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Influential Papers from the 1950s

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The 1950s were a pivotal era in psychoanalysis. It was a time when psychoanalytic attention turned from the exploration of the internal world to the external. The influence of object relational ideas grew on various issues and Kleinian ideas gained a stronger foothold in North America. There were numerous contributions on the subject of countertransference from varying psychoanalytic schools of thought. Early preoedipal experiences between child and mother moved to the forefront of analytic theory, coupled with a growing recognition of the critical importance of this relationship on subsequent development. There was a burgeoning interest in serious personality disturbances.The first of the IJPA Key Papers Series: Papers from the Decades, this is an indispensable volume packed with classic texts that are as relevant today as they were in the 1950s, a pivotal era in psychoanalysis. They are essential reading for anyone connected to or interested in psychoanalysis.Contributors:Michael Balint; W.R. Bion; John Bowlby; Paula Heimann; Jacques Lacan; Margaret Little; Rudolf Loewenstein; Margaret Mahler; Roger Money-Kryle; Heinrich Racker; Annie Reich; Hanna Segal; D.W. Winnicott; and Elizabeth Zetzel.

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CHAPTER ONE. Hate in the counter-transference

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D. W. Winnicott

In this paper I wish to examine one aspect of the whole subject of ambivalency, namely, hate in the counter-transference. I believe that the task of the analyst (call him a research analyst) who undertakes the analysis of a psychotic is seriously weighted by this phenomenon, and that analysis of psychotics becomes impossible unless the analyst’s own hate is extremely well sorted-out and conscious. This is tantamount to saying that an analyst needs to be himself analysed, but it also asserts that the analysis of a psychotic is irksome as compared with that of a neurotic, and inherently so.

Apart from psychoanalytic treatment, the management of a psychotic is bound to be irksome. From time to time I have made acutely critical remarks about the modern trends in psychiatry, with the too easy electric shocks and the too drastic leucotomies. Because of these criticisms that I have expressed I would like to be foremost in recognition of the extreme difficulty inherent in the task of the psychiatrist, and of the mental nurse in particular. Insane patients must always be a heavy emotional burden on those who care for them. One can forgive those who do this work if they do awful things. This does not mean, however, that we have to accept whatever is done by psychiatrists and neurosurgeons as sound according to principles of science.

 

CHAPTER TWO. On counter-transference

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Paula Heimann

This short note on counter-transference has been stimulated by certain observations I made in seminars and control analyses. I have been struck by the widespread belief amongst candidates that the counter-transference is nothing but a source of trouble. Many candidates are afraid and feel guilty when they become aware of feelings towards their patients and consequently aim at avoiding any emotional response and at becoming completely unfeeling and “detached”.

When I tried to trace the origin of this ideal of the “detached” analyst, I found that our literature does indeed contain descriptions of the analytic work which can give rise to the notion that a good analyst does not feel anything beyond-a uniform and mild benevolence towards his patients, and that any ripple of emotional waves on this smooth surface represents a disturbance to be overcome. This may possibly derive from a misreading of some of Freud’s statements, such as his comparison with the surgeon’s state of mind during an operation, or his simile of the mirror. At least these have been quoted to me in this connection in discussions on the nature of the counter-transference.

 

CHAPTER THREE. Counter-transference and the patient's response to it

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Margaret Little

I will begin with a story.

A patient whose mother had recently died was to give a wireless talk on a subject in which he knew his analyst was interested; he gave him the script to read beforehand, and the analyst had the opportunity of hearing the broadcast. The patient felt very unwilling to give it just then, in view of his mother’s death, but could not alter the arrangement. The day after the broadcast he arrived for his analysis in a state of anxiety and confusion.

The analyst (who was a very experienced man) interpreted the patient’s distress as being due to a fear lest he, the analyst, should be jealous of what had clearly been a success and be wanting to deprive him of it and of its resjults. The interpretation was accepted, the distress cleared up quite quickly, and the analysis went on.

