Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To see who cited a particular article…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To see what papers cited a particular article, click on “[Who Cited This?] which can be found at the end of every article.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Loewald, H.W. (1970). Psychoanalytic Theory and the Psychoanalytic Process. Psychoanal. St. Child, 25:45-68.

(1970). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 25:45-68

Contributions to Psychoanalytic Theory

Psychoanalytic Theory and the Psychoanalytic Process

Hans W. Loewald, M.D.


I have looked at psychoanalysis mainly from the point of view of its being a scientific endeavor. It is far more than that, as is shown in the pervasive influence that psychoanalysis has had on many facets of modern Western civilization. And psychoanalysts should be the last to ignore or disregard this fact. Psychoanalysis, as practiced by some of its best, though often unknown representatives, is an art even more than a science. But here I have looked mainly at its scientific and theoretical face. I have emphasized that as a scientific theory it cannot be content to model itself after the traditional scientific theories constructed by such sciences as physics, chemistry or biology. Their subject matter, as viewed and investigated by these sciences, implies and presupposes a subject-object dichotomy, which is, so to speak, what puts them in business.

Although psychoanalysis took those theories as its model, it soon had to depart from them in essential ways, without being able or willing to make this explicit. The phenomena of transference and resistance as inherent and necessary ingredients of a psychoanalytic investigation do not conform to such a model. Hence, there was a tendency to relegate them to the lower echelon of "clinical theory" and not to admit them to the high plane of "metapsychology," even though Freud spoke of transference, for instance, in Chapter VII of The Interpretation of Dreams, in what would now clearly be considered a metapsychological context. The new structural theory, based on the conceptions of narcissism, "primary masochism," identification, introjection, and the formation of the superego, implied and expressed a new awareness of the fundamental importance of object ties for the formation of psychic structure. Although these ideas led further away from the old model, psychoanalysis nevertheless continued to cling to its theoretical premises. In many quarters

there still seems to be a tendency to put up a "no admittance" sign when metapsychological considerations point to object relations as being not merely regulative but essential constitutive factors in psychic structure formation.

I have maintained that the psychoanalytic process and deepened understanding of psychotic and early developmental processes reveal the interactional origin and nature of psychic reality, and have expressed my belief that a theory of the mind, of the psyche as it shows itself to psychoanalytic research, should start with the hypothesis of a psychic matrix within and from which individuation proceeds. In this regard I have tried to describe parallels between the psychoanalytic situation as a novel force field and earlier fields of psychic forces within which differentiated and autonomous psychic entities and structures arise and develop.

I have given a brief account of the processes of internalization and externalization which are involved in individuation and continue to be instrumentalities by which individuation in increasingly complex forms takes its course in human life. I have stressed that what is internalized are dynamic relations between psychic elements of a field of which the internalizing agent is one element. In accord with these views I reformulated the concept of instinctual drives and suggested a somewhat novel interpretation of the concept of hypercathexis.

It seems to me that most of the views I have advanced are at least implicit in Freud's work and that of many other psychoanalysts. Perhaps my contribution consists mainly in making some things explicit and drawing some unfamiliar conclusions.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2020, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.