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Stolorow, R.D. Atwood, G.E. (1978). A Defensive-Restitutive Function of Freud's Theory of Psychosexual Development. Psychoanal. Rev., 65(2):217-238.

(1978). Psychoanalytic Review, 65(2):217-238

A Defensive-Restitutive Function of Freud's Theory of Psychosexual Development

Robert D. Stolorow, Ph.D. and George E. Atwood

In a series of recent papers1, 2, 3, 24 we have been studying systems of personality theory from a psychobiographical perspective. It is our contention that the structure of the theorist's subjective experiential world is inevitably imported into his metapsychological conceptions and hypotheses regarding human nature, limiting their generality and lending them a coloration expressive of his personal existence as an individual. By systematically interpreting the various theories as psychological products, embedded in the theorist's life history and personal phenomenology, we hope to deepen our understanding of these limiting subjective factors and lay the foundation for the construction of a more general and inclusive theoretical system.

The present paper is a partial analysis of the life and work of Sigmund Freud and aims at elucidating the subjective sources in Freud's life of certain features of his theory of psychosexual development. The Freudian system is of special interest to the student of the subjectivity of personality theory, because Freud's contributions were so intimately tied to his own self-analysis. In our view, the potential progress of any self-analysis is limited and circumscribed by two factors: first, by the absence of a systematic transference analysis; and second, by the fact that no individual can realistically be expected to stand completely outside of his own deepest conflicts and defenses.

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