Two years later (the analysis having ended in the meanwhile) the patient was at a party which he found he could not enjoy, and he realized that it was a week after the anniversary of his mother’s death. Suddenly it came to him that what had troubled him at the time of his broadcast had been a very simple and obvious thing, sadness that his mother was not there to enjoy his success (or even to know about it), and guilt that he had enjoyed it while she was dead had spoilt it for him. Instead of being able to mourn for her (by cancelling the broadcast) he had had to behave as if he denied her death, almost in a manic way. He recognized that the interpretation given, which could be substantially correct, had in fact been the correct one at the time for the analyst, who had actually been jealous of him, and that it was the analyst’s unconscious guilt that had led to the giving of an inappropriate interpretation. Its acceptance had come about through the patient’s unconscious recognition of its correctness for his analyst and his identification with him. Now he could accept it as true for himself in a totally different way, on another level—i.e. that of his jealousy of his father’s success with his mother, and guilt about himself having a success which represented success with his mother, of which his father would be jealous and want to deprive him. The analyst’s behaviour in giving such an interpretation must be attributed to counter-transference.

 

CHAPTER FOUR. A contribution to the problem of counter-transference

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Heinrich Racker

I

The significance given to counter-transference and the importance attached to the corresponding problems depends on the significance given to the role of the analyst in the cure. This role is considered as a twofold one. First, he is the interpreter of the unconscious processes, and secondly, he is the object of these same processes. An immediate consequence of this is the twofold role of the counter-transference: it may intervene and interfere, firstly, inasmuch as the analyst is an interpreter, and secondly, inasmuch as he is the object of the impulses. As regards the former the counter-transference may help, distort, or hinder the perception of the unconscious processes. Or again, the perception may be correct but the percept may provoke neurotic reactions which impair his interpretive capacity. As regards the latter—the analyst as object—the counter-transference affects his manner and his behaviour which in turn influence the image the analysand forms of him. Through the analyst’s interpretations, the form he gives them, his voice, through every attitude he adopts towards the patient, the latter perceives (consciously or unconsciously) the psychological state he happens to be in—not to speak of the debatable question of telepathic perception. Thus the counter-transference, by affecting the analyst’s understanding and behaviour, influences the patient and especially his transference, that is to say, the process on which the transformation of his personality and object-relations so largely depend.

 

CHAPTER FIVE. Normal counter-transference and some of its deviations

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R. E. Money-Kyrle

Introductory

Counter-transference is an old psychoanalytic concept which has recently been widened and enriched. We used to think of it mainly as a personal disturbance to be analysed away in ourselves. We now also think of it as having its causes, and effects, in the patient and, therefore, as an indication of something to be analysed in him.

I believe this more recently explored aspect of counter-transference can be used, in the way described, for example, by Paula Heimann (1950), to achieve an important technical advance.2 But of course the discovery that counter-transference can be usefully employed does not imply that it has ceased ever to be a serious impediment. And as both aspects in fact exist, we may surmise that there may be a problem about their similarities and differences which still deserves investigation. Perhaps this problem may be put in the form of three related questions: what is “normal” counter-transference? How and under what conditions is it disturbed? And how can disturbances be corrected and in the process perhaps used to further an analysis?

 

CHAPTER SIX. On counter-transference

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Annie Reich

The act of understanding the patient’s productions in analysis and the ability to respond to them skilfully is not based solely on logical conclusions. Frequently the analyst can observe that insight into the material comes suddenly as if from somewhere within his own mindi Suddenly the confusing incomprehensible presentations make sense; suddenly the disconnected elements become a Gestalt Equally suddenly, the analyst gets inner evidence as to what his interpretation should be and how it should be given. This type of understanding impresses one as something which is experienced almost passively; “it happens”. It is not the result of an active process of thinking, like the solution of a mathematical problem. It seems obvious that this kind of insight into the patient’s problem is achieved via the analyst’s own unconscious. If is as if a partial and short-lived identification with the patient had taken place. The evidence of what is going on in the patient’s unconscious, then, is based on an awareness of what is now going on in the analyst’s own mind. But this identification has to be a short-lived one. The analyst has to be able to swing back to his outside position in order to be capable of an objective evaluation of what he has just now felt from within. Anyhow, the tool for understanding is the analyst’s own unconscious. When Freud advises that the analyst should listen with free floating attention, he has exactly this in mind. The material should be absorbed by the analyst’s unconscious; there should not be any aim-directed censoring or conscious elimination through the analyst’s attempts at rational thinking. This method of listening will guarantee the analyst’s ability to remember, in an effortless way, those parts of the patient’s previous material which connect with or serve to explain the new elements which are presented.

