50 Chapters
Medium 9780946439348

7. Individual Differences of Behaviour in Early Infancy and an Objective Method for Recording Them (1945)

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

A. THE PSYCHO-ANALYTIC APPROACH

PSYCHOLOGY and biology are unanimous that ‘the child is father of the man’. To psychology this means that the behaviour, character and personality of the adult all have their origins in childhood.

In spite of the great practical importance of this for education, psychologists were not particularly interested in the child or in the processes that make a man of him until the discoveries of Freud and, somewhat later of the behaviourists, fundamentally changed the situation. Both psycho-analytic and be-haviouristic thinking are essentially genetical; a mental phenomenon is explained by tracing it back to a past phenomenon and by showing how the original has been changed into the present one by external and internal influences. This process of tracing back has to stop at one point or another. The two disciplines differ in a very interesting way in their attitudes in this respect.

The first halting point for psycho-analysis, one of paramount importance, was the Oedipus situation. Freud came, very early in his studies,2 to the conclusion that the child of 3-5 years has in many respects almost the same desires, feelings, urges and drives as the adult. This was a bold assumption, but Freud was soon able to verify it both through the study of the conscious and unconscious reminiscences of adults,3 and through direct observation of the child.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439119

5. Early Developmental States of the Ego. Primary Object-love (1937)

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

THE genetic approach is the principal method we use in our science of psycho-analysis; a mental phenomenon observed in the present is explained by tracing it back to a previous one, and by demonstrating how far and by what external and internal influences the previous process was changed into the present one. This crab-like thinking must, however, come to a halt somewhere, i.e. where the previous earlier phenomenon, the original one, can no longer be observed but must be inferred from what can be observed. In the early years of psychoanalysis theoretical research reached as far as the Oedipus situation, i.e. to the third to fifth year of life. The theoretical gains thus achieved led to greater power of observation and in turn the better-trained observers could verify all the theoretical assumptions.

Naturally research has not come to a standstill, and time and again attempts have been made to infer still earlier mental states from observations. This new situation, however, is utterly different from the previous one. Then only one theory, or, more correctly, two complementary theories—that of the classic Oedipus situation and that of the polymorph-perverse nature of infantile sexuality—were under discussion, today we have to deal with several theories that often contradict one another. Slight differences in theoretical constructions are understandable, but we hear and read of theories which diverge considerably and are often diametrically opposed. These differences somehow seem to depend on geography in a way that justifies one in speaking of regional opinions. Probably each one of us will protest against his ideas being submerged in a regional opinion and will quote sharp controversies within his own group; still the results of his work appear to a distant observer as one or more notes in a regional harmony. Such ‘regional‘— not quite identical but consonant—opinions have been formed during the last years2 in London, in Vienna and in Budapest.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439348

20. Pleasure, Object and Libido (1956)

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

Some reflections on Fairbairn’s modifications of psycho-analytic theory

ONE of the cardinal changes in psycho-analytical theory that Fairbairn has put forward in recent years is that libido is not pleasure seeking: it is object seeking.2 As this thesis is likely to cause difficulties in assessing the real importance of his ideas and, moreover, as the ways through which Fairbairn arrived at this conclusion are almost identical with the ways through which a number of highly important and at the same time highly controversial analytical theorems were arrived at, a critical examination of the methodological steps is certainly justified. One may even hope—provided the criticism of the methodology used is just and correct—that some aspects of the controversy might be settled for good.

I propose to start by examining the meaning of the word ‘libido’, In order to do so, we must ask what the concept was that Freud denoted by introducing this new term in the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905) and what has happened to this term during the fifty years of development since its introduction. Following, among others, the poet-philosopher Schiller, Freud recognised as the two great motive powers of all animal and human life ‘hunger and love’. To discuss his clinical experiences in the field of sexuality he needed a term denoting the intensity factor of all sexual strivings, and as he could not find a proper word for this in the German language he borrowed ‘libido’ from the Latin. This, then, was taken over by his English translators and has now been generally accepted, even by academic lexicographers such as the compilers of the Concise Oxford Dictionary.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439331

XIV Distance in Space and Time (by Enid Balint)

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

by Enid Balint

IN the previous chapters the philobat has been described as a person who finds pleasure in existing or moving about in what are to him friendly open spaces; who is not so much interested in leaving a place or arriving at another, as in the thrills and pleasures he experiences during his journey. These thrills are proportionate to his satisfaction in his skills, physical and mental, which enable him to make the journey. His pleasures therefore are partly in himself, in his own competence and power, and partly in the achievement which allows him to feel at one with objectless space. He is self-sufficient and fears no competitors for the favours of his objects, since he is not dependent on unobtainable objects.

The ocnophil is a person whose pleasure is found not in journeying from one place or object to another but in being in one place close to an object which he needs and values. He has no narcissistic pleasure in his mental or physical achievement; his satisfaction lies not in giving anything to his objects, but in getting something from them and being in close proximity to them.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780946439119

9. Character Analysis and New Beginning (1932)

Balint, Michael Karnac Books ePub

1

IT is generally accepted that today quite different demands are made of a ‘terminated analysis’, from those made a decade ago or even earlier. Today, for instance, Breuer‘s Frl. Anna would certainly not be released from analysis as cured; yet all her symptoms had disappeared, and she declared herself to be fit for work. Surprisingly perhaps, patients who, like her, have for long been free from symptoms, today continue their treatment. What do we want of them and, still more important, what do they require of us ? The removal of infantile amnesia, a recovered memory of the primal scene … ? I believe our patients would not remain with us for many months because of such reasons. What keeps them at their analytic work is their wish, often unconscious, to be able to love free from anxiety, to lose their fear of complete surrender.

Any of us could cite several cases in which the marked neurotic symptoms disappeared through the treatment in a relatively short time, but there still remained a complete incapacity or only a very qualified capacity for love. This state of affairs became particularly clear to me in working with so-called ‘organic’, patients.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters