Divergent Contemporary Trends in Psychoanalytic Theory
Otto F. Kernberg, M.D.
The psychoanalytic scene has changed significantly during the last twenty years, under the influence of increasing communication among the three major regions of psychoanalytic development—Europe, South America, and North America. The consequences of this increased communication within these regions have varied, depending on the regional predominance of certain psychoanalytic approaches over others. Within North America, the practical rapprochement between the psychoanalytic societies forming part of the American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA), and societies outside that organization has stimulated an increase in the interest in and development of relational psychoanalysis.
Relational psychoanalysis, within the presentations and publications at North American psychoanalytic meetings and journals, may represent, at this point, the preferred theoretical orientation of up to fifty percent of North American psychoanalysts, while recent developments in ego psychology predominate among the remainder. In Europe, particularly under the influence of the increasing contacts between French and British psychoanalysts, there has been a growing acceptance of British Kleinian and Winnicottian approaches on the part of the French psychoanalytic community, and the integration, particularly within Kleinian analysis, of the conceptualization of archaic triangulation and oedipalization characteristic of the French psychoanalytic approach. Naturally, as before, the influence of Lacanian thinking, and the reactions against it, are an important aspect of French, and, in general, Latin countries' orientations to psychoanalytic theory, while in the northern part of Europe, Kleinian, Winnicottian, and, to some extent ego psychological thinking are strongly represented.
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