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Contemporary Controversies in Psychoanalytic Theory, Techniques, and Their Appli

Contemporary Controversies in Psychoanalytic Theory, Techniques, and Their Appli

otto f. kernberg
Copyright Date: 2004
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Controversies in Psychoanalytic Theory, Techniques, and Their Appli
    Book Description:

    In this important book, esteemed psychoanalyst Otto F. Kernberg reviews some of the recent developments and controversies in psychoanalytic theory and technique.

    Gathering together both previously published articles and extensive new material, Dr. Kernberg examines such issues as the new psychoanalytic views of homosexuality, bisexuality, and the influence of gender in the analytic relationship. He explores the application of psychoanalysis to non-clinical fields, including the problem of psychoanalytic research and its clinical implications, the validation of psychoanalytic interventions in the clinical process, and the challenges of psychoanalytic education. He shows how psychoanalysis can be helpful in addressing such cultural problems as socially sanctioned violence. And he asserts the continued relevance of object relations theory and its compatibility with Freud's dual drive theory.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12836-9
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-v)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vi-vii)
    (pp. viii-x)

    • 1 freud’s theories and their contemporary variations
      (pp. 3-25)

      Psychoanalysis is (1) a personality theory and, more generally, a theory of psychological functioning that focuses particularly on unconscious mental processes; (2) a method for the investigation of an individual’s psychological functioning based on the exploration of his or her free associations within a special therapeutic setting; (3) a method for the treatment of a broad spectrum of psychopathological conditions, including the symptomatic neuroses (anxiety states, characterological depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, conversion hysteria, and dissociative hysterical pathology), sexual inhibitions and perversions (“paraphilias”), and the personality disorders. Psychoanalysis has also been applied, mostly in modified versions—that is, in psychoanalytic psychotherapies—...

    • 2 psychoanalytic object relations theories
      (pp. 26-47)

      Psychoanalytic object relations theories constitute so broad a spectrum of approaches that it might be said that psychoanalysis itself, by its very nature, is an object relations theory: all psychoanalytic theorizing deals, after all, with the impact of early object relations on the genesis of unconscious conflict, the development of psychic structure, and the re-actualization or enactments of past pathogenic internalized object relations in transference developments in the current psychoanalytic situation. The narrowest definition would restrict object relations theory to the so-called British School, particularly as exemplified in the work of Melanie Klein (1935, 1940, 1946, 1957), Ronald Fairbairn (1954),...

    • 3 the concept of drive in the light of contemporary psychoanalytic theorizing
      (pp. 48-59)

      The effort to develop a synthesis of Freud’s dual-drive theory (1920a, 1923, 1933b) and object relations theory by now has a long tradition that includes the contributions of Melanie Klein (1940, 1945, 1946, 1957), D. W. Winnicott (1958, 1965, 1971), Edith Jacobson (1964, 1971), and Margaret Mahler (Mahler and Furer, 1968; Mahler et al., 1975). As I noted in earlier chapters, some leading object relations theoreticians, such as Fairbairn (1954), Guntrip (1961, 1968, 1971), Sullivan (1953, 1962), Greenberg (Greenberg and Mitchell, 1983), and Mitchell (1988), have concluded that object relations theory and drive theory are essentially incompatible. Interpersonal psychoanalysis rejects...

    • 4 unresolved issues in the psychoanalytic theory of homosexuality and bisexuality
      (pp. 60-74)

      The scientific study of homosexuality is undoubtedly one of the most fraught examples of the harmful impact of ideology on scholarly inquiry. Indeed, given our still limited knowledge of the relative importance of biological disposition, psychodynamic features, and social and cultural influences in determining homosexuality in humans, it should not surprise us that powerful ideological currents, masked as scientific approaches, complicate our exploration of this field. And, as the cynic might say:“My belief is science, yours is ideology.” The psychoanalytic exploration of homosexuality cannot escape the powerful social biases affecting this field. In fact, no area of psychoanalysis has escaped...

    • 5 mourning and melancholia revisited
      (pp. 75-85)

      Mourning and Melancholia(1917) is Freud’s first and fundamental contribution to the psychoanalytic understanding of normal and pathological mourning, the psychopathology of major affective disorders, and the psychodynamic determinants of depression. It also marks major developments in psychoanalytic theory at large, particularly the early formulations of the concept of the superego, the fundamental nature of identification processes, and the role of aggression in psychopathology. It puts forth several strikingly original and fundamental propositions in the theory of the psychopathology of depression, including the central importance of aggression turned against the self when the lost object is invested with intensely ambivalent...

