Developments in Ego Psychology
Leon Balter, M.D.
Eric Weitzner, M.D.
January 17, 2018 - May 2, 2018
8:40 - 10:00 PM
All first year courses.
Candidates must have at least one case in supervised psychoanalysis to be eligible to take second year courses.
With the publication of The Ego and the Id (1923) and Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926), Freud completed the ground plan of psychoanalytic theory (the so called, "structural model"). The main elements of the ground plan were (1) mental structure: id, ego and superego; (2) dual drive theory: libido and the destructive/aggressive drive; (3) the points of view of metapsychology: dynamic, economic and topographic/ structural points of view; (4) a developmental view of the mental drives, affects and structure combined with a genetic conception of conflict and conflict resolution; (5) the oedipus complex as the "nuclear complex of the neuroses" and the "shibboleth" of psychoanalysis.
This course will follow the continuous historical development of that ground plan as it was elaborated, modified, and transformed since 1926 until the present. That development will express a dynamic dialectic whereby theory and clinical practice produced both insights and challenges for each other. This dialectical tension resulted in the longest continuous progressive development in the history of psychoanalysis—called variously (and inadequately) "ego psychology, " "structural theory," "classic" or "traditional" psychoanalysis, "conflict theory."
Of necessity, the papers read in this course will concentrate upon the theoretical element of the dialectic which produced the development under study. However, the clinical bases and the clinical problems involved are inherent in the readings themselves and will be addressed directly. What will not be addressed so directly are the various controversies, inside and outside of psychoanalysis, which surrounded and influenced the course of development outlined here, from the 1920s to the present. Those controversies, important for any adequate understanding of the history of psychoanalysis, would require several other courses to do them justice. Some of your later courses will, in fact, acquaint you with them. But, interesting as those controversies are, they may best be understood in relation to the theoretical-clinical development set out in this course.
The course will be divided, somewhat artificially, into three parts: (I) the structural model and its immediate consequences; (II) developments in the theory of the ego; (III) the superego and narcissism.
I. This section will begin with Freud's own synopsis and overview of the (then) new ground plan. It will then take up the two most immediate consequences of that last theoretical innovation: the (clinical) analysis of character pathology and the (theoretical) principle of multiple function.
II. This section will follow the developments in the theory of the ego. It will show the very wide implications of the new ego concept, ramifying into areas only modestly addressed by the older theories. This demonstrates that the new theory is the basis of a psychoanalytic general psychology. The areas taken up here are: adaptation, creativity, psychosis, fantasy and love.
III. This section will address various problems connected with the superego concept and the associated issue of narcissism: idealization, narcissistic objects, superego precursors and various efforts to re-define the superego accordingly.
No class held 2/14.
Syllabus 2017 - 2018
Not yet posted.
The course seeks to illuminate the development of the structural theory as an achievement culminating in psychoanalysis as a general psychology. It will also illuminate certain problems in superego theory.
Each student's participation in class discussion and his or her demonstration of understanding of the course objectives and reading material is assessed in a written evaluation by the instructor(s).