50 Chapters
Medium 9780946439119

12. Strength of the Ego and Ego-pedagogy (1938)

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

SINCE the publication of Freud‘s The Ego and the Id in 1923, the conception of the ‘weak ego’, has been commonly accepted. It is curious that this has come about so rapidly and with so little opposition in spite of the established psycho-analytic theory tracing all neurotic symptoms to the conflict between the sexual instincts and the interests of the ego. If the ego is in fact weak, how can it be such an energetic advocate of its own interests that in this struggle it forces a continual compromise, thus producing a constant neurotic symptom ? This and other similar questions, however, have not been asked. Instead, the theory explored another path, keeping close to the assumption of the weak ego and even exaggerating it. The interests of the ego disappeared almost entirely from our theoretical considerations, and their place is now taken by various demands, such as those of the id, the environment and the super-ego. The ego itself is regarded as having almost no interests of its own; and the theoretical discussion is occupied solely with its dependence and the tasks that it has to fulfill. The result of this view becomes evident in the subject indexes of books by psychoanalysts, where there is less conscious revision than in the text itself. Thus it will be seen that in all works that have appeared since 1930, the headings ‘Interests of the Ego’, and ‘Strength of the Ego’, are no longer to be found.2 This is all the more remarkable because already in 1926 in ‘Inhibition, Symptom and Anxiety,‘3 three years after the publication of The Ego and the Id, Freud warned us not to forget that the ego can also be strong. It is true he only cited a few cases in which this strength was clearly noticeable, but that is because he was then merely concerned with proving the occasional strength of the ego. Our theory has not paid much attention to this point and the organisers of the Congress 4 are to be congratulated for putting this much-neglected theme up for discussion.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439119

16. New Beginning and the Paranoid and the Depressive Syndromes (1952)

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

1

I FELT greatly honoured when I was asked to contribute a paper to this number, as I cannot consider myself Mrs. Klein‘s pupil in the ordinary sense of the word. My justification for inclusion is a long-standing interest in her work, and—if I may call it so—a friendship dating back to our bygone Berlin days, when both of us were still under analysis, and by good luck for me we lived for some time only a few doors away from each other. In every other respect our positions were wholly different. I was a real beginner, fresh from the University, while Mrs. Klein was already an analyst of repute who was listened to attentively, even though at times ironically. She still had an uphill fight to face, being the only non-academic and the only child analyst in the midst of a very academic and very ‘learned’, German society. Time and again she caused embarrassment, incredulity or even sardonic laughter, by using in her case-histories the naive nursery expressions of her child patients. Yet, despite this ambivalent reception she remained steadfast in her primary aim of showing that neurotic symptoms and defensive mechanisms found in adults can be observed also in young children, and very often, in quite relevant respects, can be studied better in children than in adults. Both Mrs. Klein and the analytic world have travelled a long way since those days. Many—though certainly not all—of her then hotly disputed ideas have since become an integral part of the body of accepted analytic knowledge.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439331

VII Object and Subject

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

OBJECT, and for that matter subject too, are not quite exact and rather aggressive renderings of much gentler, unaggressive Greek words. The Greek originals were created by the philosopher-grammarians of the Stoic school and, it should be added, rather late in the day. Almost all the classical Greek literature as we know it was already extant. The Homeric epics, the tragedies of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus, the comedies of Aristophanes, the histories of Thucydides and Xenophon, all the beautiful poetry of Pindar, Sappho, Anacreon, etc., even the dialogues of Plato, had long been written when Aristotle, and after him the Stoa, started to tidy up our ways of thinking and speaking about things and events. For them the main thing in any statement about an act or a state was the verb. The thing or person about which the statement was made was called , which literally means ‘that which lies under’. The Latin translation substituted ‘being thrown’ instead of ‘lying’, and created ‘subject’, literally meaning ‘that which is thrown under’ (an action or a statement). The other person or thing to which the action or statement extends was called or , meaning literally ‘that which lies against or athwart’. This was translated into Latin as ‘object’, in the same aggressive way, meaning, ‘that which is thrown at or athwart’ (an action or a statement).

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439331

VI Reality Testing

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

IT is obvious that neither the philobat nor the ocnophil is fully justified in his picture of the world. They both rely on faults and omissions in their testing of reality. If it were not so, we should all enjoy—or abhor—in the same way the same pleasures and the same thrills.

We must now turn to the question of what enables one to maintain, against the testimony of one’s experience, that there are people who hold the exactly opposite view—that, for instance, roundabouts are either highly enjoyable or, on the contrary, horrid. The answer is that to a certain extent everyone mixes up external reality with his own internal world; that is to say, we all take our reactions and attitudes at any one time as proper and trustworthy indicators of what actually is happening in the external world. It would be easy to call this mixing up of external and internal realities a survival from the narcissistic period which tries to form the world in its own image. Although to some extent this is true, our problem remains unanswered; we have still to find out how this faulty reality testing is possible and why it persists in an adult.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439331

I Funfairs and Thrills

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

FUNFAIRS exist all over the world, from Bombay to San Francisco and from Alaska to New Zealand. Being so universal, they must respond to some essential human needs, We may even add, knowing what funfairs are, that the essential human needs they satisfy must stem from rather primitive layers of the mind.

Funfairs mean a break in the daily routine, in the exacting discipline of working life. They bring about an easing-offof the strict rules governing the life of society. In this sense they offer something akin to all other ‘holidays’. They have, however, special features which are peculiar to funfairs alone. These are represented partly by the kind of amusements and pleasures they offer, and partly by the way people feel towards these amusements and pleasures and behave when enjoying them.

The traditional pleasures found at funfairs may be classified under several headings. My list is certainly incomplete, but I hope it includes the most important items, (a) Food; () aggressive pleasures, such as throwing or shooting at things, smashing things up, etc.; (c) pleasures connected with dizziness, vertigo, impairment or loss of stability, such as swings, roundabouts, switchbacks; (d) various shows similar to but more primitive and cruder than those offered in circuses and theatres; (e) games of chance, either offered openly as such or slightly camouflaged as games of skill, the chances being usually heavily loaded against the player and the prizes offered hardly worth the stake; (f) soothsayers; (g) lastly, a comparative new-comer, the slot machine, offering either various peepshows or games of chance. In this chapter I shall discuss at any length only the first three kinds of these pleasures, in the hope that the results will throw some light on the other groups as well. The main discussion will be centred on the pleasures involving giddiness,

See All Chapters

See All Chapters