    • 6 resistances to research in psychoanalysis
      (pp. 86-93)

      The classical definition of psychoanalysis describes it as a theory of mental functioning, a means of investigating the human mind, and a method of treatment. Significant questions have been raised that signify an urgent need for more intense, consistent, and comprehensive research in all three of these domains.

      In the area of theory, the classical psychoanalytic metapsychology has been challenged by the explosion of knowledge in the biological sciences. The theory of drives as fundamental motivators of human behavior and psychoanalytic theories of the origins and structure of psychic functioning, psychopathology, and psychic change need to be integrated with the...

    • 7 authoritarianism, culture, and personality in psychoanalytic education
      (pp. 94-103)

      For an article titled “Institutional Problems of Psychoanalytic Education” (1986), I researched the claims that many psychoanalytic institutions are characterized by an atmosphere of indoctrination rather than free scientific exploration, with a rigid presentation and uncritical discussion of traditional theories; that candidates are systematically prevented from knowing the details of their faculty’s analytic work and therefore develop an unrealistic idealization of psychoanalytic technique as carried out by senior faculty; and that the excessive investment of authority in the training analyst has resulted in a fragmentation of the supervisory and monitoring process throughout candidates’ training and leads to self-demeaning attitudes in...

    • 8 a concerned critique of psychoanalytic education
      (pp. 104-131)

      Psychoanalysis is currently under powerful attack from within our culture and within the university—particularly from the viewpoints of a strong biologically oriented psychiatry and a cognitive-behaviorally oriented clinical psychology. Governmental and health delivery systems are questioning the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of psychoanalytic treatment. Controversies about the applicability of psychoanalytic concepts and techniques to psychotherapy and the competition of other psychotherapeutic approaches have raised basic conceptual, clinical, educational, and political questions.

      In this context, I believe that psychoanalytic institutes have the responsibility to go beyond transmitting psychoanalytic knowledge and methodology to new generations of candidates and must take a major...

    • 9 some proposed complementary solutions to the problems of psychoanalytic education
      (pp. 132-141)

      The proposals listed below have been formulated in various quarters with the intention to energize, innovate, and optimize psychoanalytic education. I have included some proposals that may be controversial and some that are self-evident, in an effort to bring all issues to the table rather than taking any particular stance regarding them. And the list, of course, is not exhaustive. The background is our shared concern over the relative stagnation of our educational methods over many years, over the authoritarianism and bureaucratization within many psychoanalytic institutes, and over the need for our educational institutions to develop an active response to...

    • 10 sanctioned social violence: a psychoanalytic view
      (pp. 142-169)

      Social violence refers to sustained sadistic, intentionally destructive behavior—against unarmed, defenseless, noncombatant civilians that is typically in dramatically sharp contrast to the ordinary actions of the perpetrators in their lives outside the specific area of interactions with selected human groups. I am explicitly excluding here belligerent behaviors as an expression of warfare, in which the combination of nationally mandated participation in the armed forces, the actual presence of armed, belligerent opponents, and the corresponding nationalistic ideological superstructure tolerates and encourages violence on a large scale. Nor am I here considering the voluminous psychoanalytic literature on the origins of warfare,...

    • 11 some psychoanalytic contributions to the prevention of socially sanctioned violence
      (pp. 170-190)

      In the previous chapter I explored the phenomenon of socially sanctioned violent behavior against defenseless civilians, behavior that is typically in dramatically sharp contrast to the ordinary standards and social behavior of the aggressors in their lives outside the specific area of violent assaults upon members of the groups selected as victims. I offered several postulates from a psychoanalytic viewpoint that may be helpful in preventing or mitigating this behavior.

      To summarize briefly, a fundamental source of social violence is the unresolved primitive aggression that is always potentially available in every individual but is usually controlled and integrated into normal...


