Skip to main content

Full text of "Personality structure and human interaction;: the developing synthesis of psycho-dynamic theory"

See other formats


(('MM:;! *;!■;•'•. . • ■ 


Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 


By the same Author 





{With L.J, Tizard) 





The Developing Synthesis of 
Psycho-dynamic Theory 

Harry Guntrip, Ph.D. 

Fellow of the British Psychological Society 

Psychotherapist, Leeds University 

Department of Psychiatry 


Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 61-12135 
Second Printing 1964 


(g) Harry Gxintrip 1961 
Printed in the United States of America 


I have to thank Dr. Fairbaim for reading through the parts of 
this book that concern his views, to check their accuracy ; Dr. R. 
E. D. MarkilUe (Leeds Department of Psychiatry, Member of 
the British Psycho-Analytical Society) with whom I have had the 
opportunity to discuss the whole MS; Dr. J. D. Sutherland 
(Medical Director, Tavistock Clinic) for his criticism of chapter 
VII and his kindness in writing a Foreword ; and above all Dr. M. 
Brierley for detailed and valuable criticisms and suggestions. 

This book contains a certain amount of material that formed the 
first half of a thesis for the degree of Ph.D., presented to London 
University in 1953. The title of the thesis was 'The Implications 
of Recent Trends in Psycho- Analysis for Sociology'. By a happy 
coincidence one of the examiners appointed to judge the thesis 
was my early teacher, the late Professor J. C. Flugel, with whom 
subsequently I had the advantage of some discussion of its con- 
tents. The substance of chapters I, II, V, VIII and IX are taken 
from the thesis, with some expansion. Chapters III, IV, VI and 
VII are new, while the sections in the thesis on the views of 
Melanie Klein and Fairbaim have been entirely re-written. 
Chapters XVII and XVIII are also new. I have to thank 
London University for permission to reproduce the material 

A book of this type, surveying in a detailed and historical way 
the developments of psychodynamic thought over a period of 
eighty years, must either make a large use of quotations or else risk 
subtle distortion by presenting the views of other minds in the 
present writer's own words. I have preferred the former course for 
the sake of scientific accuracy. 

I am, therefore, all the more indebted to a long list of authors, 
Journal editors and publishers. Their permission to use their works 
thus has made it possible for me to employ this more accurate 
method. A full list of every book and article mentioned in the 
text will be found in the Bibliography, with full information as to 
author, Journal and publisher, both British and American. I take 
this opportunity of saying that in the case of all the books from 


which I have taken quotations, I have been able to do so because 
of the generous permission granted by the publishers named in 
this Bibliography. Quotation references in the text are given by 
author's name and date of book as listed in the BibUography. 

Finally my gratitude and thanks are due to my wife, not only 
for the typing of the whole MS, but also for her encouragement 
and her acceptance of much curtailment of our leisure together, 
v^thout which the book could not have been written. 


Acknowledgements 5 

Foreword by J. D. Sutherland 1 1 

Author's Preface 15 



1. Introduction : Practical and Theoretical Purposes 25 

2. Psychology and Psycho- Analysis 28 

3. Psychiatry and Psycho-Analysis 34 

4. The Development of PsychoAnalytical Theory 43 



( i) Thesis, Dynamic Psyghobiology 

5. The Starting-Point . Classic Freudian Psychobiology 55 

(i) Introduction 55 

(n) Physiology and Psychology 58 

(ill) Psychobiology, (a) Instincts, (b) Culture, (c) 

Psychotherapy 65 

(iv) Criticisms of Freud's Instinct-Theory by the 
'Culture Pattern' School, (a) Libido, (b) Aggres- 
sion 82 

6. The Later Freudian Structural Theory and Analysis 

of the Ego 87 

(i) Ego Analysis and Endopsychic Conflict 87 

(11) The Development of Freud's Ego-Analysis 89 


(m) Later Orthodox Development of Freud's Struc- 
tural Theory, (a) F. Alexander, (b) W. Reich 
and Anna Freud, (c) Hartmann, Kris and 

Loewenstein, (d) Winnicott lOi 

7. Process Theory and Personal Theory 118 

(i) Freud's Early Terminology Xl8 

(n) The Philosophy of Science 120 

(in) Freud's Metapsychology : The Pleasure Principle 125 

(iv) Freud's Metapsychology : The Death Instinct 1 29 

(v) Freud's Metapsychology: The Reality Principle 132 

(vi) Freud's Metapsychology and Ego- Analysis 1 35 

(vii) Brierley's Process Theory and Personal Theory 142 

(vni) Recent Discussions, 1955-6, Colby et al. 146 

(2) Antithesis, Dynamic Psyghosogiology 

8. The 'Culture Pattern' Theory and Character Analysis. 

Adler, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm 161 

9. H. S. Sullivan's Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry. 174 

A Note on Carl Jung 190 

(3) Emerging Synthesis, Psyghodynamig Theory 
OF the 'Person' and personal relationships 

10. The Relation of Melanie Klein's Work to Freud 192 
(i) The Early Development of Mrs. Klein's Con- 
ceptions 1 95 
(n) The New Emphasis on Aggression 207 


1 1 . The Psychodynamic Theory of Melanie Klein 215 

(i) Psychic Reality 2 18 

(11) Internal Objects and Psychic Structure 219 

(ill) Phantasy 222 

(iv) The Inner World 225 

(v) The Super-Ego and the Internal Object World 230 

12. Melanie Klein: Theory of Early Development and 

'Psychotic' Positions 234; 


(i) The Depressive and the Paranoid-Schizoid 

Positions 234 

(11) The Primary Unity of the Ego 239 

13. The Relation of Fairbaim's Work to Freud 246 

(i) Fairbairn and Freud 246 
(n) The Attitudes of Freud and Fairbairn to Science 

and ReHgion 248 

(ill) Fairbairn's Early Writings 257 

(iv) The *Kleinian' Period 267 

14. Fairbairn. A Complete 'Object-Relations' Theory of 

the Personality, (i) Libido Theory 276 

(i) Rejection of Biological Psychology 279 

(n) The Schizoid Problem and Object-Relations 282 

(m) Theory of Motivation and Developmental Phases 287 

(iv) Theory of Psychoneurosis 294 

(v) Criticisms of Fairbairn's Theory 297 

(vi) Theory of Psychosis and the Psychopathology of 

Infantile Dependence 009 

(vn) Comparison with Rank's 'Birth Trauma' Theory 3 1 8 

15. Fairbairn. A Complete 'Object-Relations' Theory of 

the Personality. (2) Endopsychic Structure 321 

(i) The Pattern of Endopsychic Structure 324 

(n) The Analysis of the Super-Ego 030 

16. Melanie Klein and Fairbairn 336 



17. The Basic Forms of Human Relationship 351 

18. Theory and Therapy 380 

(i) Biological and Social Dependence of the Child 381 

(11) Pathological Dependence 084 

A^ (m) Active and Passive Aspects of Infantile Depend- 



(iv) The Characteristics of Pathological Dependence 390 


(v) Theory and the Approach to Therapy 395 

(vi) D. W. Winnicott's Views on Therapeutic Regres- 
sion 3g6 

(vn) Fairbaim*s Views on Object-Relations Theory 

and Psychotherapy 413 

(viii) The Final Problem : (a) The Hard Core of Re- 
sistance to Psychotherapeutic Change; (b) The 
Re-orientation of Psychodynamic Theory 417 

Bibliography 445 





y. D, Sutherland 

This is an important book because it grapples in a profound 
and rigorous way with many of the basic theoretical questions 
which confront psycho-analysts and all other students of person- 
ality and of human interaction. Many critical surveys have been 
written of the growth of certain aspects of psycho-analytical theory, 
but only a few comprehensive appraisals have been made of the 
basic concepts of psycho-analytic thought as a whole. This lack 
has been made more conspicuous by the fact that the fundamental 
contributions of Mrs. Klein and other British psycho-analysts 
have tended to be ignored by most psycho-analysts in the United 
States. Marjorie Brierley's Trends in Psycho- Analysis (No. 39 in 
this Series) in 195 1 was a brilliant start in bridging this gap and 
the present volume is a worthy successor. 

Dr. Guntrip's qualifications for his task are exceptional. After 
a training in philosophical, religious, literary and social studies he 
became a full-time psychotherapist; and although not trained 
formally as a psycho-analyst he had a long personal analysis with 
Dr. W. R. D. Fairbaim. Ernest Jones in his Preface to Fairbaim's 
book. Psycho-analytic Studies of the Personality, wrote that Fair- 
baim's geographical isolation as a psycho-analyst was conducive 
to the indisputable originahty of his ideas, ideas which would 
*surely prove extremely stimulating to thought'. Jones was not 
given to making such prophecies readily and on this occasion he 
was certainly right. It does not require more than a look at the 
chapter headings to see that Dr. Guntrip has been greatly influ- 
enced by Fairbaim's contributions to personality theory ; and as 
the author points out, Fairbaim's writings had made a great im- 
pression on him before his analysis. 

Dr. Guntrip shares with Fairbaim a deep concern for the proper 
status of psycho-analysis in relation to the natural sciences. There 


are many signs to-day — e.g. the growth of interest in Existential- 
ism amongst psychiatrists — of dissatisfaction with some of the basic 
tenets in personality theory, especially those which Dr. Guntrip 
summarizes as the loss of man as a person when science treats him 
as an object of investigation. And this is his explicit theme, the 
struggle to get psycho-analytic and personality theory towards a 
position which does justice to the reality of the individual as a 
person. As he stresses, this was a conflict which Freud experienced 
with great intensity and which he was only partially successful in 
overcoming, the unresolved residue being manifest in his theory of 
instinct. In recent years many psycho-analysts have expressed their 
dissatisfaction with the theory of the instincts as left by Freud. In 
following Fairbaim's important concepts on the relation of struc- 
ture and energy in psycho-analytic theory. Dr. Guntrip may seem 
to go too far in his low estimate of the value of instinct-theory for 
psychology. The work of the ethologists has not yet been assimi- 
lated by psycho-analysts, though its possible contribution to our 
understanding of the development of the person is beginning, e.g. 
in Bowlby's recent papers {International Journal of Psycho- 
Analysis). This work, in fact, supports some of Dr. Guntrip's con- 
tentions, e.g. that, despite innate potential response patterns, the 
eventual behavioural repertoire is constituted or structured by the 
individual's experience. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that the 
degree of flexibility in innate human potentials introduces qualita- 
tively different features, above all those described by the terms 
^internal objects' and 'inner worlds'. Dr. Guntrip has much to say 
of great interest on these concepts. 

The value of precise theoretical formulation cannot be ques- 
tioned. It is only as theory progresses that more pertinent questions 
can be asked and problems approached in ways that permit new 
developments. If I may foUow my illustrious editorial predecessor 
in the International Library, I predict that Dr. Guntrip's work to 
this end will prove extremely stimulating. No serious student of 
psycho-analysis will fail to get new ideas from the thoroughgoing 
way in which he considers current concepts. The views he puts 
forward on the nature of endopsychic structure, almost entirely 
those of Fairbaim, have obvious theoretical interest and their 
application to social relations can be readily appreciated. How far J 
they will affect clinical practice is difficult to assess. He ventures to 
suggest that they will eventually influence therapeutic technique. 
In this connection he quotes Winnicott and Balint, who have both 
suggested modifications in technique as a result of theoretical con- 
siderations which have elements in common with those of Fair- 
baim. It is, however, in their conclusions regarding technique that 


all of these psychoanalysts have met with least acceptance. In 
reaffirming Fairbaim's views, Guntrip stresses the role of the 
analyst as a good reliable person for the patient and the need for 
the latter to release his bad objects and his Ubidinal attachment 
to them. Here many analysts will feel they are dealing with state- 
ments which are as yet in too general a form to be useful. There 
is perhaps too much of an implication that the analyst's inter- 
pretations are given as something not central to his relationship 
with the patient. The manner of using the transference which the 
work of Mrs. Klein and her school has stimulated is certainly 
rooted in the understanding by the analyst of what is happening 
all the time in the relationship between the patient and himself. 
The analyst's interpretations are therefore his responses to what he 
thinks and feels the patient is wanting from him, consciously and 
unconsciously. In other words, it would be the view of many 
analysts, especially in Britain, that the most effective way to be a 
good reliable person for the patient and to release him from his 
ties to bad internal objects is by more accurate and more compre- 
hensive interpretations; to play other roles — e.g. nearer that of 
the parent who does not withhold positive interest — may readily 
interfere with the exposure within the analytic relationship of some 
of the most dreaded primitive relationships. 

New theoretical clarifications, however, do not always necessi- 
tate changes in the basic principles of technique. Such changes 
should follow only from long and patient work recorded as objec- 
tively as possible. Immediate practical effects may well be achieved 
by the views which Dr. Guntrip advances in this book without 
alteration of present technique. Most analysts will gain fresh in- 
sights into their patients' difficulties from the challenging con- 
sideration he gives to the nature of endopsychic activity and of 
human conflict. Their perceptions of the unconscious forces in the 
analytic relationship may be changed radically and they may thus 
be helped to interpret more accurately to their patients the nature 
of the forces at work within them. 


This book is not intended to be a history of psycho-analytical 
theory. In any complete form that would be a far larger under- 
taking. Many important aspects of theory here omitted would have 
called for inclusion, particularly in the case of Freud and Melanie 
Klein. I have attempted something different, something that I 
believe needs to be done at about this time, something that arises 
as a problem out of the very nature of science as hitherto under- 
stood, as soon as it comes to be applied to human beings. 

This involves making a historical survey, and I have sought to 
let the important writers speak for themselves. The justification 
for fairly frequent quotations and some lengthy ones must be 
found in this deliberate purpose. 

But such a survey would be mere mechanical hackwork, more 
or less complete recording, unless the writer felt he could trace 
the emergence of deeper understanding along certain definite lines. 

The close study of psycho-analysis over many years, against the 
background of philosophical, religious, literary and social studies, 
has bred in me the conviction that here at last, and here alone, 
scientific enquiry has come face to face with the intimate and fully 
'personal' life of man. This constitutes as big a test for science as 
for man. Science has to discover whether and how it can deal with 
the 'person', the 'unique individual', we will dare to say the 
'spiritual self' with all the motives, values, hopes, fears and pur- 
poses that constitute the real life of man, and make a purely 
'organic' approach to man inadequate. On the other hand, man 
has to face the most penetrating searchlight focussed upon his 
essential nature, and must find out how to adjust to the stripping 
off of his psychic defences and self-deceptions, built up to hide 
failures in development towards maturity, while the struggle to 
cope with living in spite of immaturity is carried on. 

This double challenge to both science and man, beginning some 
seventy-odd years ago, has begun to spread widely only in this 
present century. Its future effects are out of sight. But it is fraught 
with the most momentous issues for the final fate of mankind. If 
nuclear physics threatens us with the possibility of universal 


destruction, then genuine psychodynamic understanding, if only 
it be given time to work quietly, gives at least a realistic hope of 
new Ufe. No one supposes that the mass problem of mental ill- 
health can be dealt with by individual psychotherapy, but we 
may hope that in time a prof ounder understanding of man, leaven- 
ing all aspects of the life of the community and most of all those 
concerned with the treatment of children, may substitute preven- 
tion for cure. 

Science is the emotionally detached sftudy of the properties of 
'Objects' which are held to be accounted for when they can be 
classified according to their species and genus. This remains true 
even at the most advanced positions of physics where 'objects' are 
resolved into 'events'. Either way, science seeks to establish what 
phenomena have in common so that the isolated individual object 
or event can be grouped with its fellows and 'understood' accord- 
ing to what science means by understanding. This scientific ap- 
proach is as easily applicable to the human body as to any other 
body, and the medical sciences, beginning with anatomy, physi- 
ology and biochemistry, find no difficulty in adopting it. When 
science turned to the study of the 'mental life', as it was tradi- 
tionally called, the same approach was automatically made. This 
seemed easy in the case of animal psychology, mainly because of 
unquestioned emotional assumptions. 'Animals have no souls' ; 
'Animals are difTerent in kind from humans' : traditional preju- 
dices which are still very much alive. 'Animals don't feel as we 
do' and so their primitive kind of 'mental life' may be expected 
to yield to mechanistic scientific explanation. Physiological psy- 
chology grew up on the basis of neurological reflexes, simple and 
conditioned. Pavlov and J. B. Watson made the 'scientific ap- 

Psychology has moved far since those days. It is no longer so 
easy to regard the 'animal mind' in the above naive way, still less 
the human. Nevertheless, in more subtle ways, the struggle to 
equate 'scientific explanation' with the 'elimination of individual- 
ity' goes on, aiming to produce theories which are still in principle 
materialistic and mechanistic, even though the earlier crude 
materialism and mechauiism are outmoded. This has been the 
standard round which the modem battle rages for the capture and 
possession of the truth about man himself : for when science begins 
to treat man as an object of investigation, it somehow loses him 
as a person. 

Nowhere is this more evident than in the fields of academic psy- 
chology, psychiatry and some aspects of earlier psycho-analytic 
theory. TTie traditional scientific approach tends always towards 


an impersonal type of theory, and this is not often honestly ad- 
mitted to be an expression of a certain philosophical view of man, 
that the mind is the brain. A great deal of the drive in psychiatry 
for the discovery of physical treatments, and also the drive to work 
out a theory of therapy on the basis of 'reconditioning', is moti- 
vated as much by this underlying 'philosophy of man' as by the 
practical need to find methods of quick relief of symptoms. Such 
treatments also have the advantage of being less disturbing to the 
psychiatrist as an individual person than the attempt to treat the 
patient on a personal level, entering deeply and in a fully personal 
way into the heart of his disturbed personality. 

Academic psychology has developed, in its modem methods of 
personality testing for diagnostic purposes, a skilfully impersonal 
way of dealing with personality, by means of which, once more, 
human beings can be classified and categorized without anyone 
ever coming into intimate personal human rapport with the 
patient as a meaningful individual in his own right. In the field of 
psycho-anadysis, the conception of 'metapsychology' and the classic 
analytic technique in so far as it tended to impersonality belong to 
the same orientation. Meanwhile, theoretical trends and disguised 
philosophical prepossessions cannot alter facts, and reality forces 
itself on us. Thus it is noticeable that the central problem, how to 
understand and deal with human beings as 'individuals' and as 
'persons', has been steadily pushing to the front. In psycho- 
analytical theory and practice this has, it seems to me, become 
increasingly obvious. The terrific, if not altogether successful, 
struggle of Freud to transcend physiology and neurology and 
arrive at a true psychology, the widespread criticism of his psycho- 
biology by thinkers influenced by sociology, the criticism of 'in- 
stinct-theory' in both academic psychology and psycho-analysis, 
the development of psycho-analysis towards the analysis of per- 
sonality in more and more radically 'personal' terms, all add up 
to a challenging phenomenon in itself, a sign of the times. 

/ have taken this as my theme, to trace the way in which 
psycho-analysis has been in process of outgrowing its origins in a 
neuro physiological and psychobiological philosophy of man, using 
the instinct concept as the basis of theory, into a truly psycho- 
dynamic theory of the personality implying a philosophy of man 
that takes account of his reality as an individual person. At the 
same time this development forces us to question the traditional 
exclusion by science of the fact of individuality, the one fact that 
is ultimately inescapable in any realistic attempt to study and 
understand human beings. A human being can only be known as 
a living and highly individual, unique 'person'. Aspects of his total 


being can be reduced by analysis and abstraction to the level of 
classified phenomena, and that has its uses ; but always what he 
really is, is then missed. Psycho-analysis is, or should be, the special 
custodian of this truth in the field of science. On its theoretical 
side, psycho-analysis is the attempt to find out in what terms science 
can deal with the person in his life as an individual with other 
persons, for that is the problem that has now become inescapable. 

Thus I am consciously concerned to present a definite point of 
view. This leads me to observe that in psychology more than in 
any other study a writer's judgment is related to his own personal 
approach to the subject. This in turn arises out of the structure of 
his own personality and his experience of life. This fact is familiar 
to us in religious, philosophical and poHtical thinking, where the 
objective and the subjective most plainly interact. In science it has 
always been the tradition that thinking is purely objective. This 
is now realized to be less true than used to be taken for granted, 
but it is least of all true in psychology. Often, in reading psycho- 
analytic and psychiatric literature, and trying to form a judgment 
on its conclusions about human beings, I have wished I knew what 
sort of person the writer was. Dr. Clara Thompson, in her Preface 
to Psychoanalysis ; Evolution and Development, gives an aJl-too- 
brief statement of her personal approach and the influences that 
shaped it. It may not be out of place for me also to say how I 
came to the study of psycho-analysis. 

The most usual, if not the only approach, to psycho-analysis is 
through medicine, though Freud did not regard it as desirable that 
psycho-analysis should be monopolized by medicine. In truth, 
since it has developed into an ambitious though justified attempt 
to provide a total theory of human nature so far as its psycho- 
dynamic constitution is concerned, it cannot very well be limited 
to any one discipline. It is bound to attract the serious notice of 
members of all the professions — medical, social, educational, re-i 
ligious — which are concerned with the problems of human beings 
in their personal and communal living. Only so can fully compre- 
hensive research be maintained. 

My own approach was from the religious starting-point. I be- 
came early impressed with the fact that, whatever people achieved 
in life, so long as they were at cross purposes within themselves 
they appeared to find little genuine satisfaction. My quest for an 
answer was directed into the only relevant interest I was then 
familiar with, that of religion. I found there no resting-place 
either in theory or practice. Intellectual and emotional problems 
turned me from ^theological fundamentalism' to left-wing 'liberal 
modernism', but answers to my questions were not forthcoming. 


In the active Ministry I found that neither my theological and 
philosophical training, nor the devotional exercises of traditional 
worship, were sufficient to help those distressed individuals who 
brought their problems to me in private. I sensed hidden sources 
of trouble that I did not understand. I found no more help in this 
matter in the academic psychology of the type of McDougall and 
Spearman, which dominated my student days. But the lectures 
on psycho-analysis by J. G. Fliigel at University College, London, 
pointed the way for me to a practical approach to human nature. 
In course of time I was drawn into psychotherapy through Dr. 
H. Grichton-Miller, Dr. W. MacAdam (Professor of Medicine, 
Leeds, 1938-46) and Dr. H. V. Dicks (Professor of Psychiatry, 
Leeds, 1 946-8), in succession. 

Nevertheless, I found my earher studies in reUgion and phil- 
osophy were by no means irrelevant. I had been thoroughly 
trained in a ^personal relations' school of thought, not only in 
theology but in the philosophy of Professor J. Macmurray. Such 
books as J. Oman's Grace and Personality, Martin Buber's / and 
Thou and J. Macmurray's Interpreting the Universe, The Bound- 
aries of Science and Reason and Emotion had left too deep a mark 
for me to be able to approach the study of man in any other way 
than as a 'Person'. I could never be content with the limitations 
of Freud's theory in that respect, and was constantly searching 
for a genuine synthesis, based on the handling of clinical evidence, 
of psycho-analysis and the philosophy of the 'Person'. This could 
come about, not by an artificial attempt to 'fit them together' but 
only by the natural emergence of a fully psychodyamic theory 
of personality within psycho-analysis. Psycho-analysis would then 
have far more to offer to all other 'human studies'. I found what 
I was seeking when my attention was directed by Professor Dicks 
and the late Professor MacCalman to the work of Dr. W. R. D. 
Fairbaim of Edinburgh. I take this opportunity of expressing my 
deep indebtedness to him, both for his writings and for the per- 
sonal analysis I secured with him. I then had the experience which 
everyone must have had who first learned the theory and then had 
an analysis, namely of recognizing the difference between knowing 
something intellectually and knowing it in immediate experience 
and with that emotional insight that we refer to as 'getting the feel 
of it'. 

