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Kinston, W. Cohen, J. (1988). Primal Repression and Other States of Mind. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 11(2):81-105.

(1988). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 11(2):81-105

Primal Repression and Other States of Mind

Warren Kinston, B.Sc, M.B.B.S., M.R.C.Psych. and Jonathan Cohen, M.D.

In this paper, we will elaborate a classification of mental states which has emerged from recent clinically-based research at Brunel University into the nature of narcissism, trauma and repression. A particular feature of the theory that has emerged is the distinction between mental contents (feelings, fantasies, conflicts and so on) and the overall personal context or “mental state” in which they occur. Kinston introduced the term psychostatics in this Journal (1983b) to refer in general to such mental states, as distinct from psychodynamics which refers to processes that generate states or operate within them. We have tested the ideas in supervisions, seminars and by studying published cases. The classification of states to be offered seems reliable. Judgements as to state are based in direct observation and experience of the analyst in relation to the patient, and serve as a guide to clinical intervention.

Psychic Structure and Repression

We suggest that the functions of psychic structure are to protect a person's experience, to maintain his identity, and to enable assimilation and mastery of new experience emerging from his internal and external world. If the theoretical notion of psychic structure is to be accessible to practising analysts, it must be understood as built up from experience and meaning. Structure, in our clinical conception, develops through “representations” or to sound less pictorial as Friedman (1980) correctly advises, through “emotional understandings”.

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