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Lustman, S.L. (1962). Defense, Symptom, and Character. Psychoanal. St. Child, 17:216-244.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 17:216-244

Defense, Symptom, and Character

Seymour L. Lustman, Ph.D.

This paper will attempt to use the phenomenological data of child analysis to examine the genetic interrelationships between defense, symptom, and character formation. To do this, I will focus primarily on the similarities and differences between two rather sharply delineated behavioral patterns, and attempt to trace some of their vicissitudes as they emerged in the analysis of a child. One pattern, cleansing, at the apex of its frequency gave the appearance of a compulsive symptomatic act. With the passage of time, further maturation, and the progress of the analysis, its frequency sharply diminished, but aspects of it remained which approached a character trait. The "symptomatic" aspects of this behavior will then be contrasted with another behavioral pattern, "bravery," which assumed a more clearly defined characterological basis. It is my thesis that a developmental approach to the emergence of these behavioral configurations affords opportunities to bring relevant empirical data into closer relationships with psychoanalytic theory.


Since this problem can be approached with a variety of investigatory techniques, I would like to preface my material with some general methodological concerns. One major problem of psychoanalytic research lies in the area of defining the "sample" which is under study.

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