 

CHAPTER SEVEN. Current concepts of transference

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Elizabeth R. Zetzel

There are few current problems concerning the problem of transference that Freud did not recognize either implicitly or explicitly in the development of his theoretical and clinical framework. For all essential purposes, moreover, his formulations, in spite of certain shifts in emphasis, remain integral to contemporary psychoanalytic theory and practice. Recent developments mainly concern the impact of an ego-psychological approach; the significance of object relations, both current and infantile, external and internal; the role of aggression in mental life, and the part played by regression and the repetition compulsion in the transference. Nevertheless, analysis of the infantile Oedipal situation in the setting of a genuine transference neurosis is still considered a primary goal of psychoanalytic procedure.

Originally, transference was ascribed to displacement on to the analyst of repressed wishes and fantasies derived from early childhood. The transference neurosis was viewed as a compromise formation similar to dreams and other neurotic symptoms. Resistance, defined as the clinical manifestation of repression, could be diminished or abolished by interpretation mainly directed towards the content of the repressed. Transference resistance, both positive and negative, was ascribed to the threatened emergence of repressed unconscious material in the analytic situation. Soon, with the development of a structural approach, the superego described as the heir to the genital Oedipal situation was also recognized as playing a leading part in the transference situation. The analyst was subsequently viewed not only as the object by displacement of infantile incestuous fantasies, but also as the substitute by projection for the prohibiting parental figures which had been internalized as the definitive superego. The effect of transference interpretation in mitigating undue severity of the superego has, therefore, been emphasized in many discussions of the concept of transference.

 

CHAPTER EIGHT. Attacks on linking

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W. R. Bion

In previous papers (1957a) I have had occasion, in talking of the psychotic part of the personality, to speak of the destructive attacks which the patient makes on anything which is felt to have the function of linking one object with another. It is my intention in this paper to show the significance of this form of destructive attack in the production of some symptoms met with in borderline psychosis.

The prototype for all the links of which I wish to speak is the primitive breast or penis. The paper presupposes familiarity with Melanie Klein’s descriptions of the infant’s fantasies of sadistic attacks upon the breast (1934), of the infant’s splitting of its objects, of projective identification, which is the name she gives to the mechanism by which parts of the personality are split off and projected into external objects, and finally her views on early stages of Oedipus complex (1928). I shall discuss phantasied attacks on the breast as the prototype of all attacks on objects that serve as a link and projective identification as the mechanism employed by the psyche to dispose of the ego fragments produced by its destructiveness.

 

CHAPTER NINE. Notes on symbol formation

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Hanna Segal

The understanding and interpretation of unconscious symbolism is one of the main tools of the psychologist. Often he is faced with the task of understanding and recognizing the meaning not only of a particular symbol but also of the whole process of symbol formation. This applies particularly to work with patients who show a disturbance or inhibition in the formation or free use of symbols, as for instance, psychotic or schizoid patients.

To give a very elementary example from two patients. One— whom I will call A—was a schizophrenic in a mental hospital. He was once asked by his doctor why it was that since his illness he had stopped playing the violin. He replied with some violence: “Why? do you expect me to masturbate in public?”

Another patient, B, dreamt one night that he and a young girl were playing a violin duet. He had associations to fiddling, masturbating, etc., from which it emerged clearly that the violin represented his genital and playing the violin represented a masturbation phantasy of a relation with the girl. Here then are two patients who apparently use the same symbols in the same situation—a violin representing the male genital, and playing the violin representing masturbation. The way in which the symbols function, however, is very different. For A, the violin had become so completely equated with his genital that to touch it in public became impossible. For B, playing the violin in his waking life was an important sublimation. We might say that the main difference between them is that for A the symbolic meaning of the violin was conscious, for B unconscious. I do not think, however, that this was the most important difference between the two patients. In the case of B, the fact that the meaning of the dream became completely conscious had in no way prevented him from using his violin. In A, on the other hand, there were many symbols operating in his unconscious in the same way in which the violin was used on the conscious level.

