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Holder, A. (1975). Theoretical and Clinical Aspects of Ambivalence. Psychoanal. St. Child, 30:197-220.

(1975). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 30:197-220

Theoretical and Clinical Aspects of Ambivalence

Alex Holder, Ph.D.


FOR EVERY PSYCHOANALYST, AMBIVALENCE IS PART OF HIS EVERYDAY vocabulary and is perhaps one of the most frequently used (and misused) psychoanalytic terms. It may therefore come as a surprise to find that the term is listed only in the supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary, even though it was coined and introduced into psychoanalytic literature well over half a century ago. The term is there defined as "having either, or both, of two contrary values or qualities." It was Eugen Bleuler who used the term for the first time in a lecture on the subject in 1910. In it, he differentiated between three types of ambivalence—voluntary, intellectual, and emotional ambivalence.

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