope that it does not exist. A variant of this is where fear of the inside of the mother's body activates all fear of the unknown, including ultimately fear of unknown theory. There are, of course, many other types of subjective reaction, such as a ‘virginal’ reaction of students to theory, or a tendency to regard it like the Ark of

- 344 -

the Covenant as a sacred untouchable structure. In the former case theory is reacted to as an agent of seduction that might loosen temptations and stimulate habits. In the latter the importance of ‘zather-attributes’ is obvious. Now these reactions are not by any means unique; if you happen to analyze students of the so-called exact sciences you will come across the same reactions. But they are more easily elicited in the case of students of psychoanalysis. May I quote here a good example of reaction which is patent in most students? It is a reaction of modified hostility; the reasoning is that, since a certain percentage of scientific findings are likely in the long run to prove erroneous, the student in quection will devote himself to purging the science of inaccuracies and irrelevancies.

“In the first place all psychoanalysts are students and remain students to the end. Moreover, all students start on terms of equality. Previous orientation in non-analytical psychology or philosophy is not essential, and in some obsessional character types it is a positive drawback. Speaking to the group of training analysts he says: “Not only have you taken the first step in attaining equality, viz., by undergoing personal analysis, but, as you will soon find, the relationship between psychoanalytical psychology and academic psychology is similar to the relation existing between the unconscious mental system and consciousness. In a sense our relations to formal psychology are only a shade more intimate than our relations to physiology. It is true that descriptive psychology concerns itself with the data of consciousness, and is therefore strictly a psychological pursuit; whereas physiology is just outside the borderland of psychological preoccupation. But in the sense that descriptive psychology is concerned with the surface of an apparatus to the exclusion of its internal structure, dynamics and economics, it is almost as much a frontier activity as the physiological investigation of sources of instinct is a frontier activity, an investigation of an inner periphery.”

As to outside auxiliaries a knowledge of biology and anthropology can do one no particular harm. Hobbies are personal but Glover would indicate the value of increased interest in the meaning of words, even to philology as far as opening up folklore, etymology if no further. Analytic theory is complicated, but so is life and any dynamic apparatus, but it is less complicated, possibly, than the theories of liver function. If it be considered what at present constitutes the pillars of psychoanalysis it may be summarized much as Freud has prevised them—(1) the existence of a structural and a dynamicunconscious’ (now the Id), (2) repression (now an example of defense), (3) the concept of libido and infantile sexuality, and (4) mental conflict.

In regard to psychoanalytic literature one should not be disturbed by the supercilious comments on Freud's works as of scriptural authority. The more one reads them the more one notes their freedom from dogmatism. The ‘dogmas’ have come from critics who snip out isolated

- 345 -

sentences here and there with no acquaintance with the facts nor with the meanings. It is at times disconcerting to make ‘discoveries’ in one's work and find them to have been ‘made before.’ This will constantly happen. There is little squabble about priority in psychoanalysis. One can read and reread Freud to advantage. With reference to the critical attitude founded upon the percentage possibilities of errors in all scientific theories and the hurled bombs of psychoanalysis as a ‘hot house production, ‘a’ closed system, ‘a’ cult, ‘no criticism allowed,’ etc., etc. [Glover might have quoted Bacon's famous saying, “Truth is the daughter of Time.”—Ed.], he counsels no controversy. Unsound theories die of themselves or at least atrophy of disuse. Work with the material is the greatest corrective of unsound theory. After all this percentage attitude is but a remnant of the castration complex. Then there is an obsessional overestimation of theory to be looked out for. Knowledge of theory is no guarantee of practical capacity. Under ideal circumstances what is really required of psychoanalytical theory ? Glover says we may safely impose three conditions: (a) that it should be a convenient and compact systematization of existing data, (b) that it should present as sparingly as possible those conclusions which appear to have stood the test of time, (c) that the theoretical structure should not be too cramped or rigid. It should be sufficiently elastic to permit of modification without collapse, and it should stimulate speculative and research activities. It may be noted that special attention is paid in this scheme to the part played by speculation. It is only natural that the science which first described the mental activities of unconscious and preconscious mental systems should pay tribute to that end-product which is usually suspect in other sciences. Provided one has ascertained that he has no unconscious axe to grind, one may speculate as much as one pleases. Of certain ideas, Freud remarks that they can only be worked out by ‘combining facts with pure imagination many times in succession,’ although, as he says elsewhere, ‘the basis of the science on which everything rests … is observation alone’.”