It may be well to guard against one misunderstanding. I would 
not wish it to be thought that I ignore 'the body* and throw the 
baby out with the bath-water. In this case the baby is the organic 
basis of personality, and the bath-water is the attempt to explain 
the functioning of the 'person' in sub-personal terms. That leads 


to confused thinking, not to clear understanding. I believe that the 
best progress towards total understanding will be made by re- 
searching diligentiy on all the various levels of abstraction repre- 
sented by the sciences that deal with man. Physiology, Biology, 
Neurology, Psychology, Sociology, with their sub-divisions, are 
all required but must each be pursued in their own appropriate 
terms. The physical is not illuminated by 'personal' terminology, 
nor the 'personal' by physical. The cobbler must stick to his last 
and it has only slowly become evident that the last of the psycho- 
analytical cobbler is 'the psychodynamics of man as a person'. 
In criticizing chapter vii. Dr. J. D. Sutherland writes : 

We all know how intractable the phenomena of the difficulties in 
personal relationships are and is it not this intractability that con- 
tinually draws people to the properties of the organism, and, in 
particular, to its central nervous system as a means of changing? I 
am sure you are right that the kind of phenomena we deal with 
need psychological theories for their proper advancement. . . . On 
the other hand, by looking at behaviour from without, the kind of 
'dynamic structures' that the ethologists are postulating . . . may well 
be extremely helpful to us. Thus, if it is true that the first sexual 
'experience' is indelibly 'imprinted' into this dynamic structure be- 
cause of the physical properties of this structure, we can then see 
why we are up against something virtually unchangeable. I do not 
mean that much of human behaviour can be explained in this simple 
way. ... I think my criticism probably adds up to the impression 
that by posing the dilemma too sharply because of your proper 
reasons, namely, to get psycho-analytic theory into the right terms, 
you almost convey the feeling that psycho-analysts should not be 
concerned with other data about the organism. (Personal Communi- 

To this I would reply (i) that the psychotherapist, faced with the 
problem of both urgent symptom relief and long-term personality 
change, must accept help from every quarter ; (2) he must not, 
however, simply 'hand over' his intractable problems to other dis- 
ciplines, because his ultimate goal is the maturity of the person- 
ality, something that can be understood only in personal terms 
and promoted by personal experiences. While parallel lines of 
investigation are pursued, the psycho-analyst's special task is to 
study the psychodynamics of human intractability to personality 
change. This problem is nowhere near exhaustively understood 
on the psychological level. Not till we are sure we know all there 
is to know about 'motivated' resistance to change can we afford to 


turn to physiology for other explanations. Further, there is the 
problem of whether psychotherapeutic technique allows of emo- 
tional experiences sufficiently powerful to produce basic change ; 
for the original experiences that produced the morbid patterns in 
the first place have often been of quite extreme intensity. What is 
important then is, not to ignore other lines of research, but to 
pursue 'psychodynamic science' to the uttermost. It is my hope 
that in the final section of this book I have been able to contribute 
something to this end. 

Part I 


Chapter I 


'History shows that scientific effort tends to flow along 
channels leading to discoveries which contemporary society con- 
sciously needs and is ready to pay for. It is no coincidence that 
methods for working out the longitudinal position of any point 
were simultaneously discovered by two or more scientists at a time 
when geographical exploration appeared Ukely to pay a dividend.' 
(The Social Sciences: A Case for their Greater Use.) It has often 
been maintained that scientific enquiry is motivated by a pure 
disinterested love of knowledge for its own sake. This notion of 
simple inquisitiveness divorced from practical needs is now recog- 
nized as a substitution of thinking for living. The idea of the 
'scholar' as a musty, eccentric bookworm who has lost all genuine 
contacts with real life must surely be restricted to very narrow 
circles to-day. Urgent needs light up the areas of our ignorance, 
and we must 'know' in order to 'Hve'. Schizoid detachment from 
the pressing emotional realities of human relationships may always 
play a part in the scientific attitude of mind, but is more likely 
to invalidate scientific thinking in psychology and sociology than 
it would do in mathematics and physics. 

Science, having explored the field of physical and biological 
phenomena, has, in the last hundred years, arrived on the territory 
of the specifically human. Man has turned the scientific search- 
light on himself, both on the individual and the community. The 
reason is one of dire practical necessity. To master our world 
without being able to manage ourselves creates the dangerous pos- 
sibility of a massive orgy of self-destruction involving the whole 
human race. We have arrived at an age when we do not now 
have wars but world-wars. These are not occasional episodes 
disturbing the continuity of peace, but rather the acute phases of 
a chronic state of 'cold war'. This has its minor local exacerbations 
in Korea, Malaya, Indo-China, Formosa, Middle-East regions, 
Tibet and in the non-stop propaganda battles and subversive 


political and economic plottings which are so characteristic of this 
age of geographical unity and human disunity. There is no mis- 
taking the profound anxiety which to-day motivates the creation 
of the Social Sciences. It is not now a search for 'discoveries which 
contemporary society consciously needs and is ready to pay for* 
because they are 'likely to pay a dividend'. It is rather a matter of 
whether we can make and utilize basic psychological and social 
discoveries fast enough for there to be anyone left to pay a dividend 
to, or indeed anything left to pay it with, after an atomic war. 

How widely this is felt may be seen from two quotations. Gins- 
berg, writing as a sociologist in Britain, says : 

Our control over inorganic nature infinitely surpasses our control 
over life, mind and society; and since the former type of control may 
be used for purposes of destruction, there is the danger that before 
mankind has acquired sufficient knowledge of the causes of social 
change, and sufficient moral wisdom to apply it aright, the whole 
social structure may be wrecked, and the work of organizing mankind 
have to be begun all over again. (1947, p. 33.) 

Franz Alexander, writing as a psycho-analyst in America, says : 

The discrepancy between man's technological mastery of nature 
and his ability to solve his social problems — both national and inter- 
national — has become more pronounced, and the need for advance- 
ment in the field of social science and psychology appears more im- 
perative than ever. . . . Men who are incapable of constructive social 
life utilize their scientific knowledge primarily to subjugate and ex- 
ploit their fellow men. . . . There is a desperate necessity for under- 
standing the fundamental principles of social life and of the economic 
structure, in order to adjust the individual to the new ways of living 
which natural and applied science have devised. (1952, pp. 13, 22, 27.) 

This study of developments in psycho-analytic theory is, then, no 
mere academic exercise. It aims to clarify an understanding of the 
problem of living together in co-operative fellowship and the 
practical realization of love. The urgency of the problem of therapy 
is a sign of our pressing need to pool our resources obtained by 
the study of man from all angles. As Brierley says : 'The need for 
more adequate co-operation among all sciences bearing direcdy 
on human life problems is urgent; isolationism can only render 
them, individually and collectively, less effective than the older 
established so-called natural sciences that have so profoundly 
altered our environmental conditions.' (1951, pp. 1 17-18.) 

Psychology with its primary orientation towards the individual, 
and Sociology with its primary orientation towards the group, are 


the centre and circumference of this scientific investigation of the 
problems of human living. They cannot fruitfully be pursued in 
isolation from each other. Thus we may not forget that psycho- 
analysis is at the heart of a very large field of enquiry. One of the 
best assured results of modem research is that individual and group 
mutually interpenetrate in such a way that any attempt to study 
cither in complete separation from the other would be quite un- 
real. Family life, so intensively investigated by psycho-analysis, 
brings this home forcibly. We do not have first of all an individual, 
fully formed and neat and complete in himself, and then a group 
set up by the bringing together of a number of these self-contained 
individuals. Rather, the group goes into the making and structure 
of the individual while, pari passu, individuals in their personal 
relationships are constituting the group. Individuals and groups 
are mutually constitutive in highly complex ways as is shown by 
the psychodynamic study of human object-relationships. 

Thus psychology and, in particular, psycho-analysis cannot be 
regarded simply as the intensive study of the isolated individual. 
While we shall not here be concerned primarily with the implica- 
tions of psychology and psycho-analysis for sociology, we shall be 
concerned with the steadily increasing impact of a broadly socio- 
logical orientation on the developing theory of the mental life of 
the individual resulting ultimately in the analysis of the individual 
unconscious itself in terms of human object-relationships. 

Chapter II 


The development of psychology in general, and of psycho- 
analysis in particular, reveals an increasing degree of sociological 
orientation. Hartmann writes : 'Many schools of psychology have 
completely disregarded the individual's social relationships. They 
speak of laws governing thought processes without taking into 
account the world to which thought refers : they speak of laws of 
aff ectivity, neglecting the objects of the emotions and the situations 
which provoked them. In other words, they do not take into ac- 
count the concrete objects in relation to which the behaviour 
occurred, nor the roots of the behaviour in concrete life situations. 
This is due to their studying the individual as if he were com- 
pletely isolated from the world of social phenomena. The 
phenomena of group psychology are, therefore, completely inac- 
cessible to this type of psychological approach. Such a separation 
of the individual from the world in which he lives is completely 
artificial.' {Psycho-analysis and Sociology, Lorand, 1948, pp. 

The need for psychology to take account, not only of the in- 
dividual and his 'mind', but also of his world, was responsible for 
the discarding of the old definition of psychology as 'the science 
of the mind' and the adoption of the definition of 'the science of 
behaviour'. A 'behaving' organism is an organism actively reacting 
to its environment, whereas a 'mind' could all too easily be re- 
garded as a self-contained system. 

This definition, however, is still not adequate to our purposes. 
'Behaviour' can be regarded as the behaviour of an organism 
whose nature is biologically fixed as a pattern of innate instinctive 
drives prior to its having any dealings with its environmental 
objects. We then get a purely reactive psychology, and the world 
of objects is not recognized to be constitutive of the personality of 
the individual ; object-relationships are not seen to enter deeply 
into the structure of the person. Objects become purely externa] 
entities in a psychological sense, to be simply 'reacted to' by an 


individual of fixed and fundamentally unmodifiable make-up. In 
spite of all variations, this 'instinct-theory' is the type of psychology 
we get when the orientation is more biological than personal, socio- 
logical and properly psychological. 
Hartmann says : 

Freud and psychoanalysis gave [psychology] a decisive change of 
direction. Surely, at the end of last century, few students would have 
anticipated that the basis for a psychology of relationships between 
human beings would have come from a study of the neuroses. As it 
actually occurred, through the new approach to the problem of 
neurosis, an approach completely foreign to the atmosphere of the 
psychological laboratory, the entire complexity of an individual's 
relations to his fellow men, as objects of love, hate, fear and rivalry, 
suddenly became the main focus of psychological interest, probably 
without Freud's having anticipated the direction which his work 
would take . . . the approach to this field was through pathology, 
and, beyond this, through the study of human instincts, their de- 
velopment, their transformations and their inhibitions. (Lorand, 
1948, p. 327.) 

This was a highly promising development, for social groups, 
both in their cohesion and disruption, must rest on 'the love, 
hate, fear and rivalry' of their component individuals. Neverthe- 
less, the classic Freudian theory, though it is the indispensable 
starting-point, does not prove, without modifications, to be as 
useful as we need for the understanding of cultural and sociological 
phenomena, or even of the deep inner life of the individual. While 
Freud hovered between a psychology of the organism and a psy- 
chology of the person, a theory of instincts and a theory of object- 
relations, his theory in to to remained fundamentally orientated to 
biology. Thus he makes character dependent on the organic 
maturing of the sexual instincts rather than dealing with sexual 
functioning as controlled by the extent to which character has 
matured in human relationships. Moreover, his radical subordina- 
tion of objects to the role of mere means to the gratification of 
instincts is unsatisfactory from a sociological and from a human 
point of view, since it treats of personal relationships on a sub- 
personal level. The same is true of his view that man is by nature 
narcissistic, non-altruistic and pleasure-seeking, not primarily 

Freud's theory was primarily an instinct-theory . The basic 
innate drives, hbidinal and aggressive, emerging out of their 
psychobiological matrix, the id, invade the ego and compel it to 
make use of objects as means to subjective instinctive gratifica- 


tion, the pleasure of organic, and therefore psychic, detensioning. 
The object has no intrinsic, but only utilitarian, value for the ego ; 
and the impulses towards the object are not really the ^o's own 
impulses, they are alien intruders from an impersonal id, on the 
surface of which the ego develops as a rather superficial 
phenomenon. We cannot deal constructively with human relar 
tionships with a biologically orientated theory of this type. A truly 
psychological theory must be an ego-theory, not an instinct-theory, 
or, rather, it must not separate ego and instincts in the way Freud 

The fatal shortcoming of all instinct-theories, from the personal 
and sociological point of view, is that they are bound to be mainly 
reactive theories. The object is simply ^reacted to' with a pre- 
existing instinctive impulse which, so to speak, lay in wait for it 
to pounce upon it. In such theories the role of the object in deter- 
mining the impulse is not allowed for. Ego and object do not 
mutually interpenetrate. This can give us only a psychology of 
'adaptation to environment* and 'exploitation of environmenf 
which is quite unable to deal with the complexity of interpersonal 
relationships. In The Ego and the Id Freud bc^an to transcend 
this limited type of theory. For sociological as for psycho-analytical 
purposes, we need a psychodynamic theory which shows how the 
ego not merely reacts to and adapts to its objects, but is also con- 
stituted by its object-relationships. Culture is internalized by the 
personality, yet that can be accounted for in terms of affectively 
toned ideas. It is more important to see that the environment of 
objects is mentally internalized by the personality. A dynamic 
theory of object-relationships is now needed, as Erich Fromm and 
Karen Homey recc^nized; but their work is more a reaction 
away from instinct-theory than a full psychodynamic object- 
relations theory. 

The idea that a personal object can be set up inside the ^o 
and become part of its structure was propounded by Freud him- 
self in his theory of the super-^o. Conscience is not a set of ideas, 
it is an ego in its own right, but it is a superior ego, a super-ego, 
imported from without; it is a psychic internalization of the 
authoritarian parent. Melanie Klein developed this idea of *an 
internal psychic object' in revolutionary ways, and Fairbaim has 
utilized the results to work out a full psychodynamic theory on 
the basis, not of instincts, but of object-relationships. 

We may quote him as saying that : Tn the earlier stages of 
psycho-analytical thought, the paramount importance of the ob- 
ject-relationship had not yet been sufficientiy realized.' (1952, 

P- 33-) 


As to the definition of psychology, Fairbaim writes : 'From the 
point of view which I have now come to adopt, psychology may be 
said to resolve itself into a study of the relationships of the in- 
dividual to his objects, whilst, in similar terms, psychopathology 
may be said to resolve itself more specifically into a study of the 
relationships of the ego to its internalized objects.' (1952, p. 60.) 
It is impossible to over-emphasize the importance of this for the 
whole field of the human sciences. A theory basing human nature 
on immutable instincts will make one kind of contribution to 
sociology. The newly developed 'object-relations' theory will make 
quite another type of contribution. Instinct-theory can deal with 
social problems only at the 'super-ego' level of discipline and con- 
trol, as is very apparent from the first three chapters of Freud's 
The Future of an Illusion. But, if human nature is determined by 
the early mental internalization of the environment and the repro- 
duction in the unconscious of a psychic version of our early 
external object-relations, it emerges that we live in two worlds, 
m outer environment and an inner environment. Our deeper 
amotions and impulses are then, not fixed instincts, but ego- 
reactions to personal objects in an inner world, surging up to com- 
plicate our reactions to our external objects in the outer world. 

Academic psychology has also moved steadily towards dealing, 
not with 'mind' or 'behaviour* simply, but with the human being 
viewed as a whole person. T. H. Pear writes : 'Psychologists, both 
here and in America, are often distinguished by the emphasis, 
theoretical and practical, which they place on one of two aims ; 
the discovery of general laws of mind, or the description and 
understanding of the unique, undivided personality.' (1948, p. 
160.) In 1937, G. W. Allport significantly chose as the title of his 
book. Personality. A Psychological Interpretation. In the Preface 
he wrote : 

As a rule, science regards the individual as a mere bothersome 
accident. Psychology, too, ordinarily treats him as something to be 
brushed aside so the main business of accounting for the uniformity 
of events can get under way. The result is that on all sides we see 
psychologists enthusiastically at work upon a somewhat shadowy 
portrait entitled 'the generalized human mind'. Though serving well 
a certain purpose, this portrait is not altogether satisfying to those 
who compare it with the living individual models from which it is 
drawn. It seems unreal and esoteric, devoid of locus, self-conscious- 
ness, and organic unity — all essential characteristics of the minds we 

With the intention of supplementing this abstract portrait by one 
that is more life-like, a new movement within psychological science 


has gradually grown up. It attempts to depict and account for the 
manifest individuality of mind. This new movement has come to be 
known ... as the psychology of personality. Especially within the past 
fifteen years has its progress been notable. (1949, p. vii.) 

This is a great advance on the attempt to reduce psychology to 
what is now called an impersonal 'process theory'. It does raise 
the fundamental issue of whether or not science can deal with the 
unique individual. If not, then there can be no real science of the 
'person', who is always an unique individual. Sullivan therefore 
excludes the consideration of unique individuality from his psy- 
chiatric theory of interpersonal relations. This problem, as we shall 
see, proves crucial for psycho-analytical theory, (cf. ch. VII, 
'Process Theory and Personal Theory'.) Macmurray maintains 
that the difficulty lies in the fact that philosophy has not yet solved 
the problem of 'the logical representation of the self', i.e. we have 
not yet evolved concepts and terms to represent personality with 
the same accuracy as for the 'thing' and the 'organism'. (1933, p. 
122.) This he regards as the emerging central problem of phil- 
osophy to-day, to be solved co-operatively as psychology provides 
the data and philosophy refines the concepts with which science 
needs to work. The inadequacy of the description of personality 
apart from its object-relations is allowed for in Fairbaim's defini- 
tion, already quoted, of psychology as the study of the relationships 
of the individual to his objects and psychopathology as the study 
of the relationships of the ego to its internal objects. 

Thus we may summarize the changing ways in which the aim 
of psychological science has been understood. First it was the 
science of the Mind as a largely self-enclosed system. Then it 
became the science of Behaviour or the reactions of the instinctive 
organism to the environment. To-day it is developing into the 
science of Personality and of Object-relationships, which means 
basically Human Relationships, and which shows how impulse 
and object, ego and environment, mutually condition each other 
and interpenetrate in their development and structure. The per- 
sonal object actually changes according to one's attitude to it. But 
in a human relationship each party is both ego and object, and 
each reacts to, and, because of the play of reaction, projection and 
introjection, enters into, the content of the other's personality. As 
Alexander says : 'The methods and principles of dynamic psy- 
chology created an entirely new field — the science of human rela- 
tionships.' (1952, p. 234. Present writer's italics.) 

The aim of psychodynamic theory is to explain the nature and 
functioning of the individual in the context of, and as he is himself \ 
fashioned by, his personal relationships. The aim of psycho- 


pathology is specifically to understand the disturbed, i.e. anti- 
social, functioning of human nature, man's aggression and in- 
ability to love and co-operate consistently, and his tendency to 
disrupt the socialized community life he so much needs. Criminal, 
delinquent, or generally unpleasant and aggressive behaviour, 
jexually compulsive or perverse behaviour, and psychoneurotic 
reactions, will, if examined in the light of an adequate psycho- 
dynamic theory, yield the most valuable data for the sociologist to 
apply to manifestations of group life as such. Psycho-analysis, 
beginning as a psychopathology pure and simple, has grown into 
a complete psychodynamic theory of human personality. 

Chapter III 


Singe we are here studying psychodynamic theory with a 
practical aim in view, namely its ultimate bearing on the problems 
of psychotherapy, it is necessary to consider the relationship of 
psycho-analysis not only to general psychology on the one hand, 
but also to general psychiatry on the other. This raises in an acute 
form the validity of the psychodynamic, and therewith the 
psycho-analytical, approach to human problems, since psychiatry 
has always leaned heavily on neurology and physiology, the ap- 
proach to the mind through the body. It is all the more necessary 
to consider this matter since Freud developed psycho-analysis out 
of his own prior physiological, neurological and biological stand- 
point : and psycho-analysis, in its inception, was deeply influenced 
by that standpoint. 

The attitude of psychiatrists to psycho-analysis is anything but 
uniform. Some welcome the light it throws on mental illness. Thus 
O'Connor writes : 

It must be conceded that, were it not for the stimulating and ener- 
gizing work of Freud and of those who have come after him, we 
might still be blundering along among the psychiatric catacombs of 
last century. Much of what Freud first propounded has undergone 
modification, both by himself and by some of his brilliant successors 
and equally brilliant secessionists : in this respect we find him in the 
illustrious company of scientists of all ages. Much of his psycho- 
analytic therapy and speculation has become so much a part of 
psychiatric materia medica that the identity of the originator is liable 
to become lost in a wealth of long-accepted concepts and hypotheses. 
(1948, p. 136.) 

Others are frankly hostile to it even when they have to accept 
many of its basic ideas. A recent textbook. Clinical Psychiatry by 
Mayer-Gross, Slater and Roth (1954), is a case in point. We make 
special reference to it here, since it forces on our attention the issue 
between the neurological and the psychodynamic approaches to 


psychiatric problems. It is characteristic of the peculiarly 'human' 
nature of the subject-matter in this field, that powerful emotional 
factors enter into the discussion of it. There is a clash of two op- 
posite approaches to psychiatric problems, organic and personal. 
This is not a purely objective scientific matter of the weighing of 
evidence and disinterested discussion. If it were, there would be 
no clash but simply two parallel lines of research, one starting 
from the physiopathological and the other from the psycho- 
pathological side. They would each be happy to respect the other, 
go as far as they can, and find out if and where they meet. But 
because the subject-matter of psychiatry concerns the most disturb- 
ing things in human life, such objectivity is extremely hard to 
achieve. In fact, the two approaches often clash because they so 
often characterize individuals of two different kinds of experience, 
education, point of view, temperament and personality type, and 
even philosophy of life. It also arises in no small degree from the 
extent to which investigators are prepared to have psychological 
insight into themselves. A purely neurological approach dispenses 
with such insight and is less disturbing than a psycho-analytical 

The emotional approach to psycho-analysis is all important. We 
have to distinguish between careful constructive criticism of the 
theory which is highly necessary, and rationalized emotional hos- 
tility which is suspect. Psycho-analysis is neither an universal 
panacea for all ills nor an irrational cult. It is a difficult, pains- 
taking attempt to understand what is going on in the human mind, 
based on what individual human beings are able to tell us about 
their thoughts, feelings and impulses. It has as much or as little 
success as the difficulty of the undertaking allows, but there appears 
to be no other way of going about this properly psychological 
enquiry, except abreaction under hypnosis or drugs. Unfor- 
tunately, these methods simplify the problem by eliminating half 
of it, namely the socially oriented ego which is the source of 
resistances and defences. The extreme difficulty of recovering the 
earliest repressed material may justify this in practice. But if we 
ivant to investigate the total problem of psychodynamics in the 
human person we must resort to the slow and patient method of 
psycho-analysis, even though, when it comes to therapy, it is not 
seldom more practical and better to use shorter and even purely 
physical methods to secure symptom-relief. Psychiatry could not 
possibly limit itself to psycho-analysis, but neither need it be, as 
is not seldom the case, hostile to it. 

