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Rangell, L. (1963). The Scope of Intrapsychic Conflict—Microscopic and Macroscopic Considerations. Psychoanal. St. Child, 18:75-102.

(1963). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 18:75-102

The Scope of Intrapsychic Conflict—Microscopic and Macroscopic Considerations

Leo Rangell, M.D.

The theory of psychoanalysis has from the beginning been a conflict theory. In broad strokes, the sequence of Freud's thinking went through a number of crucial stages with regard to the nature of the basic etiologic conflict (Nemiah, 1962). The earliest phase, as reviewed by Rapaport (1960), was conceived as occurring "between the memory of the traumatic event and the dominant ideational mass of the person, or as the conflict of the ideas and affects present in the traumatic situation with the moral standards of society." The latter having been internalized and taken over by the patient as his own, the conflict was seen at once as an intrapsychic one, although a step removed from having been inner vs. outer. It was early conceived in topographic terms, i.e., between unconscious memories, ideas and affects, and the essentially conscious inner dictates of morality. The dynamic and economic points of view were implicit in the assumptions made, and were soon made manifest.

The intrapsychic locus of the conflict thus existed long before the structural point of view. In the next development, the conflict was seen as between "the wishful impulse" and the endopsychic censorship, or as between the primary and the secondary processes (Freud, 1900). Later, the intrapsychic components opposing each other consisted of libidinal vs. ego-preservative instincts, both forces residing within the instinctual drives (Freud, 1911), (1914).

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