So much for subjective difficulties. Now as to a great obstacle and that is of thinking psychologically. “When we think,” writes Glover, of our relations to an ‘external object,’ in the sense of a person to whom we have deflected interest from ourselves, we are usually prepared to say that this object is really something' in our mind, ‘an’ image' if we like, or, if we wish to be more precise, the charging and lighting up (cathexis) of a ‘memory trace’ So far our psychological behavior is beyond reproach. But let us assume that in any given crisis an ‘object’ disappoints us, does not come up to our expectations, and that we allow ourselves to dwell on the ‘might have been,’ we are prepared to say that this imagined behavior is a product of our phantasy, that we are thinking of an ‘ideal’ or ‘phantasy object’ This is where our mind tends to slip: we think of the ‘phantasy object’ as a mental presentation, but

- 346 -

tend to treat the ‘real object’ as something outside our mind. If we do so we are abandoning psychological thinking at the behest of a mental mechanism which ‘projects’ painful representations.

“Take another example: if we examine our ‘interest’ in the original object, we begin to classify our reactions to objects in terms of ‘attraction’ and ‘repulsion’ and proceed to dally with the idea of mental ‘energy’ At this point we may set out on a downhill journey: thinking of ‘energy’ we use expressive terms such as ‘flow,’ begin to imagine ‘measurement,’ and end up by thinking of a substance instead of a concept. Again, when we consider our ‘interests’ or ‘needs’ in terms of behavioristic data, we begin to classify our instincts in accordance with their ‘aim’ or ‘object.’ Or we may generalize about our instincts by relating them to their ‘source’ and proceed to label these sources with extra-psychological labels. For example, we classify certain interests in accordance with their localization, e.g., ‘oral’ or ‘anal,’ and, if we are not careful, tend to think of the mental processes in question as if they existed in the ‘mouth’ or ‘anus’ instead of in the mind.

“Here then is a perpetual source of difficulty in dealing with theoretical concepts. The relations of ideas to ideas are never—except in the case of particular sublimations and particular psychoses—so highly charged with interest as the associations of direct perceptual experience, and there is a constant tendency to regress from one interest to the other. Our main concern then should be to eliminate all possible pathological stimuli tending to make the path to regression easier or more seductive. Having done so as far as possible (by personal analysis) we can proceed with the finishing touches, viz., various mental disciplines promoting reality (scientific) thinking.”

Now arises the (repressions) defense. In the first place one must use ‘consciousness’ as a tool even as a makeshift instrument. Here the fixations of old words and meanings force one to new terms. Here new terms have been manufactured, abbreviation conventions employed, and old words borrowed. Here in talking with non-analytic psychologists difficulties arise. ‘Cant,’ ‘jargon,’ ‘exclusive,’ etc., are some of the critic's expletives. It is doubtful if it is worth while trying to instruct those whose resistance indicates so readily the wish not to be disturbed.

7.   Hárnik, J. Fear of Death in Early Infancy. —Abstracted. See Psychoanalytic Review (to be published).

8.   Pfeifer, S. A Form, of Defence. —Abstracted. See PSYCHOANALYTIC REVIEW (to be published).

9.   Shorter CommunicationsBook Reviews. —An extended and careful book review of the Healy, Bronner book is given by McCord, which in terms of local jargon ‘rips it up the back’ This book review should be read by all analysts.

- 347 -

Article Citation

Jelliffe, S.E. (1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(3):334-347

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.