If we turn to Mayer-Gross, Slater and Roth, we find that in 
fact they accept many of the basic concepts of Freud. In chapter i 


of Clinical Psychiatry there are five passages, on pages i6, 19, 21, 
22 and 24, in which they accept the unconscious, repression, the 
influence exerted by repressed drives and unconscious motives on 
present-day experience and behaviour, the Oedipus complex, the 
fact that the 'repressed' consists essentially of the object-relation- 
ships of our childhood to parents, and the super-ego as an auto- 
matic unconscious controlling function operating unreasonably 
and derived from early parental training. They remark that 'these 
concepts represented a revolutionary advance and it is in them 
that Freud's more lasting contribution to psychology can be seen. 
As a result of his work no psychiatrist could now content himself 
with superficial or rational sounding explanations of conduct.' 
(Op. cit., p. 19.) It is true they tone down their acceptances, for 
they present the super-ego mechanistically as 'a series of condi- 
tioned reflexes ' (p. 22). Furthermore, although they write : 

Until Freud's day the emotional attitudes of the infant and child 
were unexplored territory and in so far as they were thought of at 
all were submerged in sentiment. People were not prepared to see 
that the relations of parents and children could be governed by 
powerful emotions of a most primitive kind, 

yet they add 'the significance for adult life of these relations has 
been grossly exaggerated' (p. 21). In their words, 'people were not 
prepared to see' the ramifications of that discovery lest we be dis- 
turbed in our adult illusions about our emotional maturity. 

However, these authors sjjeak finally of 'the magnitude of 
Freud's achievement', and say that 'where previously there had 
been a complacent nescience and even humbug and wilful self- 
deception, Freud brought realism, clarity and a powerful tech- 
nique of investigating motivation' (p. 24). Yet on turning to their 
chapter on 'Neurotic Reactions', one finds that they do not them- 
selves make any effective use of what they accept. Their descrip- 
tions of Hysteria, Depression and Obsessional Neurosis are con- 
cerned solely with the conscious level, they leave the unconscious 
quite out of the picture, and little is added to the understanding 
of the psychic factors in the illnesses. Thus on Anorexia Nervosa 
they make the penetrating comment that 'anorexia is hardly so 
much a symptom as a guiding principle of life' (p. 139). The 
patient will not take food on principle. When they then say 'the 
patient has no desire for food [present writer's italics] of any kind,! 
and foods are regarded with repulsion', that requires explanation 
in terms of the guiding principle in life. Such explanation couldi 
come only from unconscious motivation and they do not give it.| 
An anorexia patient of mine dreamed of enormous meals going- 


on endlessly, and said, 'I can't make moderate demands on people 
so I don't make any at all'. That explains why, having longed for 
her husband all day, as soon as he came home she at once lost 
interest in him but became ravenously hungry; she would then 
get herself a meal and as soon as she sat down at once lose interest 
in the food. No such psycho-analytical enlightenment, which is 
strictly in line with their own comment, do they attempt. The un- 
conscious motivation is ignored. Must we conclude that, after 
all, they only accept what they do because they cannot at this late 
hour avoid it, and hasten to drop these disturbing lines of approach 
in practice lest they should open up the whole field of the psycho- 
dynamics of personal living ? The conditioned reflex is a less dis- 
turbing concept. 

When we turn to their criticisms of psycho-analysis their hostile 
bias is undisguised. They remark that Tn so far as Freud's ideas 
are well founded . . . they have been absorbed. There is very httle 
sign that further new fundamental contributions are to be ex- 
pected from members of this school' (p. 24). That is an old trick 
of depreciation and it is not accompanied by any evidence of 
awareness of the psycho-analytical developments we shall trace 
out in this book. In 1929 Professor Pillsbury, in his History of 
Psychology, wrote : 

Freud's doctrine ... is the center of a controversy between devout 
disciples and scoffing opponents. . . . Gradually its admitted practi- 
tioners are becoming fewer and fewer, and the ardour of those who 
were disciples is cooling. It stands as a strange episode in the history 
of psychology. (1929, pp. 267-8.) 

These writers repeat that kind of attempt to prejudice the issue. 
The passage of time has not dealt kindly with Pillsbury's rash 
prophecy and will probably deal similarly with this renewal of it. 
We need not deal specifically with their criticisms to the effect 
that Freud's theory is 'a crazy structure', 'a mythology' and 'a 
cult', and that 'it is popular with half-baked amateur psychologists, 
journalists, novelists and literary critics, but is in the main found 
antipathetic by neurologists, physicians and psychiatrists with any 
extensive experience' (p. 23). The tone of superiority in this state- 
ment does not commend it to scientific consideration, but it is 
important to note such so-called criticisms because they are 
evidence of the acute emotional ambivalence of these authors to 
psycho-analysis : When they say that 'Freud's superficially rational 
appeal, made under the cloak of science, is probably the most 
I effective form of faith-healing to-day' (p. 17) and add that 'en- 
! thusiasts rather than sceptics submit themselves to analysis, which 


is why an uncritical enthusiasm is rife' (p. 24), it is clear that they 
have entirely failed to take account of resistance to analysis, a 
concept which is fundamental to psycho-analytical theory ; and 
also of the anxiety and suffering involved in getting anywhere with 
analysis, which would soon weed out mere enthusiasts. Certainly 
every psycho-analyst found psycho-analysis 'antipathetic' to him- 
self when he was undergoing his own personal training analysis. 
In every case psycho-analysis only makes slow and painful head- 
way in practice, in the face of bitter resistance, and patients often 
break out in angry tirades against analysis when they are experi- 
encing a n^ative transference. One of my own patients dreamed 
that she was passing my rooms on top of a tram and, looking down, 
saw herself at the same time on the pavement going into my rooms 
and she thought, 'Look at that silly creature going in there', and 
she went by on the tram ; hardly an uncritical enthusiasm. If a 
hostile critic were tempted to agree with her dream, we would 
have to add that she ako felt 'a silly creature' because, though 
possessed of marked abiUty, she had at the age of thirty given up a 
very worthwhile job to return home in an anxiety-state. She suf- 
fered a conflict between strong independent tendencies and equally 
strong though disowned dependent needs towards parents; this 
whole conflict was transferred into her relation to her therapist 
and caused her to experience an intense resistance against her own 
need to seek help. This marked ambivalence must be taken into 
account when we find the organic and the psychodynamic ap- 
proaches to human problems being set in opposition. Yet we do 
not find hostile critics of psycho-analysis pausing to consider 
whether their antagonism may not be more an emotional resistance 
than a genuine scientific objection. 

This problem is so important because there is abundant evidence 
that the conflict between the neurological and psychodynamic 
points of view which is active in psychiatry to-day existed in Freud 
himself, and though he transcended it in large measure there seems 
reason to think that he never fully resolved it. Freud, of course, 
must have had powerful resistances to his own discoveries. This 
conflict is the starting-point of the development of psycho-analysis 
and left deep marks on Freud's own theory. Neo-Freudian de- 
velopments are very much concerned with the results. 

We shall take up the position that every study of human beings, 
from any aspect whatsoever, should be kept well subordinated to 
the basic fact that, unlike all other organisms, it is man's potenti- 
ality to become what we mean by a 'person', and his true destiny 
(whether fulfilled or not) is to mature an individual personality in 
the medium of personal relationships. One may study men from 


the physiological, biological, psychological, or again from medical, 
K)ciaJ or religious angles. But all these studies get out of focus 
unless controlled by the over-all understanding of what a human 
being is in his total nature. The development in medical thinking 
towards the idea that what is to be treated is not a disease entity 
but a patient who is a human person, is itself an expression of that 
Doint of view which dominates modem culture. Freeman writes 
in a review of this book : 'Man is more than a compound of 
genetics, biochemistry and the accidental experiences of life which 
interact and leave an imprint of varying intensity.' (1955, p. 196.) 

Freud's education and thinking for the first thirty-five years of 
lis life placed him on the same fundamental ground as Mayer- 
Gross, Slater and Roth, the ground of an organic rather than a 
tersonal point of view. Intellectually he in large measure fought 
lis way out and the pressure of his own discoveries pushed him 
into dealing with man as a 'person'. Yet was it to be expected that 
le could wholly emancipate himself from the intellectual stand- 
point of the first half of his life and of his cultural epoch ? There is 
nuch to show that he remained at heart a neurologist, a physio- 
ogist, a biologist, even a mechanist. In chapter V and VII we 
ihall look more closely into this conflict in Freud between neuro- 
ogy and psychology. Freud was too early, in the cultural milieu of 
Vienna prior to 1900, to be deeply influenced by the 'personal' 
mentation of modern culture. Mayer-Gross, Slater and Roth seem 
:o be out of touch with it. 

The real underlying difficulty these authors have about Freud is 
Jiat he did allow the pressure of clinical necessity to drive him 
Deyond the neurology in which he had already achieved eminence, 
o a truly psychodynamic study of human beings, even though at 
X)ttom he could never completely emotionally reconcile himself 
:o that. They, on the other hand, have not followed Freud's 
:ourageous example and while they cannot now (so great has been 
he impact of Freud's work) reject psychodynamic theory, they 
io not like it, and resent its being forced on them far more than 
Freud did.^ 

Competent observers who are outside medical, but not outside 
luman, interests, watch keenly the drama of this struggle that goes 
)n in psychiatry as much to-day as ever, between the organismic 
ind the personal or psychodynamic orientations. Professor L. W. 
jrensted of Oxford has written as follows : 

^ This tendency to exaggerate the importance of heredity and under- 
'alue both the psychological and physical aspects of environment in the 
levelopment of personality and mental illness is apparent throughout the 
vork.' (T. Freeman, op. cit., p. 195.) 


'Modern psychiatrists are much more scientists and much better 
equipped scientifically than the pioneers of thirty and forty years ago, 
but their diagnosis and treatment are apt to be less personal, and in 
the deepest sense less humane. This lowering of personal values is the 
ground for the grave suspicions with which many people regard psy- 
chiatry to-day. They are rooted in a deep and justifiable resentment, 
perhaps only half conscious, at the suggestion that they are anything 
less than persons, of full and individual human worth. To deperson- 
alize them at the very heart of their being is the final dishonour. It 
may be true that there are few psychiatrists who actually inflict this 
dishonour on their patients, but the fear and suspicion are there. It is 
perhaps the gravest issue that psychiatry has to face.' (Foreword to 
Guntrip, i957,p. 7.) ^ ^^ 

The starting-point of these three psychiatrists is severely medical, 
and that orientation is adequate to many of the problems they 
have to deal with in the total field of psychiatry. But they make it 
quite plain that they would prefer to find a neurological explana- 
tion of every problem if possible and not have to be drawn out 
into the disturbing field of the psychological and the social. They 
dislike what they call 'the subjectivity and the lack of precision in 
psychological data' (p. i). They state that : 'There is an immense 
body of evidence showing that in the major psychiatric disorders 
the specific factors in causation are those of a constitutional and 
physiopathological kind' (p. 4). They write : 'If psychiatry must 
concern itself principally with the study of mental illness, the pat- 
terns of behaviour studied in communities by sociology are not 
necessarily of immediate relevance. If a particular individual has 
a convulsion with loss of consciousness, which can be fully de- 
scribed and accounted for in terms of neurophysiology, then it 
is superfluous to attempt to describe and account for it in terms of 
the psychology of social relationships' (p. 3). But what if a problem 
arises that cannot be 'fully accounted for in terms of neurophysio- 
logy'. That seems to be an unwelcome fact for them. They reject 
the view of Lidz and Lidz that 'neurology is only one of several 
basic sciences for psychiatry', (p. 3) and they warn of the danger 
of 'psychiatry being divorced from medicine.' (p. 2). Certainly 
such a divorce would be a grave loss, but there is an equal if not 
greater danger in trying to reduce all human problems to neuro- 
physiological ones. 

The traditional psychiatric approach is one of primary emphasis 
on the organism ; the psychodynamic approach is that of primary 
emphasis on the person who has an organic but also other aspects. 
Mayer-Gross, Slater and Roth state explicitly that they seek to 
base psychiatry on the ground of the natural sciences. Psycho- 


neurosis, however, can arise in an individual with a normal brain 
md an odierwise healthy body, because he has had to cope with 
m abnormal traumatic environment. Since the incidence of 
neurotic personality disturbances is greater quantitatively than 
that of all other psychiatric disorders put together, it seems to be 
;elf-evident that the human sciences and above all psychodynamic 
studies have at least an equal claim with the natural sciences to be 
:onsidered basic for psychiatry. In theory their 'multi-dimensional 
approach' impHes that. In fact they show a marked one-sided bias 
in the matter, away from truly human studies. They write : 'the 
tiypothesis of an active repressing force is a gratuitous assumption' 

The fact is, however, that in a human bemg every psychic pro- 
cess is a personal activity, and that the neo-Freudian development 
of Freud's theory of the super-ego expresses the fact that the 
human environment does not remain a wholly external repressing 
force impinging on a unitary organism only from the outside : 
rather it comes to be psychically internalized in such a way as to 
Form the endopsychic structure of a personality. Thus, in the long 
run, the idtimate traumatic situations in which the individual 
suffers are no longer outside but are embedded in the personality 

That is the problem that is fundamental for psychodynamic 
theory to-day and which the work of Freud alone has brought to 
light. It cannot be causally explained by neurology but only by a 
personal psychology of human relationships. We may summarize 
the psychodynamic point of view before we proceed to trace its 
full elaboration in the development of psycho-analytical theory. 
What is the fundamental fact that remains a constant, whether 
overt or disguised, in all abnormally developed types of person- 
ality ? Is it not that so far as emotions are concerned such people 
live their outward life in terms of inner subjective factors. Their 
emotional relationships with their outer world are not objectively 
realistic. They may be intellectually objective in the matter of 
their correct appraisal of ways and means to their own ends, and 
in relation to matters that are of no private emotional significance 
to them. But the moment their personal needs and aims are in- 
volved they lose emotional objectivity and behave on the basis of 
inner mental situations. All patients live in an individual private 
mental world and to help them we have to discover its structure. 
I The bare existence of dreams and waking phantasies is sufficient 
to show the existence of an inner mental world separate from and 
Idivorced from outer reality. Tliis inner mental \vorld involves 
ihuman beings in two main psychopathological dangers, projec- 


tion and introversion; either projecting the inner scene into or 
forcing it on the outer one and then behaving in socially un- 
realistic ways ; or else withdrawing all feeling and interest, all flow 
of energy and impulse which naturally goes outwards to real 
objects, and turning it inwards on to phantasied objects to become 
detached and schizoid. 

How do these pathological states of mind arise? If this tendency 
to live one's effective emotional life much more inside oneself than 
in realistic touch with the world outside were only found in the 
constitutionally predisposed schizophrenic we would conclude that 
innate and organic factors were responsible. But that is not the 
case. It is found in varying degree in all types of case and iiMesser 
d^rees even in 'normal' people. In fact, this introverted develop- 
ment, leading to internalized objects, splitting of the ego and loss 
of realistic contact with the outer world, is the basic psychopatho- 
logical process. 

The child who finds his outer world frustrating turns inwards, 
and he turns his own mind into 'a place to Uve in' instead of using 
it as 'an active function to live with'. He starts doing his living in 
imagination, in phantasy, not in fact. He peoples his inner world 
with good and bad objects whom he hopes he can manipulate at 
will. He seeks what he wants inside in phantasied satisfactions. 
This is based on the capacity to hallucinate satisfactions so vividly 
(as in dreams) that emotionally they can substitute for a time for 
outer reality. Unfortunately, in this process, he sets up 'bad' as 
well as 'good' figures inside, and perpetuates disturbance. The 
inner world then becomes the enduring though repressed and im- 
conscious structure of the dynamic personality, which is filled with 
conflict and self-frustration. Over the top of this at the level of] 
consciousness, a superficial personality constructed mainly of social 
adjustments, and functioning without much real mature feeling, 
carries on the business of outer life in a way that is far more auto- 
matic than is usually recognized. Inside and unconsciously a 
hidden inner life is guarded against all intruders, and this is the 
source of resistance to analysis. Patients cling desperately to theirj 
secret inner world, even though it undermines them in their rej 
outer life. This is the essence of all personahty problems and it is 
in origin a psychodynamic and not a neurological problem^ 
Various forms of it may be partially relieved in many ways 
regards symptoms, by both physical and short-term pyschologic* 
treatments, but a radical solution cannot be arrived at except wit 
the aid of psycho-analysis. We must hope that progress in psych( 
analytical theory may be accompanied by fewer failures ii 

Chapter IV 


Psycho-analytical theory has been in a state of con- 
tinuous development from the beginning. The genius of its creator, 
Sigmund Freud, so dominated this process that during his lifetime 
theoretical developments were almost if not quite wholly deter- 
mined by himself. Here and there he adopts suggestions from some 
fellow- workers while their contributions were in the main elabora- 
tions and developments of new theories which he himself pro- 
pounded. In sober truth all the fundamental new ideas did come 
from Freud himself. 

Though we await the judgment of an impartial historian of 
psycho-analysis (if such there can be in matters so closely touching 
human emotions), it is probably not unfair to state that the works 
of men like Jung, Reich and Rank, each in different ways, ex- 
hibited ultimately a speculative bent rather than the predomin- 
antly scientific, analytical, clinical line of Freud, while Adler may 
be said to have raised the problem of ego-analysis prematurely 
and too superficially. It must be admitted that Freud's own specu- 
lative bent broke out in his theory of the death instinct. He him- 
self regarded it as 'far-fetched speculation' and expected readers 
to accept or reject it according to their own point of view. (1920, 
p. 27.) Nevertheless, he thereafter refers to the conclusions of this 
book as if they were now established facts. His speculations in the 
realm of the application of psycho-analysis to sociology have less 
bearing on basic matters of theory than have those in the book just 

It was, however, indisputably Freud's own work that established 
psycho-analysis as a coherent system. It is to be regretted that the 
unscientific atmosphere of 'orthodoxy versus heresy and deviation' 
I came to invest too much of the theoretical controversy in this 
ibroad field of psychodynamic investigation. Schools formed and 
their representatives seemed more eager to refute than to learn 
from one another, though no one can have a monopoly of insight, 


and exclusiveness cannot be afTorded in this field of enquiry. Few 
writers about psychodynamic theory quote (except to criticize) or 
seek to learn from workers outside their own school of thought. 
The result is a small group of psychodynamic theories differing in 
orientation among themselves, and developing in isolation from 
one another, with unorganized eclectics outside the schools pick- 
ing and choosing theories at will. An open field of free and un- 
fettered enquiry with rich and stimulating interchange of ideas on 
all sides would better suit a scientific discipline. 

Yet, even so, it may well be that this was the inevitable char- 
acter of the first phase of psychodynamic investigation. Each 
gifted pioneer had to follow his own insight in the early explora- 
tory stage. Had it been otherwise, it is certain that the clear-cut, 
distinctive features of Freud's own work would have been obscured 
and lost, to the great disadvantage of future workers. We must 
here take note of one of the most difficult aspects of scientific 
enquiry in the realm of psychological and particularly psycho- 
dynamic phenomena. In studying all other areas of reality the 
enquiring mind is dealing with something other than itself. True, 
our perceptions of 'objective' phenomena are by no means free 
from contamination by subjective factors, as the theory of 'apper- 
ception' shows. There are even emotional factors at work deter- 
mining the direction of interest of each individual investigator, and 
when a theory is evolved its creator cannot escape a personal at- 
tachment to the product of his own endeavour. Yet it is broadly 
true that the more impersonal the phenomena studied, as in mathe- 
matics, astronomy and physics, the more rehably 'objective' is the 
result. The nearer we approach to the scientific study of human 
living in general, as in sociology, the less is this true. But when the 
human mind turns back upon itself to probe the secrets of its own 
hidden emotional constitution — ^which is hidden because we have 
such good reasons for not knowing the truth about ourselves — then 
the influence of subjective factors in distorting objective investiga- 
tion can be all but overwhelming. 

Thus Brierley writes : 

The psycho-analytic situation can be standardized only to a degree 
far short of uniformity. It is said, not without justice, that in psycho- 
analytic research intensity of examination replaces extensity of 
sampling (S. Isaacs. 'Criteria for Interpretation', Int. J. Psycho-An., 
Vol. 20, p. 159, 1939), but intensity for examination is no safeguard 
against error due to subjective bias in the examiner. This may be 
corrected to some extent by comparing the results obtained by a 


number of different workers; pooling of clinical experience is an 
obvious and practicable, if incomplete, safeguard against errors due 
to individual bias. ( 1 95 1 , p. 9 1 •) 

Considering more specifically the problem of abstract thinking in 
general as well as in psychological enquiry, she says : 

Abstract thinking is no less subjectively determined than percep- 
tion and the risk that it will be dominated by unconscious precon- 
ceptions is, perhaps, even greater than in perceptual thinking. For 
this reason alone, constant reference to and checking of hypotheses 
by data is imperative. The form of any hypothesis is always influ- 
enced by unconscious determinants, since we can only apprehend 
things in ways permitted by the specific structure of our individual 
minds. The fact remains, however, that the objective truth of any 
hypothesis does not depend upon its subjective conditioning but upon 
its fitness to explain the facts it covers. Naturally, the more we become 
aware of the unconscious determinants of our own thinking the better 
chance we have of estimating how far our preferred conceptions are 
likely to correspond to the facts. We all have some coefficient of per- 
sonal error which we cannot eliminate, and it is much safer to assume 
that one's own coefficient of error is high rather than low, and posi- 
tively dangerous to forget that it exists. {Op. cit., p. 96.) 

These considerations are important in regard to the early history 
of psycho-analytic theory. This reads, at times, more like an 
account of the struggles in early Christian history of the orthodox 
to defend the true church against heretics and schismatics than an 
account of a scientific movement. Nor is this comparison irrele- 
vant, for religion, like psycho-analysis, is a search for a psycho- 
therapy for the emotional and personal ills of human beings even 
if the method of approach is different. Those who carry on the 
search by either path are as much in need of the cure, and as much 
influenced by their own wishes in that respect, as those to whom 
they may offer their findings. 

The aims of psychotherapy and of scientific research are 
different. Emotion enters into the one but must be rigidly ex- 
cluded, if that be possible, from the other; but there is no doubt 
that this has its bearing on theoretical divergences. Theologians 
have claimed too exclusively that their systems represent objective 
and indisputable truth, so that theological controversy early took 
the form of the establishment of an authentic revelation which 
; was only correctly interpreted by the authoritative, orthodox and 
recognized leaders of the Church ; who then sought to excom- 
municate heretics. The question as to how far theological differ- 


ences were really expressions of difTerent types of personality and 
of emotional stress and need among theologians, was not raised 
because thinkers felt that their own personal 'salvation' was in- 
volved in the truth of their views. 

This question was raised by psycho-analysis, though, it seems, 
chiefly in reference to those who deviated from the basic psycho- 
analytical theory. Not only is it clear that direct clashes of per- 
sonality caused some of the early schisms in the psycho-analytic 
movement, but also that the emergence of differing theoretical 
orientations was related to the differing personahties of the in- 
novators. Since it is truer in psycho-analytical science than in other 
branches of science that a (psychodynamic) theory must be related 
to the psychodynamic constitution of its originator, two different 
questions must be always considered in seeking to judge of the 
theory ; the question of motive and the question of truth. Though, 
by and large, Freud's contribution has stood the test of time and 
criticism far better than that of those who deviated from him, 
this holds good as much for Freud as for his rivals and for his 
frankly hostile opponents. With regard to the latter there is a 
difference between emotional hostility to psycho-analysis per se 
and in toto, and critical difference on particular points of theory. 
There is Uttle purpose in discussing psycho-analysis with those 
who reject it root and branch, since their opposition is almost 
wholly of an emotional and non-scientific order. Those who 
seriously criticize details of the theory have a right to be met with 
equally serious scientific discussion and critical study of their 
alternative views. Not that this rules out subjective factors on both 
sides ; and it seems to be involved in the nature of the case that 
this scientific discussion must include in the end an attempt to 
estimate the difficult matter of unconscious motivation of theory 
in both the orthodox view and any new view put forward. Prob- 
ably this need would emerge most clearly where discussion came 
up against a fundamental difference of outlook. This is particularly 
important with regard to theories of psychotherapy, but even on 
more abstract 'metapsychological' points it arises. It cannot 
escape notice that the propounder of the theory of a death instinct 
was all his life preoccupied with thoughts about death {vide E. 
Jones's biography of Freud). 