 

CHAPTER TEN. Autism and symbiosis, two extreme disturbances of identity

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Margaret Schoenberger Mahler2

My hypothesis of infantile psychoses is based upon two of Freud’s fundamental concepts. It is a quasi-sociobiological proposition. Freud emphasized that whereas the animal has an instinctual faculty for sensing danger in the outside world which enables it to take appropriate action to cope with such danger, this faculty has atrophied in the human being. In the human being the ego has to take over the reality testing which the id neglects (Freud, 1923). The predicament of the human young is immensely increased by still another biological circumstance—namely, by the fact that he is born at an earlier, less matured stage of physical development than any other mammal. These two interrelated circumstances, namely (i) the atrophy of the instinct of self-preservation, and (ii) the immaturity of apparatuses at birth, result in the human infant’s absolute dependence for his very survival on the nursing care of a mother or a mother substitute for a long period. Long after the child has been born, a species-characteristic social symbiosis between the infant and mother is necessary. I shall try to demonstrate that the syndromes of early infantile psychoses, both the autistic as well as the symbiotic type, represent fixations at, or regressions to, the first two developmental stages of “undifferentiation” within this early mother-child unity. Within that twilight stage of early life which Freud designated as primary narcissism, the infant shows hardly any sign of perceiving anything beyond his own body. He seems to live in a world of inner stimuli. The first weeks of extrauterine life are characterized by what (according to Ferenczi) we call the stage of hallucinatory wish-fulfilment. Whereas (the coenesthetic) the enteroceptive system functions from birth, the perceptual conscious system, the sensorium, is not yet cathected^ This lack of peripheral sensory cathexis only gradually gives way to perception, particularly to distance perception, of the outside world. However, most babies are born with an appropriate signal equipment for dealing with instinctual tensions when they mount beyond a tolerable degree. Their affectomotor reactions serve automatically to summon and use the mother as external executive ego (Spitz, 1951). Furthermore, as early as the first day of extra-uterine life the full term neonate displays a discriminatory grasping reflex (Stirnimann, 1949) which proves that he has a significant innate endowment for distinguishing in a sensori-motor way between the living part-object and lifeless matter. This primal ability to discriminate between animate and inanimate was given the name Urunterscheidung: Protodiakrisis, by von Monakow (Stirnimann, 1949).

 

CHAPTER ELEVEN. New beginning and the paranoid and the depressive syndromes

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Michael Balint

Editorial note

Nearly all the papers in this number of the Journal are by those of Mrs Klein’s colleagues or pupils whose approach to psychoanalysis is known to be strongly influenced by her theoretical conclusions, so that their work will be widely taken as representative of hers. We are glad to include this paper by one old colleague and friend who had appreciated her work from the beginning. But we feel it should be made clear that his views on certain basic points are not the same as hers.

The divergence concerns the role of unconscious phantasy and early development, and so naturally also affects psychoanalytic procedure. It may be illustrated by one example: Dr Balint, unlike Mrs Klein, believes there is a phase of primary object love in which aggressiveness, and the persecutory anxieties aroused by it, do not yet play an important role. But it is perhaps less about the priority than about the distorting influence of aggression that, in our view, far reaching differences lie. To Mrs Klein, aggression inevitably distorts the child’s picture of the world, making him feel attacked with hatred whenever he is at all thwarted or deprived. Early environment may do much to increase, or lessen, this sense of persecution; but a “bad” home does not create it, nor does a good one prevent it from appearing.

 

CHAPTER TWELVE. On transference

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D. W. Winnicott

My contribution to this Symposium on Transference deals with one special aspect of the subject. It concerns the influence on analytical practice of the new understanding of infant care which has, in turn, derived from analytical theory.

There has often, in the history of psychoanalysis, been a delay in the direct application of analytical metapsychology in analytical practice. Freud was able to formulate a theory of the very early stages of the emotional development of the individual at a time when theory was being applied only in the treatment of the well-chosen neurotic case. (I refer to the period of Freud’s work between 1905, the ‘Three contributions”, and 1914, “Narcissism”.)

For instance, the part of theory that concerns the primary process, primary identification, and primary repression appeared in analytical practice only in the form of a greater respect that analysts had, as compared with others, for the dream and for psychic reality.

As we look back now we may say that cases were well chosen as suitable for analysis if in the very early personal history of the patient there had been good enough infant-care. This good enough adaptation to need at the beginning had enabled the individual’s ego to come into being, with the result that the earlier stages of the establishment of the ego could be taken for granted by the analyst. In this way it was possible for analysts to talk and write as if the human infant’s first experience was the first feed, and as if the object-relationship between mother and infant that this implied was the first significant relationship. This was satisfactory for the practising analyst, but it could not satisfy the direct observer of infants in the care of their mothers.

