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Hartmann, H. Kris, E. Loewenstein, R.M. (1946). Comments on the Formation of Psychic Structure. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:11-38.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:11-38


Comments on the Formation of Psychic Structure

Heinz Hartmann, M.D., Ernst Kris, Ph.D. and Rudolph M. Loewenstein, M.D.

I. Introduction

Concern with clarification of terms is unpopular amongst psychoanalysts and rare in psychoanalytic writing. This is partly due to Freud's example. Semantics could hardly be the concern of the great explorer and some inconsistency in the usage of words may well be considered the prerogative of genius. It is a different matter when a generation or two of scientists assume a similar prerogative; then scientific communication may tend to suffer and controversy to dissolve into soliloquies of individuals or groups. The latter conditions seem to prevail in recent psychoanalytic writing and clarification of terminology may well be one of the means to counteract it.

Psychoanalysis has developed under social conditions rare in science. Small teams of private practitioners everywhere formed the nuclei of larger professional groups. During the early stages of team work, written communication was supplemented to such an extent by personal contact on an international scale—mainly by training analyses with the few instructors—that mutual understanding was not endangered by uncertainties of terminology. With the increase of the number of psychoanalysts, that condition was bound to change. The situation of the 1940's is hardly reminiscent of the period of early team work; large groups of psychoanalysts work in ever looser contact with each other and the diffusion of psychoanalytic concepts in psychiatry, their extension into psychosomatic medicine, social work and various educational and psychological techniques opens up new vistas of development. Every step in this development, every new context in which psychoanalytic propositions are being tested or used raises anew the problem of adequate communication.

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