It would be absurd to maintain that neurotic factors in the 
analyst ipso facto invalidate his thinking and therapy. They may 
do and at times actually do, but they also provide the spur to 
psychodynamic discovery and the necessary basis of insight. If 
we can imagine a one hundred per cent mentally healthy person, 
he would be unlikely to feel any interest in such introverted direc- 


tions and have nothing in his own experience to work on in 
achieving insight into the strange phenomena of the internally 
disturbed person. Freud once said that if he met with an emotion 
in a patient that seemed to have no echo in his own experience, it 
gave him an uncanny feeling. The subjective factor of personal 
experience of psychic conflict is essential to its understanding, 
though certainly that alone will not suffice. The question is always 
relevant as to how far the thinker's personal conflicts facilitate or 
distort the scientific objectivity of his conclusions, for we are here 
trying to be objective about the wholly subjective. The classic 
example is Freud's self-analysis of his own Oedipus conflict as the 
basis of psycho-analytic insight and theory. One must have a 
neurosis, but much more than a neurosis to do that. 

Ernest Jones indicates some of the personal factors at work in 
the early schismatics, and just touches lightly on possible limita- 
tions in Freud's theories from the point of view of Freud's own 
personality. He courageously provides extensive information about 
Freud's neurosis, but is generally agreed to have played it down 
in estimating its persistence in his personality. A very difficult but 
necessary piece of work will need to be done some day, along the 
lines of Freud's own study of Leonardo da Vinci, in correlating 
Freud's theory with his own complex personality, as a contribution 
to the surer development of psycho-analytic theory. Of the early 
schismatics, the simplest case is that of Stekel. Though he had 
genuine gifts for understanding the unconscious and particularly 
symbolism, his personality was such that he did not have a scien- 
tific conscience and would invent data and evidence in a romantic 
and enthusiastic way. The scrupulously honest Freud could not 
work on that basis. 

Adler's ambitious and aggressive personality certainlyinfluenced 
his predilection for explaining ego-psychology in terms of a power- 
drive and ignoring the disconcerting deep unconscious. Jung's 
evident desire to play down the recognition of sexual phenomena 
(in part due to his Swiss culture and religion), and his flair for the 
speculative study of myth, legend and symboHsm, look like the 
opposite aspects of a basic p>ersonality trait, and they correlate with 
ihis somewhat abstract, schematic and not directly clinical theory, 
and his moralistic and educative approach to therapy. There seems 
[to be no likelihood that such personal factors can ever be negfigible 
lin either psycho-analytic theorists or their opponents, but they 
cannot be recognized in the case of critics only. The estimation of 
jtheir influence is essential to the evaluation of all psychodynamic 
jtheories. In no other branch of science is it so important to know 
jwhat sort of person the scientist is. This simply extends to the 


psychodynamic theorist a criterion already applied to the psycho- 

There will, no doubt, be different schools of psychodynamic 
theory for a long time, and they are more likely to learn from one 
another and converge towards a more unified theory if they are 
all frankly studied from the point of view, not only of logical con- 
sistency and basis in clinical evidence, but also their emotional 
foundations, Jones writes : 'Dissensions concerning psycho-analysis 
are even harder to resolve than those in other fields of science 
where it is not so easy to continue re-interpreting data in terms 
of some personal prejudice.' (1955, p. 145.) Coming closer to the 
root of the problem he states that : 'Investigation of the uncon- 
scious, which is a fair definition of psycho-analysis, can be carried 
out only by overcoming the "resistances" which ample experience 
has shown are displayed against such a procedure. . . . Only when 
the manifold resistances have been thoroughly worked through is 
the insight of a lasting nature.' {Op. cit.y p. 142.) 

But no one would claim that all resistances ever are worked 
through. Hence we are faced with fluctuations of insight, not only 
in patients but also in analysts. Jones says : 'All this is equally true 
for the analyst as for the patient. . . . When an analyst loses insight 
he had previously had, the recurring wave of resistance that caused 
the loss is apt to display itself in the form of pseudo-scientific ex- 
planations of the data before him, and is then dignified with the 
name of a "new theory".' {Op. cit., pp. 142-3.) That is un- 
doubtedly true, but it is a truth that could be misapplied to stifle 
all theoretical progress. Psycho-analysts have an exceptionally 
severe discipline to impose on themselves. They must be prepared 
to accept not only a psycho-analytical investigation of their per- 
sonality as a preparation for psychotherapy, but also a psycho- 
analytical investigation of their theories, both orthodox and in- 
novatory, as a basis for objective scientific thinking. A similar 
discipline is undoubtedly equally important for philosophers and 

One or two fixed points have already emerged. Any theory that 
seeks to ignore the power and ramifications of the sexual factor, to 
ignore the deep unconscious or to deny repression, is suspect as to 
its motivation. In general, it cannot be denied, without loss of true 
insight, that Freud did discover basic facts about our mental con- 
stitution and functioning, though many detailed aspects of his 
theories are open to criticism. The scientific status of the psycho- 
analytic method has been discussed by analysts themselves. 
Psycho-analysis in the stricter sense could not maintain a policy 
of self-containment without loss to itself, in spite of the fact that 


the requirement of a training analysis (so necessary to the mainten- 
ance of a high standard) tends in that direction. There are signs 
that the pressure of events, especially since the war, is forcing a 
wider and more open interchange of ideas. The training analysis 
will be less than adequate if it does not make for increased objec- 
tivity and open-mindedness in thinking. As Brierley says : 'The in- 
ability to tolerate one or other aspect of subjective reality is one of 
the most important factors responsible for secessions and the for- 
mation of derivative movements. Persuasion by the structure of 
one's own mind can be a strong incentive to turn a personal solu- 
tion into a new school.' ( 1 95 1 , p. 122.) 

Development, however, has gone on within the psycho-analytic 
movement more narrowly defined, and it has been felt necessary 
to state that theoretical progress cannot be halted with the death 
of Freud. We quote Brierley once more. 

Most scientific societies welcome deep and far-reaching differences 
of opinion among their members, because the occurrence of such 
differences is regarded as a sign of vitality and growth. . . . Psycho- 
analysts have two main reasons for attaching what may be unduly 
great importance to relative uniformity in theory. These reasons 
spring from the circumstance that we have three functions to per- 
form : research, therapy, and the training of intending practitioners. 
It is in relation to the two latter functions that we hanker after uni- 
formity and standardization. ... It is, however, very necessary for 
us to recognize that uniformity easily conduces to stasis, and that a 
static science is dead. Scientific truth can never be absolute because 
hypotheses are formulated in the light of contemporary knowledge. 
In consequence, as knowledge grows, older hypotheses become inade- 
quate and have to be revised, expanded or reformulated to contain 
newer facts. Freud did this himself, time after time, and if psycho- 
analysis is to continue to develop as a living science this process of 
recasting hypotheses and expanding theory must also continue. . . . 
To expect to conserve the letter of all Freud's statements, as a kind 
of 'Bible of Psycho-analysis' is to condemn psycho-analytic enquiry 
to stasis, and therefore psycho-analysis as a science to death. . . . But 
the main principles established by Freud will survive in so far as 
they do correspond with facts. The name of Freud will endure with 
the principles, but they will survive not because Freud established 
them, but because they are rooted in psychological facts. (1951, 
pp. 88-9.) 

It is significant that these words were written in a review of the 
work of Melanie Klein which, in the present writer's judgment, 
forms the basis of the most far-reaching of recent developments. 


In a broad sense an unconscious pattern of development as a 
process of a dialectical type can now be discerned. Recent develop- 
ments have not been haphazard and purely individualistic con- 
tributions. They have rather been determined by, and have arisen 
out of, that larger and all-embracing milieu of cultural change 
within which psycho-analysts, like all other investigators, must do 
their thinking. For example, the influence of sociology (a science 
much less developed in Freud's creative period than now) on 
American psycho-analytic thought is recognized. Fairbaim has 
referred to the influence of a changing cultural orientation in 
calling for a revision of basic psycho-analytical theory at those 
points where it was determined by the atomistic scientific outlook 
of Helmholtz, a view that now no longer dominates physics or 
science in general. Furthermore, in Freud's day, the concept of the 
'person' and of 'personality' had not assumed the importance in 
philosophical thinking that it came to do later, with far-reaching 
effects on all the human sciences. Culturally, to-day is the era of 
human personal relationships rather than of instincts ; the problem 
is, given innate endowment, how is that shaped by what goes on 
between people. 

In tracing out the broadly dialectical pattern of development in 
psycho-analytical theory we find some help (again, only in a broad 
way) in taking note of the differences between psycho-analytical 
thinking in different geographical areas. Bahnt, in 1937, wrote : 

To-day we have to deal with several theories, often contradicting 
one another. . . . These differences somehow seem to depend on 
geography in a way that one is justified in speaking of regional 
opinions. Such 'regional' opinions have been formed during the last 
years in London, in Vienna and in Budapest. (1949, p. 265.) 

This particular judgment referred to a specific theoretical issue. 
We can, however, recognize the same phenomenon over a larger 
area affecting total theoretical orientation. I shall suggest as a 
useful way of correlating recent developments in psycho-analytical 
theory the following dialectical scheme, which, however, is not 
intended to be pressed rigidly or regarded as a strictly chrono- 
logical development, but* used only as a guiding idea. 

1. Thesis. The original European psychohiology of Freud and his 
early co-workers from 1890 onwards, an 'instinct-theory' which was 
not modified by the later development in the 1920s of his tremend- 
ously important and more purely psychological ego-analysis. This 
may be referred to as the classic psycho-analytical teaching. 

2. Antithesis. The rise of a psychosociology in America, in the 


*culture-pattem' and 'character-analysis' theories of writers like 
Karen Homey, Erich Fromm, and H. S. Sullivan, from the 1930s. 

3. Synthesis. The elaboration in Great Britain of a different theo- 
retical orientation which, while not indifferent to sociological and 
biological considerations, developed the concepts of the internal 
object' and the 'inner psychic world' as parallel to external objects 
and the outer world; and so comes to correlate the internal and the 
external object-relationships in which the personality is involved. 
This development arises out of the work of Melanie Klein and others 
and is worked out in a systematic and comprehensive way by Fair- 
bairn. It, too, dates from the 1930s. 

The recent book by Clara Thompson entitled Psychoanalysis, 
Evolution and Development (1952) unfortunately deals only 
with phases one and two and quite ignores the British contribution 
which is in truth an exceedingly radical and important one. The 
same apparent unawareness of British contributions characterizes 
P. Mullahy's The Oedipus Myth. 

In the following chapters we shall make use of this scheme as 
a ground-plan to order our investigation. The results are sum- 
marized in chapter XVII, pp. 35 1 ff ., and some readers may find it 
useful to refer to that before proceeding further at this point. 

Part II 


L Thesis. Dynamic Psychobiology 
IL Antithesis. Dynamic Psychosociology 

in. Emerging Synthesis. TTie External-object and the Internal- 
object Worlds 

*Your surmise that after my departure my errors might be adored 
as holy relics amused me enormously, but I don't believe it. On 
the contrary, I think my followers will hasten to demolish as swiftiy 
as possible everything that is not safe and sound in what I leave 
behind.' (Freud : letter to Jung, Dec. 19th, 1909, from Sigmund 
Freud, vol. II, E. Jones, p. 495.) 


I. Thesis. Dynamic Psychobiology 

Chapter V 


I. Introduction 

T o show clearly that developing trends in psycho-analysis have 
moved towards an increasing emphasis on human relations, and 
therefore towards a potentially sociological and personal rather 
than a basically biological orientation, we must deal with the main 
stages in chronological order. This does not mean attempting a 
history of psycho-analysis in detail, but rather a survey of those 
major theoretical positions which have a particular bearing on 
this orientation. After the first acts in the creation of psycho- 
analysis, namely Breuer's treatment of an hysteric patient in 
1 880-1 , and Breuer and Freud's joint study, at Freud's instigation, 
from 1886 onwards culminating in their joint preliminary paper 
on Hysteria in 1893, Breuer fell away. Freud, having abandoned 
hypnosis, built up his technique of psycho-analysis and his theory 
of neurosis. Even at this early stage it emerged that this would 
ultimately overstep the borders of biological and purely medical 
concerns, since Freud discovered a social and moral factor at 
work in the creation of nervous illness. This was not so with Breuer. 
Freud writes that Breuer 

supposed that the pathogenic ideas (in hysteria) produced trau- 
matic effects because they arose during 'hypnoid states' in which 
mental functioning was subject to special limitations. The present 
writer rejected this explanation and inclined to the belief that an 
idea became pathogenic if its content was in opposition to the pre- 
dominant trend of the subject's mental life so that it invoked a 
'defence'. (1922, C.P.,V, p. 109.) 

This 'predominant trend' which produced 'repression' and per- 
petuated a state of unconscious psychic conflict was, naturally, the 
result of parental and social education and influence in moral 
ideals and rules and community demands, i.e. all that Freud meant 
by 'culture'. 


Nevertheless, for a long time Freud simply accepted without 
analysis this 'cultural factor' of conscience, and concentrated on 
the investigation of the instinctive or biological basis of human 
personality. (Cf. The Interpretation of Dreams, 1901.) Much 
later, about 1920, he turned his attention from 'the repressed' to 
'the repressing factor', set about the analysis of the ego, and 
evolved his theory of psychic structure, the id, ego and super-ego. 
This analysis of the total personality, which is of such great socio- 
logical significance, he worked out in a series of monographs : 
Beyond the Pleasure Principle , 1920 ; Group Psychology and the 
Analysis of the Ego^ 1921 ; The Ego and the Id, 1923 ; and In- 
hibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety , 1926. He had long before that 
come to consider the social bearing of his work in 1908 in the 
paper Civilized Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness, and 
in 19 1 3 in Totem and Taboo. But it is from 1920 onwards that 
we find psycho-analysis making major excursions into the field of 
social and cultural studies, and developing into a science of human 
relations. The small rivulet of the pre- 1920 period broadened into 
a river. Premature attempts to widen the applications of psycho- 
analysis before its inner growth forced these issues to the forefront 
led to the breakaways of Adler and Jung in 1 9 1 1 and 1 9 1 3. 

The two developments which have greater sociological im- 
portance than the work of Jung and Adler came after 1926 and 
derive from Freud's own later work. Karen Homey and Erich 
Fromm have, in a sense, taken up again the Adlerian 'deviation', 
viewing man largely from the social rather than from the deep 
psychogenetic viewpoint. Replacing 'instinct' by 'human rela- 
tions', and the analysis of the deep unconscious by the analysis of 
character-trends in the contemporary social setting, they have lost 
touch with the Freudian psychological depths. However, they owe 
far more to Freud than did Jung and Adler. A much more im- 
portant recent trend, which is a genuine development of, rather 
than a reaction against, Freud's work, is the 'object-relations' 
theories of Melanie Klein and W. R. D. Fairbaim. 

To show how these recent trends develop psycho-analysis in a 
more sociological and personal direction, as a fully psycho- 
dynamic theory of personality and personal relations, we must 
examine first the classic Freudian orthodoxy. We shall not be con- 
cerned with Freud's entire theory, but only with those elements 
which have an explicit bearing on this theme. Before we proceed 
to problems and critical considerations, it will be as well to state 
concisely the incontrovertible hard core of psychic fact discovered 
by Freud, an achievement which will place him for all time among 
the immortals of scientific discovery. Freud himself stated, 'The 


doctrine of repression is the foundation-stone on which the whole 
structure of psycho-analysis rests.' (19 14, C.P., I, p. 297.) This is 
what fundamentally distinguishes psycho-analysis from the social 
psychologies of Adler and the more modem 'culture-pattern' 

Repression carries with it the other basic phenomena which 
Freud lists in the same paper as resistance^ transference, infantile 
sexuality and the significance of dreams as a revelation of the un- 
conscious. It may be said briefly that resistance is the reverse side 
of repression, and accounts for the extreme difficulty of achieving 
self-knowledge and for the very slow and difficult progress made 
by all attempts at psychotherapy which aim not simply at con- 
scious readjustment but at fundamental personality change. In- 
fantile sexuality means more than Freud's assertion, a fact now' 
proven beyond all doubt, that the sexual factor in the human con- 
stitution is active from earliest infancy and does not come into 
being for the first time at puberty. It means further, as later re- 
search shows, that emotional difficulties in human relationships 
in the infancy period become quite peculiarly focussed in and on 
sexuality and are repressed in that form to constitute the hard 
core of the dynamic unconscious which breaks through during 
sleep in dreams. Transference is the unconscious reliving of the 
repressed life of infancy in present-day relationships, both in 
treatment and in real life. 

We must add to these essentials of Freud's discoveries, the 
Oedipus Complex. This is regarded as the hard core of all neurosis. 
Modem research has tended more and more to go back behind 
the Oedipal period of three to five years into the obscure problems 
of the first year. This involves also going back behind depressive 
to schizoid phenomena, and from the three-person Oedipal situa- 
tion to the earliest two-person mother-infant situation, the extreme 
importance of which is now established beyond question. If, how- 
ever, we look at the matter the other way round, it is apparent 
that the critical developmental problem in the earliest years is that 
of the transition from the potentially complete security of the two- 
person situation to the challenge and stimulus of the more fully 
'social' three-person situation. All the problems of the earlier stage 
ire carried forward into the later one, and the form in which the 
analyst comes upon neurosis in therapeutic investigation seems 
always at first to be the form in which it was finally shaped in 

Thus therapeutic analysis investigates the way in which the 
triangular jealousy situations of early life have become con- 
solidated in the structure of a personality, to be automatically 


relived in the neurotic disturbance of personal relationships in 
adult life, and in psychotherapeutic treatment, i.e. transference 
phenomena. • 

For Freud then, neurosis had two aspects, symptom-formation 
and character-structure manifested in disturbed human relation- 
ships. Symptoms must be understood in the light of infantile 
sexuality ; and character type with disturbed human relationships 
in the light of Oedipal problems. These two form one complex 
and indissoluble whole in the neurotic personality. 

One other piece of later psycho-analytic theory can hardly be 
omitted as part of the 'fundamentals', namely, some form of super- 
ego concept as part of a threefold theory of psychic structure. 
Here, Freud's original concepts of id, ego and super-ego are due 
for revision but they represent actual facts of mental organization 
and development, the theoretical formulation of which must 
advance to greater accuracy. These facts in question are those of 
the loss of internal integrity of the psyche through ego-differentia- 
tion and ego-splitting. It was Freud's far-reaching discovery that 
this comes about through the infant becoming divided against 
himself by means of a part of his psychic life coming to function 
as an inner replica of external hostile powers, felt to be hostile 
because they oppose the gratification of his primary needs in his 
own way. 

Thus the criterion of what is or is not psycho-analysis is the 
acceptance, as fundamental facts, as observable psychic pheno- 
mena rather than as theories, of repression, resistance, transfer- 
ence, dreams as a revelation of the unconscious, the centrality of 
the Oedipus problem in neurosis, and the ^super-ego\ It is inside 
this framework of facts that all questions of theoretical reformula- 
tion, and all problems of more extended research (as into the first 
year of life) — i.e. all questions of 'progress beyond Freud' — ^must 
be raised. 

2. Physiology and Psychology 

The great transition period in the development of psycho- 
analytical theory was 1920-6. A far-reaching reorientation began 
then, the full implications of which have only now come to be 
apparent. The change from a fundamentally biological to a 
primarily psychological and potentially sociological approach to 
the study of human beings may be more narrowly defined as a 
change from an 'organismic' to a 'personal' type of theory. Both 
are required, but it seems to be the special province of psycho- 
analysis to accept the findings of physiology and biology and pro 


ceed to a study of what goes on between human beings as develop- 
ing 'persons' and how that determines the shaping and functioning 
of personality, i.e. to produce a psychodynamic theory. 

At first the later orientation was simply superimposed on the 
earlier one. Much classical psycho-analytical theory betrays an 
uneasy tension between the two points of view. It is clear from 
Ernest Jones's Sigmund Freud: Life and Work, vol. i, that this 
rests upon the never fully resolved conflict in Freud himself 
between physiology and psychology referred to in chapter 3, 
between 'science' in the narrower and in the broader sense, and 
also between the seeker after intellectual and theoretical under- 
standing on the one hand and the doctor and therapist on the 
other. The publication of Freud's letters to Fliess, and Jones's 
authoritative and courageous study of Freud's early struggles and 
development, now put us in a position to understand far more of 
the way in which Freud's own personality conditioned his theory. 
Freud, evidently, was primarily a theoretician rather than a 
physician and therapist in his interests. Jones writes : 

To medicine itself he felt no direct attraction. ... I can recall as 
far back as in 19 10 his expressing the wish with a sigh that he could 
retire from medical practice and devote himself to the unravelling 
of cultural and historical problems — ultimately the great problem 
of how man came to be what he is — and yet the world has rightly 
greeted him as, among other things, a great physician. (1954, p. 30.) 

Jones quotes Freud as saying : 

Neither at that time, nor indeed in my later life, did I feel any 
particular predilection for the career of a physician. I was moved 
rather by a sort of curiosity, which was, however, directed more 
towards human concerns than towards natural objects. 

Here is another version : 

After forty years of medical activity, my self-knowledge tells me 
that I have never really been a doctor in the proper sense. ... I have 
no knowledge of having had in my early years any craving to help 
suffering humanity. ... In my youth I felt an overpowering need 
to understand something of the riddles of the world in which we live. 
(1954, pp. 30-2.) 

Jones comments that Freud's 'divine curiosity' focused on 'the 
riddles of human existence and origin' rather than on 'the nature 
of the whole universe' and was pursued with 'a remarkable 
capacity for abstract thought' and a powerful 'bent towards specu- 


lative abstractions' tempered by the rigorous discipline of 'scien- 
tific investigations'. {Op cit., p. 32.) 

Freud stated: 'I scarcely think, however, that my lack of 
genuine medical temperament has done much damage to my 
patients. For it is not greatly to the advantage of patients if their 
physician's therapeutic interest has too marked an emotional 
emphasis. They are best helped if he carries out his task coolly and 
so far as possible with precision.' (Jones, 1954, p. 32.) On the 
other hand, it may be equally true that Freud's lack of primary 
therapeutic interest was an unconsciously determined emotional 
attitude which influenced the development of his theory in the 
direction of an impersonal scientific orientation and thus obscured 
issues that are vital for psychotherapy because they are vital for 
a fully personal psychodynamic understanding. 

We now know that Freud underwent a most disturbing con- 
flict in his development from a physiological to a psychological 
point of view. That is not surprising considering that he faced 
this crisis in the 1880s and 1 890s. What is surprising is that he did 
make the transition and was the only scientist of his time to do so 
effectively. Had he failed we might still have been groping in the 
dark for the all-important clues to the understanding of man. It 
is too much to expect that even with his genius and courage he 
could make the transition completely and that the struggle should 
leave no scars on his theory. His ninety-page Project for a Scientific 
Psychology and the Fliess letters show what a determined attempt 
he made to base psychology on physiology. 

