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Spitz, R.A. (1945). Diacritic and Coenesthetic Organizations: The Psychiatric Significance of a Functional Division of the Nervous System into a Sensory and Emotive Part. Psychoanal. Rev., 32(2):146-162.

(1945). Psychoanalytic Review, 32(2):146-162

Diacritic and Coenesthetic Organizations: The Psychiatric Significance of a Functional Division of the Nervous System into a Sensory and Emotive Part

R. A. Spitz

As with everything pertaining to the psyche, the bane of psychiatric problems has been that they present not only a psychic, but also a somatic aspect. Psychiatry has therefore tried to approach its problems from first one aspect and then the other. Up to a comparatively recent date the approach was a purely empirical one, following the lines of trial and error.

In the course of time the need of a theoretical basis became pressing. Psychiatrists first tried to meet this need with the help of anatomical criteria. The organicists in particular endeavored to find the cause of mental disease with the help of histological investigation of the central nervous system. However, the result of these investigations was unsatisfactory.

The approach from the psychological side came later. It was made by Freud at the end of the last century. His concept, psychoanalytic psychiatry, followed the lines of a functional division of the personality and provided several entities within the psyche. These entities differ in their structure, in their content, in their dynamics, and above all, in their function. Notwithstanding this, they are not only interactive, but are parts of one system of which they can and do alternately assume control. Furthermore, their limits are considered to be variable, so that any of these systems could, under certain circumstances, replace parts of any of the other.

The idea of a functional approach has also appealed to neurologists.

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