 

CHAPTER THIRTEEN. Transitional objects and transitional phenomena—a study of the first not-me possession

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D. W. Winnicott

It is well known that infants as soon as they are born tend to use fist, fingers, thumbs in stimulation of the oral erotogenic zone, in satisfaction of the instincts at that zone, and also in quiet union. It is also well known that after a few months infants of either sex become fond of playing with dolls, and that most mothers allow their infants some special object and expect them to become, as it were, addicted to such objects.

There is a relationship between these two sets of phenomena that are separated by a time interval, and a study of the development from the earlier into the later can be profitable, and can make use of important clinical material that has been somewhat neglected.

The first possession

Those who happen to be in close touch with mothers’ interests and problems will be already aware of the very rich patterns ordinarily displayed by babies in their use of the first not-me possession. These patterns, being displayed, can be subjected to direct observation.

 

CHAPTER FOURTEEN. The nature of the child's tie to his mother

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John Bowlby

Psychoanalysts are at one in recognizing the child’s first object relations as the foundation stone of his personality: yet there is no agreement on the nature and dynamics of this relationship. No doubt because of its very importance, differences are sharp and feelings often run high. In this paper I am taking it for granted that today we are all agreed on the empirical fact that within 12 months the infant has developed a strong libidinal tie to a mother-figure2 and that our differences lie in how this has come about. What in fact are the dynamics which promote and underlie this tie?

My plan will be to begin by describing very briefly four alternative views which in greater or less degree of purity are to be found in the psychoanalytic and other psychological literature and to sketch a fifth which I believe may account more adequately for the data. I shall then attempt to assess what have been and are the views advanced in their writings by a number of leading analysts.

Before elaborating the view which I favour it will be necessary to discuss in rather summary fashion, first, some notions, including those of Piaget, regarding the development of perception and cognition and, secondly, some of the more recent theories of instinctual behaviour. Indeed, in writing it I have wondered whether this paper should not have been preceded by three others—one on cognitive development, a second on instinct, and a third on the comparative advantages and disadvantages on the one hand of direct observation of infants and on the other of reconstructions based on the psychoanalysis of older subjects. However, I have not taken this course, and instead am presenting a paper in which, I am acutely aware, despite its length a number of crucial matters are treated both controversially and cursorily.

 

CHAPTER FIFTEEN. Some remarks on the role of speech in psycho-analytic technique

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Rudolf M. Loewenstein

The discovery of the dynamic character of the unconscious, and the realization that most of the psychic processes usually observed in consciousness could be found also to exist preconsciously, led Freud to rely but little upon the presence or absence of conscious awareness in mental phenomena. Indeed, the factor of consciousness or its absence is elusive and deceptive, and the delimitation of the System Cs from the System Pes cannot always be carried out unambiguously. Thus a conception of the psychic apparatus devised so as to include consciousness among its essential elements could not prove entirely satisfactory.

To these difficulties one might perhaps attribute the fact that Freud, as Ernest Jones reports in the second volume of his biography (1955), destroyed his manuscripts devoted to problems of consciousness. At any event, Freud cut through these complications by his fundamental change of the framework on which he proceeded to base the functioning of the mental apparatus. We know that the introduction of the structural approach to psychic phenomena became tremendously fruitful for the development of psychoanalysis. We also know that it permitted an understanding and a description of our technical procedure which before would have been impossible. The concept of the ego, in particular, had the advantage of encompassing conscious as well as preconscious and unconscious phenomena, and of uniting them within a common functional organization. However, it did not dispose of the existence of conscious as opposed to preconscious and unconscious processes, and of problems related to the functional differences between them.

 

CHAPTER SIXTEEN. Some reflections on the ego

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Jacques Lacan

The development of Freud’s views on the ego led him to two apparently contradictory formulations. The ego takes sides against the object in the theory of narcissism: the concept of libidinal economy. The bestowal of the libidinal cathexis on one’s own body leads to the pain of hypochondriasis, while the loss of the object leads to a depressive tension which may even culminate in suicide.

On the other hand, the ego takes sides with the object in the topographic theory of the functioning of the perception-consciousness system and resists the id, i.e. the combination of drives governed solely by the pleasure-principle.

If there be a contradiction here, it disappears when we free ourselves from a naive conception of the reality-principle and take note of the fact—though Freud may have been clear on this point, his statements sometimes were not—that while reality precedes thought, it takes different forms according to the way the subject deals with it.

Analytic experience gives this truth a special force for us and shows it as being free from all trace of idealism, for we can specify concretely the oral, anal, and genital relationships which the subject establishes with the outer world at the libidinal level.

 

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