Jones writes : 

It has often been assumed that Freud's psychological theories date 
from his contact with Charcot or Breuer or even later. On the con- 
trary it can be shown that the principles on which he constructed his 
theories were those he had acquired as a medical student under 
Briicke's influence, [i.e. Helmholtzian physics and physiology.] The 
emancipation from this influence consisted not in renouncing the 
principles, hut in becoming able to apply them empirically to mental 
phenomena while dispensing with an anatomical basis. [Present 
writer's italics.] This cost him a severe struggle. . . . He was later, in 
his famous wish theory, to bring back into science the ideas of 
'purpose', 'intention' and 'aim' which had just been abolished from 
the universe. We know, however, that when Freud did bring them 
back he was able to reconcile them with the principles in which he 
had been brought up ; he never abandoned determinism for teleology. 

(1954, P- 50-) 


This is of such extreme importance for the critical appreciation 
of the eventual limitations of Freud's theory that we must pursue 
the matter further. Jones writes : 

Freud had always been greatly puzzled by the old problem of the 
relation between body and mind, and to begin with had with his 
strongly held Helmholtzian principles cherished the hope of estab- 
lishing a physiological basis for mental functioning. . . . During the 
years 1888-98 he passed through a severe struggle before he decided 
to relinquish the idea of correlating somatic and psychical activity. 
The dawn of the conflict in his mind in this matter may be perceived 
in his early theory of the anxiety neurosis . . . the bias of Freud's 
early training is evident. He was on the brink of deserting physiology 
and of enumerating the findings and theories of his clinical observa- 
tions in purely psychological language. But with what he called the 
'actual neuroses' he saw a chance of saving at least a section of 
psychopathology for a physiological explanation. ... A remark he 
made to me years later dates from this attitude. It was a half -serious 
prediction that in time to come it should be possible to cure hysteria 
[sic] by administering a chemical drug without any psychological 
treatment. On the other hand, he used to insist that one should 
explore psychology to its limits, while waiting patiently for the suit- 
able advance in biochemistry. (1954, pp. 283-5.) 

If ever such a prediction came true it could amount to no more 
than a physical means of making a complete break with the 
patient's past history as enshrined in the character and structure 
of his personahty. It would be a physical method of making re- 
pression and the spUtting of the personality permanent, of destroy- 
ing the continuous development of the patient's life as a person 
by the forcible suppression of (as distinct from emotional maturing 
beyond) the influence on him of the most significant personal re- 
lationships of his past. Since the real cure of neurosis is by a pro- 
cess of psychological maturing as a person, a process which can 
be achieved only by living through new experiences in the medium 
of personal relationships, it is clear that the hoped-for drug-cure 
would achieve a serious diminution of the integrity of the patient 
as a person. It would be the answer to the hysteric's prayer for 
the conversion of all personal problems into bodily ones, and 
would be the supreme escape from insight and true self-know- 

Freud's thinking, however, was not basically carried on in terms 
of personal categories, and this limited even his phenomenal in- 
sight, and exercised an important determining effect on the shap- 


ing and emphasis of his theories. Jones writes concerning sexual 
libido : 

Is Libido a mental or physical concept in its origin ? So here again 
might be found a clue to the riddle of the relation of body and mind, 
of transforming psychology into a biological or even physiological 
discipline. [Present writer's italics.] And it was this aspect of his 
discovery that really interested Freud. (1954, p. 299.) 

Jones again comments : 

It may be that Freud's dissatisfaction with the theoretical basis of 
the concept of 'repression' sprang from his old wish to unite physio- 
logical and psychological conceptions. (1954, p. 309.) 

Finally Jones remarks : \ 

It is plain that there was for Freud a security in knowledge of the 
anatomy and physiology of the nervous system. At the height of his 
anxious heart illness ... he wrote (May 6, 1894), *In the simimer I 
hope to return to my old pursuit and do a little anatomy; after all, 
that is the only satisfying thing'. It was 'scientific', assured and a 
necessary check on 'speculation'. This was needed more than ever 
when he 'found himself studying mental processes', and for years he 
cherished the hope of amalgamating the two fields. Here surely 
Fliess could help him. For instance . . . 'Perhaps I shall find in you 
the foundation on which I can begin to build a physiological support 
and cease to explain things psychologically.' (June 30, 1896.) It was a 
long time before Freud brought himself to dispense with the physio- 
logical principles of his youth. In a sense he never did entirely . . . 
a good deal of his later psychology was modelled on them. [Present 
writer's italics.] (1954, pp. 329.) 

When Freud did at last free himself from the effort to base 
psychology directly on physiology, he continued to base it on the 
characteristic pattern of physiological thinking, and never really 
grasped the fact that as compared with physical phenomena, per- 
sonal phenomena require a completely new set of concepts for 
their description and understanding. Psychodynamic theory is an 
independent discipline whose subject-matter is the personal 
motivated life of human beings in their mutual relationships. Any 
attempt to construct such a psychological science on the pattern 
of physiological thinking involves a depersonalization and falsi- 
fication of the subject-matter. 

The problem of the nature of psycho-analytic terminology is 
discussed by Ernst Kris in his Introduction to the Fliess letters. 


He quotes from a draft by Freud for the joint study in Hysteria 
with Breuer. 

In this Freud put forward the proposition that 'the nervous system 
endeavours to keep constant something in its functional condition 
that may be described as the sum of "excitation".' . . . This theoretical 
assumption, borrowed from the world of physics . . . led eventually 
to theories about the regulating mechanism of the psyche which 
belong to the fundamental assumptions of psycho-analysis. . . . (1954, 
pp. 21-2.) 

In those years the dominant idea in Freud's mind was to make 
physiological changes and the physically measurable the basis of all 
psychological discussion; in other words his aim was the strict ap- 
plication of ideas derived from Helmholtz and Briicke. {Op. cit., 
p. 25.) 

Not till after his self-analysis, when he was able completely to 
fuse the dynamic and genetic points of view, did Freud succeed in 
establishing the distance between the physiological and psycho- 
logical approaches. {Op. cit., p. 44.) 

But in what sense did Freud establish a distance between 
physiology and psychology. Kris has already pointed out that the 
theory of the regulating mechanism of the psyche was based on 
the physiological concept of keeping constant the sum of excitation 
in the nervous system. Freud's metapsychology with its mental 
apparatus, defence 'mechanisms', and dynamic, topographic and 
economic modes of description, etc., is steeped in the impersonal 
physiological pattern of thinking. The assumption was that 
'human science' must follow exactly the thought-forms of 'natural 
I It is true that Kris states that : 

I Freud's self-analysis, which opened the way to understanding of 
[the conflicts of early childhood, brought about a shift in his interests. 
Insights into the conditions in which individual conflict arose in the 
course of the interaction between the child and its environment — in 
other words the intervention of the social aspect [present writer's 
italics] — ^meant that the need to explain psychological processes by 
immediate physiological factors had lost its urgency. {Op. cit., p. 35.) 

But he goes on to say that : 

Freud subsequently repeatedly spoke of the connection between 
psychological and biochemical processes as a field still awaiting ex- 
ploration, and always emphasized that the terminology of psycho- 
analysis was provisional, valid only until it could be replaced by 


physiological terminology. . . . The result was that in studying the 
structure of the psychical apparatus ... it was possible to preserve 
the connection between the physiological and psychological ap- 
proaches without hampering psycho-analysis by the closeness of the 
connection. (1954, p. 45.) 

The distance, evidently, between physiology and psychology is 
more apparent than real. It simply means that Freud no longer 
sought to correlate in detail psychic processes and the anatomy 
and physiology of the brain and nervous system. His psychology 
is tied, however, to impersonal physiological modes of conceptual- 
ization and no genuinely new type of psychological thinking was 
evolved adequate to psychodynamics as a new and independent 
discipline in its own right until Freud made his analysis of the ego. 
It was a psychology of the physiological organism and its symp- 
toms, not of the 'person' ; it discards 'physiological factors' but not 
'physiological thought-forms'. It is this severe Hmitation that has 
made the development of 'object-relations theory' necessary. 

Kris states that 

some observers have gained the impression that the fundamental 
principles of psycho-analysis must be out-of-date because a good 
deal of its terminology derives from the scientific terminology of the 
eighties and nineties of last century. The fact is not in dispute. . . . 
But the terms thus taken over into psycho-analysis have acquired 
new meanings which have often little to do with their original mean- 
ings. . . . The question of the origin of the terminology and funda- 
mental assumptions of psycho-analysis is therefore of only historical 
interest; it has nothing whatever to do with the question of the value 
of those assumptions and that terminology for psycho-analysis as a 
science. ( 1 954, pp. 46-7.) 

That, however, fails to grasp the serious nature of the funda- 
mental issue at stake. It is plain that while Freud gave up the 
attempt to convert psychology into physiology, he never gave up 
the hope that one day that would be accomplished, and he never 
fully emancipated himself from the modes of thinking and con- 
ceptualization, and the general scientific orientation characteristic 
of his early physiological training. The result is that, while his 
cHnical discoveries were pushing him in the direction of the study 
of personality and of personal relationships per se, he retained the 
modes of conceptualization with which he was familiar. Thus, 
though he initiated and provided most of the materials for a new 
science of psychodymimcs as a discipline in its own right, a 'study 
of personality', irreducible to any other discipline, his own con- 


:lusions and speculations tended to be couched in metapsycho- 
logical rather than in personal terms. At this stage, he replaced 
Dhysiology by psychobiology and retained the mode of thought 
characteristic of the natural sciences. His later concept of the 
3Uf>er-ego and revised view of anxiety oj>ened other possibilities. 

3. Psychobiology 

Freud gave us in the first place a psychobiology of man as an 
>rganism, not a psychosociology of man as a person. The out- 
standing fact in Freud's application of his theory to both the 
Dsychotherapy of the individual and to social problems is that he 
operated with an instinct-theory which has a heavy weighting in 
the direction of biology and physiology. In so far as this was due 
to his practical preoccupation with the medical problem of 
neurosis, it led him to the vievv^ that civilization was a menace to 
mental health, and that the problem of neurosis was that of the 
conflict between instincts and culture. This point of view is not so 
illuminating when we deal with human relations as it at first 
seemed in dealing with physical symptoms. It arose out of his 
attempt, studied in the last section, to cast psycho-analysis into a 
rigidly scientific theoretical form which led him to de-personalize 
man and treat the living human being as a 'psychic apparatus' 
Nhich. could be functionally analysed 'metapsychologically' into 
impersonal psychic processes and mechanisms concerned with the 
quantitative regulation of instinctive tensions. The 'person' is lost 
in his processes. As Freud saw the matter, man has a given in- 
stinctive constitution biochemically laid down, and the social 
problem is how to dispose of man's innate instinctive drives by 
means of release, repression or sublimation. From this he evolved 
a theory of the general nature of human relations, group psy- 
chology and culture. 

{a) Instincts. Freud has permanently enriched our understand- 
ing of human nature and created de novo out of the study of 
psychoneurosis the scientific study of the intimate secret inner life 
3f human beings. His discoveries relating to the psychosexuality 
of childhood, the emotional-cum-sexual conflicts arising for the 
child in the Oedipal or family-group situation, leading from con- 
iscious conflicts to repression and unconscious endopsychic conflict 
which not only involves the personality in states of acute unhappi- 
ness and frustration but also the body in states of tension, dysfunc- 
tion and illness — all this is to-day accepted. It has revolutionized 
pur approach to man and his problems, and initiated a new era 
|not merely for the treatment of psychic illness, but for child care, 


the understanding of psychosocial tensions and the interpretation 
of the human needs and anxieties that motivate art and religion. 
It forces on us the reconsideration of all the traditional cultural 
answers to human problems, and is ultimately an indispensable 
pre-requisite for an adequate philosophy of himian existence. To 
the present writer the work of Freud seems to be the most im- 
portant of all the scientific developments of the last seventy years 
in its ultimate ramifications. All this, however, rested on a theory 
of human instincts. 

The general development of Freud's instinct theory is well 
known. It passed through three stages. First, instincts of self- 
preservation and race preservation, of hunger and sex, were sug- 
gested, the former being regarded as ego-instincts and the latter 
as belonging to the primary unconscious. With the theory of nar- 
cissism, Freud recognized libidinal or sexual instincts in the ego ; 
and he finally determined on the dualism of libido and aggression 
in the form of Life instincts and Death instincts. These libidinal 
and destructive drives were both innate, operated prior to experi- 
ence, and were at perpetual warfare in the organism. Aggression 
had nothing originally to do with frustration and operated 
primarily within the organism working towards its destruction. 
What we know practically and clinically as aggression was the 
extraversion of this original self-destructive innate drive, its turn- 
ing outwards against objects in the interests of self-preservation. 
This theory means that the basic conflict within human nature is 
ultimately in'cducible and its final outcome in the victory of the 
destructive drive is staved off for a time only by compromises in 
which the two opposite drives coalesce, as in sadism and maso- 
chism, or else are both turned upyon objects as in ambivalence, a 
problem which is then practically solved for the time being 
through keeping the two drives apart by choosing different objects 
for love and hate. 

The limitations of Freud's instinct-theory are most clearly re- 
vealed when it is examined in the setting of sociological investi- 
gation. By 1 908 Freud was ready to go beyond individual psycho- 
therapy, and with his paper on ' "Civilized" Sexual Morality and 
Modem Nervousness' (C.P., II, pp. 76-99) he entered the socio- 
logical field. It illustrates a view of instinct from which he never 
really departed. The impulses of sex and aggression are dangerous 
innate forces which operate without regard to social necessities and 
moral values, and the ego must defend itself against them at all 
costs. Proceeding on the view of some physicians that nervous 
disorders were a result of the strains imposed on the individual by 
the pace, demands and overstimulation of modern civilized life, 


and accepting the view that neuroses were increasing, he singled 
out, as the chief etiological factor, the undue suppression of the 
sex instinct brought about by our sexual morality. The neuroses 
'originate in the sexual needs of unsatisfied people. . . . We must 
regard all factors which operate injuriously upon the sexual life 
and suppress its activity or distort its aims as likewise pathological 
factors in the psychoneuroses.' {Op, cit., p. 81.) The paper power- 
fully called attention to facts which needed to be faced. More- 
over here Freud outlined plainly his conception of the psychology 
of civilized social life. 
j fie writes : 

I Our civilization is, generally speaking, founded on the suppression 
pf instincts. Each individual has contributed some renunciation of 
this sense of dominating power, and the aggressive and vindictive 
tendency of his personality. 

But sex as well as aggression comes into this scheme. 

The sexual instinct is probably more strongly developed in man 
that in most of the higher animals ; it is certainly more constant, since, 
it has almost entirely overcome the periodicity belonging to it in 
animals. It places an extraordinary amount of energy at the dis- 
jposal of 'cultural' activities 

Ibecause of its 

lability to displace its aim without materially losing in intensity. This 
lability to exchange the originally sexual aim for another which is no 
[longer sexual but is psychically related, is called the capacity for 
[sublimation. {Ibid.^ p. 82.) 

Thus civilization, culture and social life generally, arise from 
jthe suppression of the instincts of aggression and sex, and the 
diversion of their energy to non-sexual ends. (Aggression was 
regarded by Freud as a specific instinct from 1920.) Freud in- 
sisted on instinct as a fixed constitutional 'quantity of drive' 
always pressing for outlet. He says : 

The original strength of the sexual instinct probably differs in 
(each individual; certainly the capacity for sublimation is variable. 
IWe imagine that the original constitution pre-eminently decided 
jhow large a part of the sexual impulse of each individual can be 
[sublimated and made use of. 

1 The fate of those persons who differ constitutionally from their 
jfellows depends on whether they are endowed with comparatively 
stronger or weaker sexual impulses in an absolute sense. 


The task of mastering such a mighty inpulse as the sexual instinct 
is one which may well absorb all the energies of a human being. 
[Present writer's italics.] Mastery through sublimation, diverting the 
sexual energy away from its sexual goal to higher cultural aims, 
succeeds with a minority, and with them only intermittently ... of 
the others, most become neurotic or otherwise come to grief. {Ibid,, 
pp. 83, 85, 88.) 

Granting the correctness of this theory of biochemically deter- 
mined instinctive drives possessing a fixed and absolute quantity 
of energy, Freud's conclusions no doubt follow quite logically. 
(i) 'The energies available for "cultural" development are thus in 
great part won through suppression ... of sexual excitation.' [Op. 
cit., p. 84.) (2) This process of sublimation, nevertheless, has its 
limitations. 'To extend this process of displacement illimitably is, 
however, certainly no more possible than with the transmutation 
of heat into mechanical power in the case of machines.' {Op. cit., 
p. 83.) We see how Freud falls back on a purely mechanistic, 
quantitative, theory of motivation. 'Experience teaches that for 
most j>eople there is a limit beyond which their constitution cannot 
comply with the demands of civilization. All who wish to reach a 
higher standard than their constitution will allow, fall victims to 
neurosis.' {Op. cit., p. 86.) (3) The result of this demand, yet 
limited capacity, for sublimation, as uncompromisingly stated by 
Freud, is the production of either criminals or neurotics. 

The man who in consequence of his unyielding nature cannot 
comply with the required suppression of his instincts, becomes a 
criminal, an outlaw, unless his social position or striking abilities 
enable him to hold his own as a great man, a 'hero'. Neurotics are 
that class of people, naturally rebellious, with whom the pressure of 
cultural demands succeeds only in an apparent suppression of in- 
stincts, one which becomes ever less and less eflfective. 


it is now easy to predict the result which will ensue if sexual freedom 
is still further circumscribed, and the standard demanded by civil- 
ization is raised to the level . . . which taboos every sexual activity 
other than that in legitimate matrimony. Under these conditions the 
number of strong natures who openly rebel will be immensely in- 
creased ; and likewise the number of weaker natures who take refuge 
in neurosis owing to their conflict between the double pressure from 
the influences of civilization and from their own rebellious constitu- 
tions. {Ibid., pp. 82, 86, 87.) 


(4) Freud's practical conclusion is that we must sacrifice 'perfec- 
tion' in order to maintain the 'possible', and must relax the 
stringency of our sexual morality : a view which he did not him- 
self put into effect in his own exemplary marital life. 

We have here a full scale social psychology, or rather a psycho- 
biological theory of culture and civilization. It can be contro- 
verted only if the fundamental premise of instinct-theory is wrong. 
Those who see reason for believing that the diagnosis on the basis 
of this conception of instinct is erroneous will certainly feel that 
Freud is betrayed into some premature, rash and socially dan- 
gerous generalizations. His position differs little from that of 
Nietzsche for whom the possible alternatives were the superman 
who is above morality and simply gratifies his instincts because he 
is strong and no one can stop him, and the crucified Christian with 
his slave-morality of self-sacrifice and acceptance of suffering. The 
theory begs the whole question as to whether man is neurotic be- 
cause he is instinctively anti-social, or whether he is anti-social 
because he is neurotic : or, to put it differently, whether crimin- 
ality and neurosis are expressions of natural and vigorous instincts, 
or whether they are due to early emotional trauma and subsequent 
immaturity of development. 

Freud is landed in the dilemma that the denial of instinct is 
necessary for culture and civilization, whilst the gratification of 
instinct and the relaxation of culture is necessary for health. This 
pessimistic conclusion should arouse our suspicions. Social life, 
on this view, can never be any other than unending warfare 
between instinct and morality, the needs of the individual and 
the demands of the group, or, in another form, the flesh and the 
spirit. Civilization, culture and social life would have no real roots 
in the inner nature of the individual who, apparently, is not 
formed for society in spite of the fact that on other grounds he 
needs it. They are simply matters of expediency imposed by ex- 
ternal force and authority. One is reminded of St. Paul's view 
of the unending conflict between 'the law of the mind' and 'the 
law of the members', in which 'the law of the mind' is the external 
authority of God, just as with Freud the law of morality is the 
external authority of the social group. Naturally, if this instinct 
theory, which is the basis of the whole line of reasoning, were true, 
then Freud would be simply calling our attention to facts and 
we would have to make the best we could of the situation. 

That this theory of the relation between human nature and 
society must be given careful and critical examination, is clear 
from the fact that it still forms the basis of much orthodox psycho- 
analytical social theory. In a book of essays written as a Festschrift 


in honour of Geza Roheim's sixtieth birthday, entitled Psycho- 
analysis and Culture (1951), we may find up-to-date psycho- 
analytical pronouncements on the subject. Weston la Barre speaks 
of the 'marked biologistic orientation (which is one of the great 
strengths of Freudian psycho-analysis)' (p. 157). Certainly this 
orientation towards biology, taking into account what La Barre 
calls 'the body as a place to Uve in', opened a pathway into the 
inner meaning of the psychoneuroses, but the question is whether 
it helps true insights into psychotherapeutic and sociological 
problems to have a psychodynamic theory which is so tied to 

Marie Bonaparte, in the same volume, writes : 

In the various social structures man has elaborated he has had to 
reconcile his instinctual reproductive drives, his sex instincts, with 
the social exigencies of community living. This has not been accom- 
plished without frustration and suffering. Not only has man had to 
restrain his sex instincts, but also his aggressive instincts. Social 
integration has meant renunciation of the right to kill or steal or 
even to harm his neighbour. Such renunciations also incur suffering, 
for every instinctual deprivation entails constraint and pain. . . . 
Man has imposed additional suffering on himself by his social 
organization which exacts repression of instincts. {Op. cit., p. 145.) 

It seems that as long as there are men on earth there will be 
rivalry between them — domestic rivalry, economic rivalry, sexual 
rivalry. No form of society appears able to establish paradise on 
earth, and all that we learn from pscho-analysis, anthropology and 
sociology shows human beings everywhere in conflict with one 
another. And although, as far as the sexual instincts are concerned, 
a healthier freedom prevails in our day, yet as far as the aggressions 
are concerned there seems little prospect of man's ever achieving 
equal happiness and goodness. For he is caught on the horns of a 
dilemma; either he must curb his aggressive instincts and suffer in 
the process himself, or he may give them free rein and cause suffer- 
ing to others — his victims. {Op. cit., pp. 148-9.) 

Marie Bonaparte has given up as a bad job the possibility of the 
healthy socialization of man. 

It would be idle, of course, to dispute that that is an accurate 
picture of the historical human situation, which continues to be 
the same to-day and appears likely to continue as such in any fore- 
seeable future. Yet in fact these statements contain assumptions 
that cannot be called scientifically proven, or even, in the light of 
contemporary trends in psychology and psycho-analysis, reason- 


ably substantiated. The whole position ignores the possibility that 
man's recalcitrant sexual and aggressive compulsions may not 
after all be due to instinct in the sense of innate and essentially 
unmodifiable drive, but may be due to a psychological factor not 
at that time appreciated. It is no argument to cite the fact that 
man has always been like this, for that need only imply that man 
has never hitherto understood enough of his own mental make-up 
to be in a position to bring about changes in himself in the direc- 
tion of a more genuinely social capacity. The fact that only in our 
lifetime, for the first time in history, has a Freud laid bare to our 
understanding the existence of the dynamic unconscious, and that 
psycho-analysis itself has hardly had time to outgrow its o^vn 
infancy, should lead us to hesitate before accepting such pro- 
nouncements as those cited above as final. 

