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Psychoanalysis, post-Freudian

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-W031-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 24, 2024, from

Article Summary

The basic concepts of psychoanalysis are due to Sigmund Freud. After establishing psychoanalysis Freud worked in Vienna until he and other analysts fled the Nazi occupation. Post-Freudian psychoanalysis has evolved in distinct ways in different countries, often in response to influential analysts who settled there.

Freud’s patients were mainly adults who suffered from neurotic rather than psychotic disturbances. He found their psychological difficulties to be rooted in conflict between love and hate, caused by very disparate, often fantastic, images deriving from the same parental figure. These images provided the basic representations of the self and others, formed by processes of projection (representing the other via images from the self) and introjection (representing the self via images from the other). The internalized image of a parent could be used to represent the self as related to some version of the other, as in the formation of the punitive super-ego, or as like the other, as in the identification with the parent of the same sex through which the Oedipus complex was dissolved.

Later analysts, including Anna Freud and Melanie Klein, observed that the uninhibited play of children could be seen to express fantasies involving such images, often with striking clarity. This made it possible to analyse children, and to see that their representations of the self were regularly coordinated with fantastic representations of others, with both organized into systematically interacting systems of good and bad. Emotional disturbance was marked by a fantasy world in which the self and idealized good figures engaged in conflict with hateful bad objects, unmitigated by any sense that all derived from the same self and parental figures.

Such observations made it possible to confirm, revise and extend Freud’s theories. Klein saw that symptoms, character and personality could be understood in terms of relations to internalized fantasy-figures, laid down in early childhood; and this extended to psychotic disturbances, such as schizophrenia and manic-depressive illness, which turned on the particular nature of the figures involved. This gave rise to the British object-relations approach to psychoanalysis. It also influenced the development of ego-psychology and self-psychology by Hartmann, Kohut and others in the United States, and Lacan’s attempt to relate psychoanalysis to language, in France.

Citing this article:
Hopkins, James. Psychoanalysis, post-Freudian, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-W031-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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