    • 12 listening in psychoanalysis: the importance of not understanding
      (pp. 193-205)

      Listening in the context of a psychoanalytic exploration seeks, first of all, to understand a patient’s conscious experience and follow him to the boundaries of his self-awareness, while yet being aware that the relationship with the analyst may significantly limit his willingness or ability to share his conscious and preconscious experience, to open up the dark corners into which he himself is reluctant to look. Second, psychoanalytic listening implies searching for input from the patient that transcends his conscious and preconscious experience and that becomes evident by considering what is missing from his conscious experience as well as what he...

    • 13 the analyst’s authority in the psychoanalytic situation
      (pp. 206-220)

      A significant development in the theory of psychoanalytic technique during the past two decades, particularly in the United States, has been the tendency to question the authority of the psychoanalyst’s interpretations based on “facts” in the psychoanalytic situation. From different psychoanalytic viewpoints, with different theoretical underpinnings, the question has been raised, To what extent is the analyst’s stand toward the patient at risk of becoming an authoritarian imposition of the analyst’s view? Or to what extent are a respectful empathy with and understanding of the patient’s experiences in the psychoanalytic situation brushed aside by the analyst’s tendency to treat divergences...

    • 14 validation in the clinical process
      (pp. 221-231)

      In theory, every interpretation is a hypothesis to be confirmed or invalidated by the patient’s response. Often, both the patient’s immediate response and developments over several sessions have to be considered. The nature of the interpretation itself may be quite complex: often, an interpretation is not a simple statement but a set of progressive interventions that may start with the analyst’s clarification of the patient’s subjective experience, may then confront the patient with the implications of nonverbal aspects of his communication, and may even include observations derived from the analyst’s countertransference. What we hope for, the ultimate validation of our...

    • 15 the interpretation of the transference (with particular reference to merton gill’s contribution)
      (pp. 232-245)

      Contemporary controversies regarding transference analysis in the American psychoanalytic community present a panorama quite different from that offered by French psychoanalysis. I hope that my critical attitude toward recent trends in American psychoanalysis—particularly under the influence of Merton Gill’s critique of classical ego psychological approaches to transference analysis—will help to clarify the connections between the French psychoanalytic mainstream and some recent developments in the United States. At the same time, the influence of French psychoanalysis on my views should emerge throughout this chapter.

      Gill’s contribution (Gill, 1982; Gill and Hoffman, 1982a, 1982b) to psychoanalytic technique, summarized in the...

    • 16 the influence of the gender of patient and analyst on the psychoanalytic relationship
      (pp. 246-266)

      The influence of gender on the psychoanalytic situation is a complex topic and does not lend itself to simple generalizations; current views reflect the accumulated experience of several generations of psychoanalysts, developments in psychoanalytic technique, changing ideological crosscurrents in psychoanalytic theory, and new knowledge regarding similarities and differences in the development of the genders. Major open issues are the relationship between gender and sexuality and that between erotic desire and love; the psychoanalytic relationship as a facilitating and containing frame for the exploration of oedipal conflicts; and the related temptations, prohibitions, and derivatives of the erotic tension in the transference...

    • 17 convergences and divergences in contemporary psychoanalytic technique
      (pp. 267-284)

      One of the most interesting consequences of the discussion of “the common ground” of psychoanalysis (see Wallerstein, 1992) has been the increasing attention given to the actual principles of technique that flow from alternative psychoanalytic theories, in contrast to the “clinical theories” derived from these various formulations. In other words, general theory or metapsychology needs to be differentiated not only from clinical theory or patient-specific dynamic hypotheses in concrete clinical situations, but also from the technical strategies of case intervention. Although Wallerstein’s concept of the common ground ofclinicaltheory—as against the marked discrepancies in metapsychological ortheoreticalformulations—...

    • 18 recent developments in the technical approaches of english-language psychoanalytic schools
      (pp. 285-304)

      The “controversial discussions” at the British Psychoanalytic Society between 1941 and 1945 (King and Steiner, 1991), ending with the “gentlemen’s agreement” among Melanie Klein, Anna Freud, and Sylvia Payne, constitute, in my view, the starting point of the contemporary developments of approaches to technique within the English-speaking, particularly the North American and the British Psychoanalytic, communities. Those controversial discussions led to a clearer definition of the respective approaches of the ego psychological group led by Anna Freud, now called the “contemporary Freudians”; the Kleinian approach led by Melanie Klein; and the “middle group” approach, now called the “British Independents,” inspired...

    (pp. 305-324)
  7. INDEX
    (pp. 325-342)