Where does the difficulty about Freud's position lie? It is not 
that his description of the actual sexual situation of civilized man 
in our time is inaccurate. He was far too acute an observer not to 
see the facts clearly, and he saw them far more clearly than most. 
His picture of the state of sexual frustration inside marriage, and 
its wider repercussions (1908, C.P., II, pp. 89-99) ^ both true and 
challenging. Large numbers of human beings experience a strong 
and persistent pressure of sexual need either conscious or repressed, 
and the upsurge of sexual impulses, in a way that finds no grati- 
fication within the limits of monogamous marriage and civilized 
sexual morality. The result naturally is that many rebel against 
restriction, and many more repress their needs and fall ill of 
neurosis. The question concerns the interpretation to be put upon 
these strong sexual impulses. If they are indeed solely manifesta- 
tions of an innate, constitutionally powerful instinct, then we have 
little option but to tolerate rebels or to endure the spread of 
neurosis. Freud, while advocating a relaxation of sexual morahty 
(1908) (which has in fact occurred during this century, largely as 
a result of two world wars), does not draw a similarly detailed 
picture of what that can mean in practice, i.e. a weakening 
respect for marriage, the 'acting out' of neurosis in sexually in- 
discriminate behaviour which is rationalized as emancipation and 
enlightenment, and, in spite of contraception, an ever-increasing 
supply of unwanted children who are denied their rightful 
parental background and are likely to have to endure in them- 
selves the neuroses their parents are supposed to escape by means 
of sexual freedom — a social problem of first rate importance. In 
fact, the relaxation of sexual morality since Freud wrote in 1 908 
has not led to a diminution of neurosis. Moreover, is the relaxation 


of morality in the interest of health to apply to the 'instinct' of 
aggression as well as sex ? 

But is the basic assumption, that disturbingly powerful sexual 
and aggressive needs are manifestations of fixed instincts, correct : 
or may it not be possible that 'instinctive' is here confused with 
'neurotic' ? Freud never relinquished his dualistic theory of in- 
stincts as innate, powerful, drives of a sexual and aggressive order, 
nor did he ever discard its corollary, that culture and civilization 
rest on renunciation of instincts. Again and again he takes up the 
theme. Thus in Civilization and Its Discontents he writes : 

It is impossible to ignore the extent to which civiUzation is built 
up on renunciation of instinctual gratifications, the degree to which 
the existence of civilization pre-supposes the non-gratification (sup- 
pression, repression or something else?) of powerful instinctual 
urgencies. This cultural privation dominates the whole field of social 
relations between human beings. 

Men are not gentle, friendly creatures wishing for love, who simply 
defend themselves if they are attacked . . . but a powerful measure 
of desire for aggression has to be reckoned as part of their instinctual 
endowment. Culture has to call up every possible reinforcement in 
order to erect barriers against the aggressive instincts of men and 
hold their manifestations in check by reaction-formations in men's 
minds. (1930, pp. 63, 85-7.) 

That is an accurate description of our state of ciffairs, but is this 
state of affairs due to normal innate instincts or to their neurotic 
development ? ^ 

On the face of it, it seems odd that our greatest achievements 
should arise out of the denial of our primary nature, and rest on 
our using for cultural purposes energies designed for different and 
anti-cultural uses. Such a theory calls for the most drastic scrutiny 
and testing. It implies that our fundamental drive to activity, our 
'life-force', is simply the energy of physical appetite, and not a 
function of the 'total personaHty'. 

In fact, the theory of the 'mighty instinct' is highly misleading 
and gravely falsifies the facts. Instinct-theory in general has come 
increasingly under the fire of criticism in both academic and 
psychotherapeutic circles. 

The concept of instinct was borrowed by Freud as a working 
concept to start with. It was already current in the biological and 
general thought of his day and was much used by academic psy- 
chologists. Freud and W. McDougall made instinct the basis of 
their psychological theories. Broadly speaking, the concept has 
proved of more use in animal than in human psychology. Animal 


behaviour is largely based on specific instincts resting on a definite 
neurological structure. N. Tinbergen, in A Study of Instinct 
(1951)5 has carried this type of study of the problem of instinct to 
a remarkable degree of detail and refinement that leaves all earUer 
studies far behind. The nest-building instinct of birds, the web- 
spinning instinct of spiders, the pecking instinct of the newly 
hatched chick, are cases in point ; though as one comes higher up 
in the scale of complexity of animal life, intelligence becomes an 
increasingly obvious factor in modifying pure instinctive reaction. 
McDougall's list of fourteen human instincts of a general kind 
did not establish itself and he ultimately replaced the concept of 
instinct by that of 'propensity', a more vague and general term, 
in the case of human beings. 

The views of academic psychologists on the question may be 
found in General and Social Psychology (Thouless, ch. 3, 1935); 
and in Personality (G. W. Allport, ch. 4, 1949). Simple instinct 
theory is viewed with disfavour, though the existence of innate 
motivational factors is accepted. Thouless sums up his discussion 
as follows : 

There seems to be no sufficient reason for saying that all motive 
forces behind human activity come from the inborn propensities, nor 
even for the more moderate statement that such motive forces as 
come from innate propensities are necessarily the strongest ones. To 
sum up there seems to be no reason for denying the existence of 
human instincts or propensities if these are defined as innate motive 
forces behind behaviour. It seems better to avoid the word 'instinct' 
in connection with human behaviour, since this word may lead to 
misunderstanding. On the other hand, it is doubtful whether the 
conception of human instincts or propensities is of much service in 
explaining differences between societies or between individuals, since 
it is not possible to determine how far these differences are innate 
and how far they are acquired. There seem to be strong reasons for 
rejecting the doctrine that the driving forces behind human be- 
haviour are entirely derived from innate propensities. {Ibid., p. 41.) 

G. W. Allport writes : 

Does the primordial stream of activity contain within itself direc- 
tions which determine its own course of development. . . . The in- 
stinct theory asserts that there are . . . propensities operating 'prior to 
experience and independent of training'. ... In recent years it has 
jbecome common to reject this somewhat extravagant portrayal of 
{human purposes. . . . The doctrine of drive is a rather crude biologi- 
cal conception. . . . The hypothesis herewith offered is that the 


doctrine, while inadequate to account for adult motivation, does 
none the less offer a suitable portrayal of the motives of young 
infants, and for that reason serves very well as the starting-point for 
a theory of motivation. After the level of infancy is passed primitive 
segmental drive rapidly recedes in importance, being supplanted by 
the more sophisticated type of motives characteristic of the mature 
personality. {Op. cit., pp. 1 12-14.) 

Only in its broader outline is the biological theory . . . acceptable 
. . . the personality itself supplies many of the forces to which it must 
adjust. {Op. cit., p. 1 19.) 

The psychology of personality must be a psychology of post- 
instinctive behaviour. . . . Whatever the original drives or 'irritabili- 
ties' of the infant are, they become completely transformed in the 
course of growth into contemporaneous systems of motives. {Ibid.) 

In general the innate factors in human behaviour are now no 
longer regarded as suitable to be called instincts, a term that is 
more reserved for the innate specific behaviour patterns of the 
more primitive forms of life. G. W. Allport's arguments show why 
even the fascinating modem studies of animal instinct of N. Tin- 
bergen and the Ethologists do not provide a basis for human 
psychology any more than the older instinct-theories. Thus the 
sucking reflex in the new-born infant is instinctive, but the 'suck- 
ing need and the sucking attitude to life' of the adult neurotic is 
certainly no simple instinctive phenomenon. McDougall finally 
discarded the term 'instinct' with reference to man, and used 
instead the term 'propensity'. McDougall's successors in Britain 
(Myers, Thouless) adopted the view that instinct is not an actual 
hereditary impulse or drive, a reified psychic entity or force always 
pressing for an outlet, but rather an innate directional, determin- 
ing tendency, a potentiality for action, a latent capacity to react 
in a way which is appropriate to this or that given object or situa- 
tion. In particular, it is not held that specific impulses exist prior 
to experience. Rather an innate tendency is a precondition of a 
specific impulse arising in response to a specific environment. Thus 
we can react with aggression when there is something to be angry 
and aggressive about. An 'instinct' of aggression does not mean 
that we are permanently charged with a destriictive drive which 
is always straining at the leash and seeking outlet whether there 
be good cause for anger and attack or not. Ginsberg writes : 

I incline to the view that aggression is not a primary tendency to 
hurt or destroy, but rather an intensified form of self-assertion and 
self-expression, brought into play under conditions of obstruction. 


or of loss of independence. ... If this be so, aggression and illwill 
generally may be a secondary result of thwarting and interference. 
(1934, p. 106.) 

Fairbaim also takes this view that aggression is not a primary 
response of the infant in that it does not arise independently of 
frustration of the primary libidinal aims. The problem is not quite 
so simple when we turn to sex, for sexual impulses are related to 
a biochemical condition in the body, and the urgency of sexual 
feelings in adolescence is a result, in part, of physical sexual matur- 
ing. Yet if the biological factor of appetite were the only cause of 
sexual impulses, it is probable that the sex life of human beings 
would simply manifest the periodicity it has in animals. As Freud 
noted, 'the sexual instinct ... is more strongly developed in man 
than in most of the higher animals, ... is more constant . . . and 
has almost entirely overcome periodicity'. (1908, CP., II, p. 82.) 
This is because it is now no longer a function of a biological 
'organism' merely, serving only the ends of procreation : it is a 
function of a 'person' whose dominant need is to achieve and 
maintain good personal relationships with other persons. Sex needs 
are most pressing and persistent in adult life when there has been 
a history of love-deprivation in childhood. 

As the writer has expressed it elsewhere : 

We cannot realise our nature as personal except in relationship 
with other persons. ... A human being is an organism with a poten- 
tiality for becoming a person, but that potentiality for personality is 
his real and essential nature, which he does not always realise. Mostly 
we live more at the organismal level than at the personal level, but 
even when we behave more as an organism than as a person there is 
always either a blind or else a conscious striving for the personal life. 
. . . The appetitive compulsion symbolises our reaching out after 
personal relationship, as is conspicuously the case in sexual compul- 
sions. It is the individual who is inwardly isolated from other people, 
who has no genuine flow of sympathetic, friendly feeling towards 
others, who cannot really love, who is driven in desperation to clutch 
at physical contact to make up for inability to achieve emotional 
rapport. If, on the other hand, such an individual has inhibited all 
emotional response and physical impulse with it, he may fall back 
on purely intellectual intercourse which is impersonal and concerned 
with ideas rather than with people. One can argue and discuss with 
people with whom one has nothing really in common, but if one has 
little capacity for having ^something in common' with other folk, 
then intellectual interests may give an illusory sense of still maintain- 
ing human contacts. Depersonalised physical and depersonalised 


intellectual intercourse should rank equally as betrayals of truly 
human living, as substitutes for genuine personal relationships. 
(Guntrip, 1 949. pp. 159-62.) 

Looked at in this way the so-called sex instinct appears in quite 
a different light. Relationship is achieved with both the mind and 
the body, and a sexual relationship is one among other pathways 
of escape from emotional and personal isolation into the security 
and fulfilment of sharing one's life intimately with another person. 
A human being whose basic human relationships in childhood and 
adult life were, and are, good, satisfying and permanent, does not 
experience a ceaseless upsurge of painfully imperious and demand- 
ing sexual impulses. Sexual desire arises rather as a realistic re- 
sponse to a really appreciated external love-object. There is no 
'mighty impulse' the task of mastering which 'may weU absorb all 
the energies of a human being'. (1908, C.P., II, p. 88.) Actual 
sexual impulses, like aggressive impulses, when they jxjssess this 
overmastering compulsive quality, are a response to a situation 
of frustration and deprivation. They are not 'innate' qua 'im- 
pulses', they are rather 'being aroused' all the time; and not 
simply by an externally frustrating present-day environment but 
by the way in which frustration in early development became 
embedded in the internal structure of the personality itself. It can 
happen that compulsive aggression and sexual need are exi>eri- 
enced inside a good marriage where objective frustration is at a 
minimum. These upsurging emotions and impulses are, in truth, 
not primarily reactions to the objects and situations of the outer 
world of the present day even though they are directed to them. 
They are reactions to situations of frustration perpetuated from 
childhood in the inner, unconscious, psychic world which is played 
upon by the outer world. It is because these impulses surge up 
from within the psyche that they were for so long mistakenly 
misinterpreted as innate instinctive manifestations qua impulses. 
Academic psychology to-day no longer equates instinct and im- 
pulse, but regards instinct as the potentiality of impulse, while an 
actual impulse is the evoking of the potential reaction in response 
to an object. Thus Cohen finds occasion 'to cast doubt on the value 
of instinct theory altogether as an explanatory principle in human 
conduct'. (1946, p. 36.) The 'mighty impulses' of sex and aggres- 
sion, which for Freud were instincts, are regarded by Karen 
Homey as 'neurotic trends', that is, not as the original data of 
psychic life but as developments needing explanation and cor-: 

A more accurate analysis of the nature of the unconscious 


enables us to discard the older instinct theory with its pessimistic 
and fatalistic implications for social life. Sexual difficulties can 
now be seen as due not to the constitutional strength of the sex 
instinct, but to the developmental immaturity of the whole per- 
sonality, and more specifically to the internal and unconscious 
perpetuation in the psyche of the frustrating object-relations of 
early life. Neurotic suffering is not due to the repression of strong 
and healthy constitutional sexuality, but to the struggle to master 
infantile and immature sexual needs which are kept alive by the 
situation in the unconscious inner world. 

We are thus not tied down to Freud's conclusions that a relaxa- 
tion of cultural and moral standards is the only escape from 
neurosis for the majority. The position is rather that cultural and 
moral standards, which, however, need to be subjected to rational 
and enlightened criticism and development, are, at their best, an 
expression of the way in which reasonably mature individuals 
behave, the way in which in fact Freud himself behaved in private 
life. The struggle to live up to them does not cause neurosis. That 
puts the cart before the horse. It is because neurosis is already 
there that reasonable moral standards cannot be lived up to. Re- 
laxation of moral standards could be called for as a concession 
to the ubiquitous low level of mental health in all communities, 
but is not called for as a concession to the innate instincts of 
reasonably mature and healthy-minded persons. The notion that 
civilization rests on the renunciation of instincts is a misleading 
ideology that there is now urgent need to discard. 

We must, however, pay tribute to Freud for his courageous 
and ruthless logic which, working with the best psychodynamic 
concepts available in 1908 (which were themselves the result of 
his own work) exposed faithfully a state of affairs which still 
urgently needs attention in our own day. The important issue at 
stake, theoretically, is that if his 'instinct-diagnosis' were true the 
problem could be solved only by repression or cultural regression. 
The diagnosis now available opens the prospect of solving the 
problem by promoting conditions that aid the emotional maturing 
of the individual, without necessitating the sacrifice of cultural 

(b) Culture. We must, however, look further into the general 
theory of culture, civilization and social life which Freud erected 
on the basis of his instinct-theory, for it involves many other 
matters of great importance besides sexual morality, such as the 
Freudian theories of science, art, morality in general, rehgion and 
the relationship between the material and psychic components of 
culture. Twenty years after the paj>er we have discussed, in The 


Future of an Illusion (1927), Freud still held the same basic posi- 
tion. The book opens with a discussion of the nature of Culture. 
{Op. cit., pp. 7-28.) 

This we may summarize as follows : 

(i) The ideal is a culture without coercion which gives free play 
to instinctive gratification. 

(ii) This, however, is impossible because man's endowment in- 
cludes destructive forces. 

(iii) He defines culture as that which raises human life above 
animal conditions, and as consisting of two parts, material and 
psychical, i.e. knowledge and power to master nature and the 
arrangements for regulating human relations. He holds that co- 
ercion is the foundation of all actual culture. 
The important part of culture is not the material part (mastery of 
nature) but the psychical part (mastery of human nature, of in- 
stinct). Freud regards every individual as naturally an enemy of 
culture, even though it is also a natural universal concern. He 
holds that although men cannot maintain their existence alone, 
they also cannot put up with the restrictions and sacrifices neces- 
sary to living together. Thus what is necessary for existence has 
to be defended against our very nature. Culture has to be forced 
on the resisting mass by a powerful few, and must, therefore, not 
only suppress man's destructive impulses but reconcile men to 
instinctual renunciation. The theoretical ideal of 'no coercion and 
full instinctual gratification' must be given up in favour of the 
practical ideal of producing superior people who have insight and 
can master their own wishes. Freud thinks that although it might 
seem that a social organization which did not coerce or suppress 
instincts ought to lead to satisfying enjoyment of living, it would 
not work out that way, for there are destructive and antisocial J 
tendencies in everyone, and the majority of people are lazy, unin- * 
telligent and not prepared to be other than unruly. The main 
business of culture, then, is to compensate men for the sacrifices 
of natural impulse that must of necessity be enforced, while reduc- 
ing these to a minimum, thus reconciling men to what is necessary 
for their very existence. (Cp. 1927, pp. 9-12.) 

Freud shares his thoroughly pessimistic view of human nature 
with Hobbes, Machiavelli, Schopenhauer and Pareto (and also 
with Mussolini and Hitler who, as dictators are bound to be, were 
contemptuous of the masses they thought only fit to be controlled). 
He differs in his ultimate faith in the still small voice of scientific 
reason. He bases his view on the destructive tendencies actually 
existing in men, but in fact the matter goes deeper. On his general 
theory^ libido as well as aggression is basically antisocial. Libido 


is, for Freud, fundamentally pleasure-seeking and narcissistic, 
which involves the prostitution of the object to the role, not of 
intrinsically valuable end, but merely of utilitarian means to 
the subjective gratification of the individual. On the theory that 
sensual gratification is the goal, it is, strictly speaking, an irrele- 
vant matter what happens to the sexual object after she or he 
has been used. Freud has to resort to the theory of aim-inhibited 
instincts and sublimation to conjure altruistic — i.e. truly object- 
seeking — impulses out of non-altruistic human nature. This in- 
volves only a negative theory of culture as existing to enforce and 
reconcile man to the renunciation of antisocial instincts. Freud 
viewed culture as control of instinct to make human relations 
possible at all. He seems oblivious to the requirement of person- 
ality theory, that culture should be seen as the development and 
fulfilment of human beings as persons, not mere organisms. It is 
the meaning of human relations. 

Freud's theory of culture rests ultimately on the view that 
aggressive and libidinal impulses are essentially non-altruistic 
and represent a basic biologically determined instinctive endow- 
ment, which lies behind even their frustrated form, and which 
cannot be changed. 

Thus human nature is innately unfitted for, and hostile to, good 
personal relationships. It is only fitted for the exploitation of 
objects in the interests of biological appetitive needs. If good 
personal relations are preferred, it is for reasons of expediency 
and because mutuality heightens pleasure, not because they are 
an intrinsic good, the really needed experience, in themselves. 
Good personal relations must as far as possible be enforced, 
because, if they are not, even pleasure is ultimately impossible, a 
completely nihilistic theory. Freud outdoes Hobbes's 'state of 
nature' which is 'nasty, brutish and short'. He thinks that but for 
the coercion of culture any man would rape any woman he liked 
and kill anyone who tried to stop him, and rob without any hesita- 
tion, and life would be one long delight — but for the fact that 
others would do the same to him. There is no such thing as 
natural good feeling. Only fear can restrain human beings, for 
their nature is wholly antisocial. 

It does not ease matters to say that coercion is a practical 
necessity because of the cultural embitterment of man. That is 
true, but Freud's theory is that human nature is innately self- 
seeking, pleasure-seeking {not object-seeking), and is to be social- 
ized only under very heavy pressure ; and then only from non- 
altruistic motives, and under a never-relinquished repressed pro- 
test and revolt. Recent developments more and more establish the 


opposite view that good personal relationship is not desired merely 
for the sake of pleasure but is in itself the basic need and aim of 
men, whose nature cannot be fulfilled without it, while aggression 
and pleasure-seeking only result from the frustration of this 
primary aim. 

Karen Horney writes : 

Freud had a pessimistic outlook on human nature and, on the 
ground of his premises, was bound to have it. As he saw it, man is 
doomed to dissatisfaction whichever way he turns. He cannot live 
out satisfactorily his primitive natural drives without wrecking him- 
self and his civilization. He cannot be happy alone or with others. 
He has but the alternative of suffering himself or making others 
suffer. It is all to Freud's credit that, seeing, things this way, he did 
not compromise with a glib solution. Actually within the framework 
of his thinking there is no escape from one of these two alternative 
evils. At best there may be a less unfavourable distribution of forces, 
better control, and 'sublimation'. (1951, p. 377.) 

Freud did, in the sphere of psycho dynamic theory, what Hume 
did in philosophy ; he pursued a possible negative theory with un- 
compromising logic to its final conclusions, and produced the 
same kind of effect, namely that of forcing enquiry into a new 
direction. If Freud's view of human nature, and hence of social 
organization, makes little positive contribution to sociology, it 
must be said that it clears the field for a constructive social psy- 
chology. Above all, he forces us to face the fact that the stability 
of any society depends on how far its structure and culture enable 
the individual to cope with his intrapsychic conflicts. Freud's 
problem, viewing man as he did, was to explain how social life 
could persist at all in face of man's antisocial nature. Here a 
curious fact emerges. Though we hold that man's nature is not 
primarily antisocial, and the antisocial factors at work in human 
behaviour are due, not to innate instinct, but to immaturity of 
development, the practical result, so far as immediate difficulties 
in socializing man are concerned, is much the same. Whether due 
to native instinct, or to the infantile condition of the emotional 
(as distinct from the intellectual) life of the majority of human 
beings, men do manifest socially destructive forms of both sexual 
and aggressive impulse. The basic theory makes a great difference 
to our view of the final possibilities of personal and social progress ; 
but, either way, the immediate cultural task is to devise ways and 
means of enforcing social organization. The question of control 
of (either innate or immature and neurotic) impulses, and of com- 
pensation for their renunciation arises, and with it what Freud 


calls 'the psychical inventory of culture', morality, art, religion 
and politics. Psychotherapy comes in here as an attempt not 
merely to relieve symptoms but to mature and socialize the in- 
dividual. Before these special questions could be dealt with satis- 
factorily, we need a basic theory of human nature which will en- 
able us to transcend Freud's pessimistic, psychobiological theory 
that (i) human insdncts are intrinsically antisocial, and therefore 
(ii) culture must inevitably be basically discipHnary, coercive and 
negative, so that (iii) the possibilities of both individual therapy 
and social betterment are extremely limited. In fact, Freud's ego- 
analysis opened the way to this. 

(c) Psychotherapy. The two halves of Freud's theory, the 
earlier psychobiology of instinct and the later psychological analysis 
of the structure of the ego, each involve a different approach to 
psychotherapy. This, it seems, was hardly realized, no doubt ow- 
ing to the fact that it was not recognized that the later analysis 
of the ego called for a revision of the instinct-theory. 

The view of psychotherapy necessitated by the instinct-theory 
remained the basis of Freud's views on the matter. This theory 
was the underlying cause of the pessimism Freud came to feel not 
only about social Kfe but about the therapeutic value of psycho- 
analysis in contrast to its great value as a scientific method of 
research into the dynamic constitution of human nature. Dr. C. 
Thompson states that periodically the psycho-analytic movement 
experienced waves of disillusionment and pessimism about thera- 
peutic results. 

In face of powerful antisocial instincts, there are only three 
possibilities : one can release these drives and become criminal, or 
repress them and become neurotic, or (and this is a possibility only 
open to the favoured few to any extent) sublimate them into 
socially acceptable activities. Neurosis on this view arises out of 
the conflict of instinct and culture, the battle of a largely unmodi- 
fiable constitutional make-up in the individual against an unyield- 
ing environment. In so far as the environment won, neurosis was 
the result. 

Freud's view of psychotherapy then was twofold, (i) to induce 
the environment to lower its standards and demands on the in- 
dividual, and (ii) to support and strengthen the ego in its struggle 
against the overpowering strength of instincts. Psycho-analytic 
therapy would aim to ease off over-severe repression on these in- 
stincts, strengthen the ego to a greater capacity for rational control 
and for replacement of repression by sublimation, and thus induce 
the ego (and if possible society) to be more tolerant and {>ermissive 
to them. Nothing could really be done about the instincts them- 


selves which remain lord and master of all. Therapeutic possibili- 
ties on the basis of this doctrine are limited, and this is, in fact, the 
position with regard to all short-term therapeutic measures. 

