Neurotic Styles

Neurotic Styles

Neurotic Styles

Neurotic Styles

Excerpt

The context in which I wrote Neurotic Styles was the development in psychoanalysis known as ego psychology. Psychoanalytic interest in subjective life had consciously broadened beyond the traditional dynamics of drive and defense to include the workings of the mind as a whole, its adaptive capabilities as well as its internally defensive ones. This development, however, had not yet encompassed many of the concrete facts and problems of psychopathology, nor had it revised certain concepts of psychopathology that were, if not exactly obselete, at least in need of reexamination. The defense mechanisms for example, while still indispensable concepts, had been for some time an admittedly haphazard collection. They were, and are, largely ad hoc constructions accumulated over the years, based on clinical observations, but unrelated to one another and often psychologically unclear. No one really knew, for instance, how the defense mechanism of projection actually worked, why repression was associated with certain traits of personality, or how the four or five mechanisms usually identified with obsessive-compulsive conditions were related. Indeed, the problem of the "choice of neurosis," the emergence in. a given person of symptoms of this kind, rather than that, more! than invited a systematic attack from the new standpoint.

At the time I began to think along these lines I was immersed in clinical work, including a great deal of diagnostic testing, at the Austen Riggs Center, then a center of ego psychology. The task of diagnostic testing, as we did it at Riggs, was precisely to identify the ways of thinking, the general attitudes and modes of reaction that could account for the nature of the patients'

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