The hard core of neurosis was the Oedipus conflict, the im- 
perious demands of the child's instincts for possession of one 
parent, with jealousy, hate and aggression against the other. This 
conflict developed from three to five years of age, which was the 
imjx)rtant period, and the conflict was basically a biological fact. 
The problems of earlier oral and anal phases were regarded as 
'pre-genital' and dealt with in terms of their relationship to the 
genital and Oedipal phase. Human life was one long struggle with 
a recalcitrant organic make-up which does not fit us for social 
relationships. Psychotherapy was the problem of instinct-mastery 
and the possibilities of success were inherently very limited, con- 
fined to an amalgamation of repression, sublimation and control. 

Naturally psychotherapeutic success was achieved in sufficient 
measure, or psycho-analysis would have broken down under the 
impact of clinical failure. The theory, however, did not adequately 
explain the success. Nevertheless, the permanent foundations of a 
true psychotherapy were laid in the aims of undoing repression 
by utilizing the transference. Furthermore, the psychobiological 
theory did open the way for the understanding of the physical 
symptoms of neurosis and the whole problem of the involvement 
of the body in the tensions and conflicts of the personality. The 
theory of 'hysterical conversion' was faiiiy established and the 
ground ultimately prepared for the present-day investigations into 
psychosomatic disease. 

4. The Criticisms of Freud's Instinct-Theory by the 'Culture 

Pattern' School 

These have recently been summarized by Clara Thompson in 
Psychoanalysis: Evolution and Development (1952). She says that 
her 'slant is towards the cultural interpersonal school' (p. xi), and 
she represents the critical approach to Freud characteristic of those 
in America who are influenced by Harry Stack Sullivan, Karen 
Homey and Erich Fromm. The general criticism is that Freud 
described 'man' as he saw him in Vienna at the end of last century, 
as shaped by the Western European culture-pattern, and un- 
critically took that to represent 'universal, biological man'. Man's 
typical impulses and emotions were assumed to come from innate 
instinctive drives. What he really described was the emotional 
condition which was typical of the majority of human beings 
developing under certain recognizable environmental conditions 


and social pressures at a given place and period. As the present 
writer would prefer to put it, Freud equated average or general 
immaturity with innate constitutional make-up. Therefore he saw 
the social problem as that of an unremitting battle to tame and 
control fixed antisocial instincts, instead of as the problem of how 
to develop mature individuals. Thompson writes : 

The emphasis on constitution turned attention away from what we 
would now call the cultural orientation. . . . The impression grew on 
Freud that the patient fell ill primarily because of the strength of his 
own instinctual drives. ... It tended to close his mind to the signifi- 
ance of environment and led him to pay too little attention to the 
role of the emotional problems of parents in contributing to the dif- 
ficulties of their children. 

Freud claimed that libidinal pleasure in body functions was im- 
portant in the dynamics of neurosis, wheras many think to-day that 
the dynamics of neurosis are derived from other sources. Freud did 
not envision people in terms of developing powers and total person- 
alities. He thought of them much more mechanistically — as victims 
of the search for the release of tension. (1952, pp. 9-10, 42-3.) 

Thompson suggests that his essay on Analysis, Terminable and 
Interminable (1951, C.P., V, p. 316) 'brought his biological think- 
ing to its logical dead end' (p. 1 4). 

Of Freud's two 'instinct-theories' the earlier placed the stress on 
libidinal drives, while the later brought aggression to the forefront. 

(a) Libido. Referring to the fact that Freud 'often mistook cul- 
tural phenomena for biological-instinctual phenomena' (p. 34), 
Thompson says of the Libido theory, with its oral, anal, phallic 
and genital phases, that he observed accurately the 'general order 
of development in our society' (p. 35), but he failed to recognize 
how cultural factors determined and influenced the pattern. Thus 
customs with regard to feeding and cleanliness training of infants, 
and attitudes to infantile masturbation, vary enormously in dif- 
ferent cultures, some of which are easy and permissive while others 
are rigid and repressive. Granted that the oral phase is biologically 
determined by the fact that the mouth is the baby's 'most adequate 
organ' (p. 35), difficulty arises, not out of an overstrong drive to 
oral pleasure but out of unsatisfactory and frustrating experiences 
with the feeding mother which would intensify needs and desire. 
One of my patients dreamed of having her favourite meal, and 
just as she came to the nicest bit her mother came in and snatched 
it away from under her nose ; when she protested her mother said : 
'Don't be a baby.' Moloney reports that among the Okinaw^ans 
where nui^sing habits are free and the nursing period lengthy, the 


people grow up flexible, loving and anxiety-free. (J. C. Moloney, 
The Magic Cloak, 1949.) 

Concerning Freud's anal stage Thompson holds that : 

Cultural factors dominate the picture. . . . The emphasis at this 
stage belongs not on the pleasure the child gets from retaining and 
expelling faeces, but on the struggle with the parents. The child's 
wish to do what he wants whenever he wishes comes here for the first 
time into sharp conflict with the parent's plans. This is what puts its 
stamp on the character of the child. Parents who set a great store on 
regularity and neatness usually have in their whole attitude to life 
rigidities and rituals which are also forced on the child. (1952, pp. 


How far parents can be tolerant or strict is in turn a reflection of 
the pattern of their culture. Even parents who, left to themselves, 
would be lenient, are afraid of what neighbours and friends will 
think of them and their child. Thompson observes that since 'The 
maturing of the nerve pathways of both anus and penis, in so far 
as they serve as organs of excretion, occurs at about the same time' 
(p. 37), the occurrence of an anal phase earlier than a phalHc one 
must be culturally determined. 

There is a biological factor determining interest in the genital 
at the phallic phase, but in our culture this is greatly frowned on 
by most parents and 'out of this cultural attitude comes the fear 
of castration which Freud considered one of the chief sources of 
anxiety in man' (p. 38). In fact, however, that is too superficial an 
explanation of castration-fear. 

Thus, instead of a fixed, innate, biological process of the de- 
veloping of the libidinal sexual drive through predetermined 
stages, the reality is a complex and by no means fixed but changing 
pattern of cultural attitudes and customs which shape the form 
and intensity of Hbidinal drives to the accompaniment of pleasure 
or anxiety in interpersonal relationships. The occurrence and form 
of the Oedipus complex and the latency period are also, for 
Thompson, largely culturally determined phenomena. 

{b) Aggression. This was early stressed by Adler in opposition to 
Freud's emphasis on sex. It was more sf>ecifically accepted at a 
later period by Freud as an important factor in neurosis, and was 
provided for in his third instinct theory by the concept of a death 
instinct. This was a basic drive to eliminate, not merely the ten- 
sions of sex, but the tensions of life itself, by a return to the in- 
organic state. Clinically, Freud saw this as a destructive urge, 
aimed primarily against the self, and needing to be, either modified 
by mixture with libido to form masochism and sadism, or else 


turned outwards as aggression against others. We have to be aggres- 
sive to save ourselves from self-destruction. Now while this is true 
of neurotic aggression, which always operates destructively against 
the self within when damned up by anxiety and guilt and so 
blocked from outward expression, yet Freud's theory of the death 
instinct is an unnecessarily tortuous way of accounting for the 
primary capacity for aggression. 

Few orthodox analysts have been able to accept the death 
instinct theory. Fenichel in particular has criticized it radically. 
Some of his objections are as follows : 

There is no proof that (aggressive drives) always and necessarily 
came into being by a turning outwards of more primary self-destruc- 
tive drives. ... It seems rather as if aggressiveness were originally . . . 
a mode in which instinctual aims are sometimes striven for, in re- 
sponse to frustrations or even spontaneously. ... A death instinct 
would not be compatible with the approved biological concept of 
instinct. . . . The facts on which Freud based his concept of a death 
instinct in no way necessitate the assumption of two basically opposite 
kinds of instincts, the aim of one being relaxation and death, the aim 
of the other being a binding into higher units. . . . The clinical facts 
of self-destruction likewise do not necessitate the assumption of a 
genuine self -destructive instinct. ( 1 945, pp. 59-60.) 

In his paper on A Critique of the Death Instinct (1954, pp. 370-1) 
Fenichel observes that when 

the conception that in the neurotic conflict two kinds of instinct, i.e. 
ego and sex, struggle with each other was abandoned it was able to 
return in a more dangerous variant, namely, in the theory that 
neurosis rests upon a conflict of two kinds of instinctual qualities, a 
self-destructive one, the death instinct, and an 'erotic' ego which was 
afraid of its death instinct. Such an interpretation would mean a 
total elimination of the social factor from the etiology of neuroses, 
and would amount to a complete biologization of neurosis. 

As Thompson points out, it is quite unproved that the processes 
leading to normal organic decay and death have any connection 
with the origin of destructive and aggressive drives. Freud 

assumes that suicide and destructiveness towards others are products 
of the death instinct. More recent observation by others suggests, 
however, that they have much more to do with the feeling of being 
thwarted in living. . . . Freud did not give sufficient weight to the 
significance of the interplay of the personalities of parents and 
children. Therefore he attributed the frequent evidence of destruc- 


tiveness in children to an inherent drive which began to assert itself 
at the anal stage. . . . The children who inflict pain with the inten- 
tion of hurting are children who have been treated cruelly or over- 
stemly. . . . Aggression normally appears in response to frustration. 
. . . Serious destructiveness seems to be developed by malevolent 
environments. . . . The tendency to grow, develop and reproduce 
seems to be a part of the human organism. When these drives are 
obstructed by neurotic parents or as a result of a destructive cultural 
pattern, then the individual develops resentment and hostility either 
consciously or unconsciously or both. In- short, far from being a 
product of the death instinct, it is an expression of the organism's 
attempt to live. . . . [Freud] sees man predominantly as an instinct- 
ridden animal and does not give adequate weight to the overwhelm- 
ing importance of social factors in moulding as well as distorting 
man's potentialities. (1952, pp. 52-5.) 

Thus Freud's instinct-theory, carrying with it a social and thera- 
peutic pessimism, is broken down by these critics into a theory of 
human nature as shaped during the course of its development by 
the pressures exerted on it by interpersonal relations in some given 
cultural pattern. The form and intensity of troublesome and anti- 
social sexual and aggressive impulses are not predetermined by the 
biological inheritance of fixed instincts ; they are shaped in the 
course of individual developmental life-history, and are main- 
tained by the culture patterns which determine the way inter- 
personal relationships are experienced. 

Chapter VI 


I. Ego-Analysis and Endopsychic Conflict 

Anna Freud has stated that : 

When the writings of Freud, beginning with Group Psychology 
and the Analysis of the Ego and Beyond the Pleasure Principle, took 
a fresh direction, the odium of analytical unorthodoxy no longer 
attached to the study of the ego and interest was definitely focussed 
on the ego-institutions. Since then the term 'depth-psychology' cer- 
tainly does not cover the whole field of psycho-analytical research. 
(1936, p. 4.) 

The publication of Freud's The Ego and the Id (1923) and 
Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926) may be taken as mark- 
ing the maturing of the new development that came about in liis 
writings from 1920 to 1926. Its practical importance appears with 
the pubUcation of Character Analysis by WiUielm Reich (1935) 
and The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defence by Anna Freud 
(1936), where it is clear that ego-analysis had taken a central place 
in psycho-analytical therapy. W. Reich realized that to analyse 
id-material (i.e. deep unconscious infantile material) direct, with- 
out analysing first the 'character-armour' of the ego with its 
defences and resistances against the deep unconscious, is to court 
failure or to arrive at intellectual insight only, unaccompanied by 
any dynamic emotional change in personality-strvicture. 

Anna Freud wrote that the definition of psycho-analysis as 
pre-eminently a psychology of the unconscious ... of tlie id . . . 
immediately loses all claim to accuracy when we apply it to psycho- 
analytic therapy. From the beginning analysis, as a therapeutic 
method, was concerned with the ego and its aberrations : the investi- 
gation of the id and of its mode of operation was always only a 
means to an end. And the end was invariably the same : the correc- 
tion of these abnormalities and the restoration of the ego to its 
integrity. (1936, p. 4.) 


Nevertheless, on her own admission, 'the odium of analytical 
unorthodoxy' had, prior to 1920, attached to the direct study of 
the ego. 

The development of the years 1920 to 1936 may be described 
in the words of the title of Franz Alexander's book of the same 
period, The Psycho- Analysis of the Total Personality (1930). A 
psychodynamic theory of the whole personality was what Freud 
aimed to provide in his theory of the id, ego and super-ego. Fair- 
bairn maintains that in fact he imposed a new ego-psychology 
upon an earlier instinct- and impulse-psychology with which it 
was incompatible. It is clear from The Future of an Illusion (1927) 
and Civilization and its Discontents (1930), both written in this 
period, that Freud saw no need for modifying his earlier biological 
orientation in the light of this later more strictly psychological ego- 

However, we must consider the immediate problem that con- 
fronted Freud. The objective of psychotherapy is the resolution 
of psychic conflicts which cripple the individual's capacity to live 
effectively in his outer world. Now psychic conflicts are broadly of 
two kinds ; firstly, conflicts between the individual as a total self, 
a whole psyche, and his environment; and, secondly, conflicts 
within the individual as a divided psyche, in which he operates as 
a mentally self-frustrating entity. Conflict originates between the 
whole psyche and the environment, but comes to be reflected in 
the internal development of the psyche itself. Some external con- 
flicts are primary, therefore, and due to an actually difficult or 
hostile environment. Others are secondary, and due to the pro- 
jection back into the external situation of conflicts of internal 
origin. It is the endopsychic conflict that constitutes the real 
problem for psychotherapy for it may be activated by external 
difficulties, but it may also operate independently when the en- 
vironmental situation causes no trouble. How often do we hear 
the complaint : 'I am worrying all the time and really I have 
nothing to worry about.' 

Endopsychic conflicts, however, are structural phenomena. 
It was early realized that there is no such thing as isolated im- 
pulses or emotions, as entities per se, conflicting inside the psyche 
as in a kind of arena. Impulses and emotions are dynamic aspects 
or activities of psychic structures and endopsychic conflict is a 
manifestation of structural differentiations of a contradictory 
kind. That is what is meant by 'splits' in the originally unitary 
psyche. Freud regarded each differentiation as adding more diffi- 
culties for the functioning of the mind, thus causing greater in- 
stability and further breakdown-points for iUness. (Cp. 1921, 


pp. 103-4.) It is important, therefore, for our understanding of 
psychic conflict and of our psychotherapeutic attempts to resolve 
it, that we should understand just how endopsychic structural 
differentiation develops; and whether, in spite of individual 
differences, it produces something like a common basic pattern 
of mental organization and inner conflict in all human beings. 
Freud's theory of the id, ego and super-ego boldly affirms that it 
does and we must trace the evolution of that theory. 

2. The Development of Freud's Ego- Analysis 

Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), in which Freud worked 
out his speculative theory of the death instinct, could, perhaps, be 
regarded as a neurological philosophy of human nature. At this 
stage we are concerned only with the account of the 'ego' it con- 
tains, as the starting-point of a new psycho-analytical develop- 
ment. Speaking of the ego of psychology Freud realized that 
psycho-analysis had first seen it only as an instrument of censorship 
and repression, and thought it better not to contrast the conscious 
and the unconscious, but the ego and what was repressed. This 
repressing ego is equivalent to the mental apparatus in its higher 
strata, which aims to bind any instinctual excitation that may 
reach the 'primary process' to prevent its causing a disturbance 
that would be like a traumatic neurosis. The previous growth of 
libido theory, he observes, had opposed 'sexual instincts' which 
aim at an object and 'ego instincts' such as those of self-preserva- 
tion. But coming closer to the ego with the development of the 
theory of narcissism, he described it as the sole source of all libido. 
The ego becomes one of the child's 'sexual' objects, an object of 
'narcissistic' libido; and this 'narcissistic' libido is both an ex- 
pression of the sexual instinct and is identical with the instinct 
of self-preservation. The opposition between the sexual instinct 
and the ego instincts, therefore, no longer holds good. Libidinal 
instincts are not confined to the id but operate in the ego, and the 
distinction between id and ego begins to fade. Freud then went 
further and decided that there were other (non-libidinal) instincts 
in the ego besides the self-preservative instinct now newly recog- 
nized as libidinal, though he thought that ego-analysis was not 
sufficiently advanced to make it clear what they were. 

The view that the ego contained libidinal instincts of a nar- 
cissistic nature and was the primary source even of object-libido 
(which is ego-libido turned outwards to objects, whence it may 
be introverted again in secondary narcissism) prompted Freud to 
closer ego-analysis. He decided that the ego contained also 


destructive instincts aiming at the reduction of all life-tensions, 
and restoration to the original status of inanimate matter, i.e. 
death instinct. Just as object-libido is the extraversion of nar- 
cissistic ego^libido, so aggression is the extraversion of self-destruc- 
tive ego-trends. (Gp. 1920, pp. 68-72.) 

At this point the position has become confused. Freud began 
with an unconscious which was the source of all energy, and from 
which libidinal drives surged up to be 'bound' and repressed by 
the ego or higher strata of the mental apparatus, in the interests 
of self-preservation. With the recognition of libidinal instincts 
in the ego, however, this distinction between the instinctive uncon- 
scious and a purely defensive ego broke down. Strictly speaking, 
what later came to be called the id was now no longer in its 
primary nature different from the ego or vice versa. The ego and 
the instinctual unconscious are both libidinally instinctive and the 
difference between them really disappears. The difference between 
the repressed instinctive sexual unconscious and the repressing 
conscious and preconscious ego has become unimportant by com- 
parison with the much more fundamental opposition between 
libidinal and destructive, or life and death, instincts, all of which 
operate primarily in the ego itself, from which they are second- 
arily turned outwards on to objects. The ego has now become the 
primary reservoir of both libido and aggression. It would seem, 
then, that the instinctive unconscious and the ego are one and the 
same, while the unconscious in which psycho-analysis is interested 
— the repressed unconscious — is a secondary thing, originating in 
the splitting off from the primary ego of that portion of its libidinal 
and destructive energies which have become turned outwards 
away from itself on to objects, thereby encountering environ- 
mental dangers. This is not really a theory of an id and ego, but a 
theory of primary ego-splitting, and it is hardly possible to recon- 
cile this with the later view of a primary instinctive id on the 
surface of which an ego develops by contact with the external 
world, and as a purely controlling agency. At least, in the two 
cases the term 'ego' is used in radically different senses. 

In Beyond the Pleasure Principle the ego has swallowed up 
everything and has become in effect the basic unitary primary 
total psychic self. That is, in my opinion, the most satisfactory view 
of the ego to take, for then development takes place along the 
lines of the differentiation or splitting of this primary unitary 
psyche into opposing structures, as a result of difficulties encoun- 
tered in external object-relations. The orthodox psycho-analytic 
ego is but a partial, secondary, controlling ego resulting from this 
splitting : for Freud did not hold to the view of the ego that he had 


here arrived at, evidently because his biological orientation for- 
bade him after all to regard instincts as ego properties. Kris refers 
to the subsequent history of Freud's ego-analysis when he writes : 

Freud's ideas were constantly developing, his writings represent a 
sequence of reformulations, and one might therefore well take the 
view that the systematic cohesion of psycho-analytic propositions is 
only, or at least best, accessible through their history. The clearest 
instance of such a reformulation was the gradual introduction of 
structural concepts. The introduction of these new concepts has never 
fully been integrated with the broad set of propositions developed 
earlier. (152, p. 304.) 

In the next book, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego 
(192 1 ), Freud uses ego-analysis as a means of explaining the 
libidinal nature of group ties. His view was that what binds in- 
dividuals together into an organized group is a complex process. 
He rejects the simple notion of a Herd Instinct, which in any case 
merely gives a name to group ties without attempting to under- 
stand them. Each individual identifies himself with the leader in 
that part of his ego which Freud calls the 'ego^ideal'. He then 
substitutes the leader for his ego-ideal, thus falling completely 
under the leader's direction, and he identifies himself in the re- 
mainder of his ego with all other group members as equal objects 
of the leader's love. This rests upon an analysis of the ego into 
two parts on what is clearly a different principle from the distinc- 
tion between life and death instincts. There the starting-point is 
biology. Here the starting-point is psychology ; i.e. not distinctions 
which are regarded as innate in the organism, but distinctions 
which arise in the ego after birth as a result of experiences in 

He describes the historical development of 'mental differentia- 
tions' as taking place in three stages. First 'our mental existence' 
— i.e. the total primary psychic self as a unity — is separated by 
birth from the world of objects represented in the first place by 
the mother : the primary identification of subject and object is 
dissolved, or at least the condition of physical separateness of 
subject and object is established which makes possible its gradual 
dissolution. The second step is taken when after birth mental ex- 
perience separates out into an organized ego and another part 
which is repressed and unconscious. This is further clarified by 
his note on Le Bon's unconscious which is largely a racial mind 
with which psycho-analysis is not concerned. Freud recognized 
a nucleus of the ego which he called an 'archaic heritage' which is 
unconscious, but distinguishes a 'repressed unconscious' from it. 


So far we are on the same ground as in Beyond the Pleasure 
Principle. The ego is the primary reservoir of all instinctive ener- 
gies, libidinal and aggressive, containing within itself an 'archaic 
heritage' of the human mind, and a split-off portion to form the 
secondary or 'repressed unconscious', i.e. the unconscious with 
which p)sycho-analysis is concerned. The implication is that what 
remains, as a repressing and controlUng ego, is Ukewise secondary, 
and also that the 'repressed unconscious' has a basically ego- 
nature. It follows that the differentiation of the repressed uncon- 
scious and the repressing ego can be regarded as the first split in the 
primary fundamental ego. Nevertheless Freud did not recognize 
these implications or use them as the basis for his final scheme, for 
there the term 'ego' is used exclusively in a more restricted sense. 

Freud now sp>eaks of the 'coherent ego' (as if the unconscious 
had lost by repression, its coherent ego-quaUty and become some- 
thing impersonal, later to be called an 'id'), and the third step 
is taken with its division into ego and ego^ideal. He had worked 
out this process in his earlier articles On Narcissism: An Intro- 
duction (19 14, CP., IV, p. 30) and on Mourning and Melan- 
cholia (191 7, C.P., IV, p. 152) and now utilized the results. The 
ego-ideal is a differentiating grade in the ego which forms out 
of all the limitations imposed on the ego by the external world. 
His description of this division in the coherent ego, on the basis 
of his analysis of melancholia, shows that it is a purely psycho- 
logical phenomenon arising out of exf>eriences in object-relation- 
ships. The bitter self-criticism it carries on shows that it holds an 
identification of the ego with a hated object. The part which 
carries on the criticism is the 'ego^ideal' or conscience, in which 
the demands of the environment are enshrined. Thus the ego has 
become split into two mutually hostile parts, one of which remains 
fundamentally 'ego' and which has incorporated and is identified 
with a lost loved object, and the other of which has likewise incor- 
p>orated and is identified with external, and especially parental, 
authorities. The first is libidinal in its direct aims, the second is 
plainly anti-libidinal since in its direct aims it persecutes and 
rages against both ego and object in their identificatory love- 
attachment. These two parts of the ego each function as an object 
to the other, with the same kind of relationship that the ego has 
to external objects. 

Here is a clear enunciation of a new and profoundly important 
principle of psychological analysis, to be developed later by 
Melanie Klein and Fairbaim into the theories of the 'internal 
psychic object', the 'psychic inner world' and 'internal object- 
relationships'. At this point it would have been possible for Freud 


to have made a radical revision of his entire theory, and to have 
left instincts to biology while working out a purely clinically based 
theory of neurosis and personality-structure, as explained by post- 
natal developmental changes and differentiations within the total 
psyche as the primary, unitary ego, caused by that primary ego's 
involvements in object-relationships with the outer world whose 
chief and first representatives are parents. He has described ( i ) the 
emergence at birth of our 'mental existence' or primary psychic 
self, (2) its differentiation into and organized ego and a rejected 
portion or repressed unconscious, and (3) the differentiation of the 
organized ego into 'ego' and 'ego-ideal'. Taking instincts for 
granted as primary potentialities, this makes psychodynamics a 
pure ego-analysis. 

In The Ego and The Id (1923a), however, Freud sought to 
marry his new ego-analysis to his earlier instinct-theory. It be- 
comes clear in this book that his theory of the ego changed ground 
twice. Originally the ego was 'only a repressing and censoring 
agency'. (1920, p. 69.) Then, with the development of his theory 
of narcissism, the ego became equivalent to the basic, primary, 
psychic self with ' "the archaic inheritance" as its nucleus', and 
was the reservoir of all psychic energies, both libidinal and destruc- 
tive. Now, in The Ego and The Id, Freud abandons that view 
and reverts to a more restricted theory of the ego as simply that 
part of the primary self (which is now called the 'id') which is 
moulded and shaped by the pressures and demands of the im- 
mediate (family, parental) environment into conformity to its 
requirements, while it still remains exposed, naturally, to the other 
and internal pressures of the repressed parts of the primary self. 
This use of the term 'ego' in conjunction with the correlated term 
'id' is hardly satisfactory, since it implies a denial of 'ego-quality' 
to the repressed parts of the self which become an impersonal 'it', 
while at the same time it denudes the ego of any real energy of its 
own. It would be legitimate to employ two terms, 'self' and 'ego', 
and to use the term 'self for the primary, total, 'mental existence', 
while 'ego' stands for the more restricted conscious 'I' that we are 
faimiliar with. We could then speak of the 'self as split into an 
'outer-reality ego' conforming to the pressures of the outer environ- 
ment, and an 'inner-reality ego' owning the basic libidinal needs 
and drives that the child has had to repress (say in solving the 
Oedipus conflict problem, and/or conflicts over earlier anal and 
oral functioning). But where is the justification for depersonalizing 
the latter into an 'id', if the terms 'ego' or 'self are adequate to 
cover all the phenomena as the concept of 'ego splitting' suggests. 
All psychic phenomena whatsoever are, and should be treated as, 


manifestations of the fundamental psychosomatic unity or basic 
self which loses its functional unity early by encountering mutually 
incompatible experiences of its object-world. Structural differen- 
tiation takes the form, as Freud showed, of ego-splitting. The 
basic self comes to be both for and against its own primary needs 
and the quest for their satisfaction. It develops out of its primary 
unity secondary selves which function antagonistically towards 
one another. But each of these structural differentiations retains 
the quality of a self or ego and unless the same term is used for 
the original unitary self and the secondary selves into which it 
comes to be differentiated, the personal quality of all the resulting 
phenomena is obscured, most of all by adopting such terms as 'id' 
and 'ego' set in opposition to each other. To depersonalize psychic 
phenomena is to alter the data we are studying. 

That, however, is what Freud chose finally to do by restricting 
the term 'ego' to apply to the ordinary self of everyday life from 
which the 'repressed unconscious' is excluded. Repression was re- 
garded as thrusting impulses which were operative in the conscious 
ego back into an instinctive unconscious regarded as prepersonal 
or impersonal. The ^o is 'the part of the id that is modified by the 
influence of the perceptual system, the representative in the mind 
of the real external world'. (1923a, p. 34.) To make it clear that 
he now no longer regarded the ego as including or as identical 
with the primary nature of the individual, he stated explicitly : 
{a) 'Some earlier suggestions about a "nucleus of the ego", never 
very definitely formulated, require to be put right, since the system 
Pcpt-Cs alone can be regarded as the nucleus of the ego.' (1923a, 
pp. 34-5, footnote 2.) This rules out the 'archaic inheritance' of 
the mind as the nucleus of the ego, and restricts 'ego' to that part 
of the mind which is fashioned into conformity to the demands of 
the outer world. How unsatisfactory this is from a clinical point 
of view can be seen from the remark of one of my patients who 
said : 'I feel I have grown up to be an outer shell of conformities 
and I've lost touch with the real "me" inside.' Her 'outer shell of 
conformities' is Freud's 'ego' and she evidently felt that it had 
much less right to the title 'ego' than the dynamic, 'instinctive' 
part of herself which she had been forced to repress and had lost 
contact with, {b) 'Now that we have distinguished between the 
ego and the id, we must recognize the id as the great reservoir of 
libido mentioned in my introductory paper on narcissism.' (1923a, 
p. 38, footnote.) He thus explicity divorces the ^o as a psychic 
structure from the sources of psychic energy which are relegated 
to the position of a non-ego, an impersonal 'id'. 


In every individual there is a coherent organization of mental 
processes, which we call his ego. This ego includes consciousness and 
it controls the approaches to motility, i.e. to the discharge of ex- 
citations into the external world; it is this institution in the mind 
which regulates all its own constituent processes, and which goes to 
sleep at night, though even then it continues to exercise a censorship 
upon dreams. From this ego proceed the repressions, too, by means 
of which an attempt is made to cut off certain trends in the mind not 
merely from consciousness but also from their other forms of mani- 
festation and activity. In analysis these trends which have been shut 
out stand in opposition to the ego and the analysis is faced with the 
task of removing the resistance which the ego displays against con- 
cerning itself with the repressed. (1923a, pp. 15-16.) 

He replaces the antithesis between the conscious and the uncon- 
scious by 'the antithesis between the organized ego and what is 
repressed and dissociated from it'. (1923a, p. 17.) There can be 
no question as to the existence, and nature as Freud describes it, 
of that structural differentiation in the mind which he terms 'ego'. 
The only question, and it is one of fundamental importance for 
the theory of 'personality', is whether it has the exclusive right 
to the term 'ego' which Freud gives it. 

Since, however, 'resistances emanate from the ego' (1923a, p. 
16), and resistances work unconsciously, Freud was faced with 
the fact that part of the ego is unconscious though not repressed. 
To solve that problem he delved deeper into the question of mental 
structure. The way a problem is defined reveals the preconceptions 
of the investigator and influences his findings. Freud defined his 
problem as that of accounting for the fact that resistances are un- 
conscious and yet also emanate from the ego. This was a problem 
to him because he assumed that the ego is not repressed. Indeed, 
the Freudian ego is by definition not repressed. Those aspects of 
the ego which are not in consciousness are preconscious but not 
repressed unconscious. But resistances are not preconscious, so the 
problem arises 'Can there be an unconscious that is not repressed?' 

Clearly an alternative question can be asked. Does not the defini- 
tion of 'ego' as 'not repressed' beg the important question as to 
whether part of the ego can after all be split off and repressed so 
cis to become the source of unconscious resistances? The time, 
however, was not ripe for the asking of that question, which in the 
early 1920s would not have seemed psycho-analytically mean- 
ingful. Freud's own pioneer solution to the problem prepared the 
way for it to be restated later in that form. Freud's solution was 
determined by his view that the repressed unconscious was non-ego 


material, an impersonal id, raw impulse and emotion, and that 
the ego was constituted solely by what was non-repressed material. 
Thus the fact that resistances came from the ego so that they 
could not be regarded as repressed, and yet also operated uncon- 
sciously, compelled him to postulate a third aspect of endopsychic 
structure which was neither id nor ego. He decided that this must 
be 'a differentiating grade of the ego' (1923a, p. 34. Also 1921, p. 
1 03), or a 'modification of the ego' which 'retains its special posi- 
tion' (p. 44) by virtue of its early origin and peculiar importance. 
He called it at first 'The Ego Ideal' and finally the 'Super-ego'. 

This special differentiation of the ego comes about as a result 
of early identifications with parents, and predominantly, Freud 
believed, the father. He writes : 

The character of the ego is a precipitate of abandoned object- 
cathexes and . . . contains a record of past object-choices. 

The effects of the first identifications in earliest childhood will be 
profound and lasting. This leads us back to the origin of the ego- 
ideal; for behind [it] there lies hidden the first and more important 
identification of all, the identification with the father. (Footnote. 
Perhaps it would be safer to say 'wjth the parents'.) (1923, pp. 36 
and 39.) 

The mastering of the Oedipus complex is achieved by giving up 
the ambivalent object-relationship to parents under pressure from 
them, and turning object-cathexes of parents into identifications 
with them. 

The broad general outcome of the sexual phase governed by the 
Oedipus Complex may, therefore, be taken to be the forming of a 
precipitate in the ego, consisting of these two identifications (i.e. the 
father-identification and the mother-identification) in some way com- 
bined together. This modification of the ego retains its special posi- 
tion : it stands in contrast with the other constituents of the ego in 
the form of an ego-ideal or super-ego. The super-ego is, however, not 
merely a deposit left by the earliest object-choices of the id; it also 
represents an energetic reaction-formation against those choices. 
(1923a, p. 44.) 

The parents, and especially the father, were perceived as the 
obstacle to the realization of the Oedipus wishes; so the child's ego 
brought in a reinforcement to help in carrying out the repression by 
erecting this same obstacle within itself. The strength to do this was, 
so to speak, borrowed from the father. . . . The super-ego retains the 
character of the father, while the more intense the Oedipus complex 


was . . . the more exacting later on is the domination of the super-ego 
over the ego — in the form of conscience or perhaps of an unconscious 
sense of guilt. ( 1 923a, p. 45.) 

Thus the super-ego directs and reinforces the resistance of the ego 
against repressed Oedipal impulses seeking to re-emei^e from the 
id, or the repressed unconscious. The fact that super-ego resistance 
is itself largely unconscious is explained as due to the fact that it is 
specially closely related to those repressed unconscious instinctive 
trends of the id. 

The very free communication possible between the ideal and these 
unconscious instinctual trends explains how it is that the ideal itself 
can be to a great extent unconscious and inaccessible to the ego. The 
struggle which once raged in the deepest strata of the mind ... is 
now carried on in a higher region [i.e. the super-ego]. (1923a, p. 53.) 

The super-ego thus remains largely tied to these unconscious 
depths. This, however, is rather a statement of the reason than of 
the mechanism of the unconsciousness of part of the super-ego, 
and does not settle the question of whether part of the super-ego 
is unconscious by repression or by some other means. It is clear 
that this first theory of psychic structure leaves many problems 
unresolved. These may be summarized as {a) the impersonal, non- 
sgo character attributed to the instinctive basis of psychic life, the 
id, {b) the Kmitation of the term 'ego' to the familiar ego of con- 
sciousness, and [c) a vague and unclarified dualism in the super- 
ego which has a more conscious aspect (the ego-ideal) and an im- 
:onscious part (the super-ego). Freud's penetrating analysis of 
tructure must be seen as the pioneer effort opening the way to 
loser analysis. This could not be carried out untU the concept 
>f 'the internal psychic object' had been fully elaborated. Yet this 
vas itself a development of Freud's concept of the super-ego as 
>arents 'brought in' and 'erected within' the ego as a 'reinforce- 
nent' in the task of 'repression', (i 923a, p. 45.) 

In Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926) the repercussions 
f Freud's ego-analysis on other aspects of theory begin to appear, 
rst of all in a re-analysis of the problem of anxiety. He writes : 

Formerly I regarded anxiety as a general reaction of the ego to 
JDnditions of unpleasure. ... I assumed . . . that libido (sexual ex- 
-tement) which was rejected or not utilized by the ego found direct 
iischarge in the form of anxiety. It cannot be denied that these 
jirious assertions did not go very well together, or at any rate did not 
nply one another. (1926, p. 150.) 


Anxiety was explained thus on biochemical and instinctive lines : 
sexual libido, when frustrated and dammed up in the organism 
with no discharge, turns into anxiety. When Freud brought the 
ego to the forefront he saw anxiety as the reaction of the ego to 
danger of either external or internal origin, and traced its evolu- 
tion from birth-anxiety (as the anxiety prototype), through anxiety 
over the loss of the object (the breast, the mother) and loss of 
love, to its socialized form in super-ego anxiety, guilt and fear of 
social disapproval, rejection and punishment, especially in its 
internalized form. 

The objection to (the earlier view) arose from our coming to regard 
the ego as the sole seat of anxiety. It was one of the results of the 
attempt to subdivide the mental apparatus which I made in The Ego 
and The Id. ... It is a question of id-anxiety (instinctual anxiety) 
versus ego anxiety. ( 1 926, p. 1 5 1 .) 

It is also a question of a basically physiological explanation of 
anxiety versus a psychological one. These alternatives face us 
again with the question of whether it is a psychological fact that 
an instinctive and impersonal (depersonalized) part of the psyche 
can be distinguished from the ego. If we take, instead, the view 
that the total psyche is basically personal, that that is its essential 
nature which awaits development after birth, then the division 
Freud made will be seen not as a marking ofT of an impersonal id 
from an ego, but as a case of ego-spUtting. He writes : 

Since the energy which the ego employed is desexualized, the new 
view tended to weaken the close connection between anxiety and 
libido. (1926, p. 151.) 

If, however, we regard Freud's division as representing a splitting 
of the ego into two egos, one of which remains sexual and libidinal 
and repressed, the other being desexualized and not repressed, 
then there is no need to give up the close connection between 
anxiety and libido. It is true, we shall not say that libido is trans- 
formed directly into anxiety. But we can say that the sexual ego 
in the unconscious experiences anxiety over the frustration of its 
libidinal aims, while a second development of anxiety would come 
about in the desexualized conscious ego over the threatened 
eruption of frustrated libido. It is still true, as Freud said, thali 
anxiety is an ego-function, a reaction of the ego to danger. In thej 
form in which he stated it, his new view implies that it is only ai 
desexualized ego that experiences anxiety. The close connectior; 
between frustrated libido and anxiety is retained if, instead oni 
saving that impersonal libido is transformed into anxiety we shal 


say that a libidinal, sexual ego experiences anxiety over the danger 
of the frustration of needs and aims. This also accounts for un- 
conscious, repressed anxiety and ultimately for unconscious, re- 
pressed guilt. Freud's view that 'Anxiety is an affective state and 
as such can, of course, only be felt by the ego' (1926, p. 113) 
abides. But his further statement : 'The id cannot have anxiety as 
the ego can ; for it is not an organization and cannot make a judg- 
ment about a situation of danger' (1926, p. 113), ceases to be 
meaningful. Furthermore, a more intelligible meaning can be 
found in his statement that : 

It is not so much a question of taking back our earlier findings as 
of bringing them into line with more recent discoveries. It is still an 
undeniable fact that in sexual abstinence, improper interference with 
the processes of sexual excitation or deflection of the latter from its 
psychological modification, anxiety arises directly out of libido. 
(1926, p. 114.) 

We would, however, rather say that 'anxiety arises directly out 
of the repressed sexual ego owing to the frustration of its libidinal 

Nevertheless, Freud's new theory of anxiety is much more 
illuminating for 'personality- theory', and it was an indication that 
his new development of an ego-psychology had started a process 
of liberating psycho-analysis from an excessive psychobiological 
bias, and of re-orientating it in the direction of a psychological 
theory of personality. However much the ego may be explained 
by Freud theoretically as formed on the surface of the id for the 
purposes of adaptation to external reality while all dynamic energy 
remains the property of id-impulses, in practice the ^o is now 
seen to function as a definite powerful 'person'. Freud is aware of 
this and writes : 

Just as the ego controls the path to action in regard to the outer 
world, so it controls access to consciousness. In repression it displays 
its powers in both directions. ... At this point it is relevant to ask 
how I can reconcile this acknowledgment of the might of the ego 
with the description of its position which I gave in The Ego and The 
Id. In that book I drew a picture of its dependence on the id and 
upon the super-ego which revealed how powerless and apprehensive 
it was in regard to both and with what an effort it maintained its 
superiority over them. This view has been widely echoed in psycho- 
analytic literature. A great deal of stress has been laid on the weak- 
ness of the ego in relation to the id and of our rational elements in 
the face of the daemonic forces within us : and there is a strong 


tendency to make what I have said into a foundation-stone of a 
psycho-analytic Weltanschauung. Yet surely the psycho-analyst, with 
his knowledge of the way in which repression works, should, of all 
people, be restrained from adopting such extreme and one-sided 
views. (1926, pp. 28-9.) 

Here, truly, is a reprieve for and a reinstatement of the ego of 
ordinary consciousness to a position of dignity from which Freud's 
earlier, biologically-orientated, instinct-theory threatened to de- 
throne it. 

A further result is the renewed emphasis on character-analysis. 
In an appendix on Resistance and Anti-Cat he xis under the head- 
ing of Modifications of Earlier Views Freud deals with the charac- 
ter-structure of the ego in its aspect of defence against the repressed 
and resistance to therapeutic analysis and change. He gathers up 
previous psycho-analytic observations on these matters and paves 
the way for the later systematic investigations of Anna Freud and 
W. Reich (1935-6). The study of the ego as a dynamic source of 
resistance again makes towards a less impersonal orientation of 

One extremely interesting passage contains a clear prophecy of 
the developments of 'internal objects' theory that were to come. 
Freud writes : 

There can be no doubt or mistake about this resistance on the part 
of the ego. But we have to ask ourselves whether it covers the whole 
state of affairs in analysis. For we find that even after the ego has 
decided to relinquish its resistance it still has difficulty in undoing the 
repressions; and we have called the period of strenuous effort which 
follows after its praiseworthy decision, the phase of 'working 
through'. The dynamic factor which makes a working through of 
this kind necessary and comprehensible is not far to seek. It must he 
that after the ego -resistance has been removed the power of the 
re petition- com pulsion — the attracion exerted by the unconscious 
prototypes upon the repressed instinctual process — has yet to be 
overcome. [Present writer's italics.] This factor might well be de- 
scribed as the resistance of the unconscious. There is no need to be 
discouraged by these emendations in our theory. They are to be 
welcomed if they do something towards furthering our knowledge, 
and they are no disgrace to us so long as they enrich rather than 

invalidate our earlier views. (1926, p. 148.) 


More radical emendations than Freud realized have proved essen- 
tial on some fundamental matters, yet it was Freud himself who 
pointed the way, and certainly it is true that they have enriched 


and not invalidated his basic psycho-analytical approach to 
human nature. The 'unconscious prototypes' which attract the 
^repressed instinctual process', so creating a 'resistance of the un- 
conscious', are surely an adumbration of the theory of 'internal 
objects' and of repressed ego-object relations in the unconscious 
inner world. Likewise the 'resistance of the super-ego' to which 
Freud refers is also a resistance coming not primarily from the ego 
but from an internal object (with which, it is true, the ego comes 
to identify itself). That points the same way. The implication of 
Freud's view that id and super-ego as well as ego resist the psycho- 
therapeutic process, necessitates an ultimate theoretical reformu- 
lation of the theory of the unconscious in terms no longer of id- 
instincts solely, but in terms of repressed ego-object relationships. 
Freud did not take this step, but his own work made it necessary 
and inevitable that it should be taken. 

3. Later Orthodox Development of Freud's Structural Theory 

Space forbids a detailed study of later developments of Freud's 
ego^psychology, but we may refer to four contributions : Franz 
Alexander's treatment of the id and super-ego (1925), Anna 
Freud's and W. Reich's development of character-analysis 
(1935-6), a paper on 'Comments on the Formation of Psychic 
Structure' by Hartmann, Kris and Loewenstein (1946), and the 
bearing of Winnicott's recent views. 

{a) The Super-ego and the Id. Alexander made Freud's new 
theory of endopsychic structure the basis of an important paper 
entitled 'A Metapsychological Description of the Process of Cure' 
(1925). He recognized the direct bearing of the new theory on 
psychotherapy, though we are not here concerned with that 
aspect of the paper. He described the super-ego as 'an introjected 
legal code of former days' (p. 22), 'an anachronism' (p. 25), 'a 
boundary-formation' separating the two systems of the ego and 
the id (p. 22) and dividing the mental system into two parts, an 
ego in excellent touch with reahty and an id quite out of touch 
with it (p. 23). Therapeutic endeavour must be directed against 
the super-ego whose prohibitions function blindly and auto- 
matically. Only the ego can remember. The super-ego can only 
repeat. The dissolution of the super-ego is and will continue to be 
the task of all future psycho-analytical therapy. (1925, p. 32.) 

This, however, turns out to be somewhat ambiguous, for he 
adds a very important footnote, which brings out the ambiguity 
and vague dualism of the super-ego concept. He writes : 


The foregoing concept of the super-ego has been somewhat 
schematic and therefore more narrowly defined than in Freud's 
descriptions. / limit the super-ego to the unconscious alone. Hence it 
became identical with the unconscious sense of guilt, with the dream 
censorship. The transition to conscious demands, to a conscious ego- 
ideal, is nevertheless in reality a fluid one. [Present writer's italics.] 
We might regard those parts of the super-ego which project into 
consciousness as the most recent and final imprints in the structure 
of it. . . . They are not so fixed as the categorical unconscious con- 
stituents of the conscience, and are more accessible to conscious judg- 
ment. . . . Freud's conception and description, which takes into 
account the complete *super-ego' system, is nevertheless the more 

correct psychologically. (1925, pp. 32-3.) 

In 1930 in his book The Psycho-Analysis of the Total Personality 
he made a definite distinction between the entirely unconscious 
super-ego and the conscious ego-ideal. The latter comprised the 
consciously held values acquired in later life by which conduct 
is guided in outer contemporary reality. The former is primitive, 
created in the infancy period, and is likened by him to a set of 
automatic conditioned reflexes which inhibit primary anti-social 
impulses of cannibalism, incest and murder. He held to that view 
still in a paper, 'Development of the Ego-Psychology', in the 
volume Psycho-Analysis To-day. (Lorand, 1948.) In Funda- 
mentals of Psycho-Analysis (1949), however, he writes : 

I question to-day whether such a rigid structural distinction is 
possible. In the normal individual most of the early regulations are 
slowly modified by later influences. ... It appears more convenient 
to distinguish diff'erent functions of the mind than to divide it into 
air-tight compartments. . . . The notion of the id, as originally 
defined, is problematical. Strictly speaking, a completely unor- 
ganized, inherited mass of instinctual urges is not found even at birth. 
Learning . . . starts immediately with birth, and it is therefore difficult 
to see at what period the sharp distinction between an unorganized 
id and an organized ego obtains. (1949, p. 83.) 

This is a realistic approach and shows how the need to modify 
Freud's original conceptions of structure have arisen. However, 
repression does in fact create something like 'airtight compart- 
ments', and while it is a move in the right direction to drop the 
distinction between an inherited id and a psychologically de- 
veloped ego as separate structures, or rather as energy and struc- 
ture in separation, it is not similarly valuable to drop the distinc- 
tion between an unconscious super-ego and a conscious ego-ideal. 


There is a problem here for which Alexander did not find a solu- 
tion. He had recognized the unsatisfactory complexity of the 
*super-ego' concept. He wrote in 1944 : 

It seems to me questionable whether we should consider the ego- 
ideal more closely connected with the super-ego, as its continuation 
in consciousness, or more allied to the actual ego. (Lorand, 1948, p. 


Undoubtedly the latter alternative is the correct one, but his 
orthodox theory of psychic structure confused the issue. At that 
date he described the id as 'the inherited reservoir of chaotic in- 
stinctual demands which are not yet in harmony with each other 
[and] called, on account of its impersonal nature, the id (p. 1 46). 
He thus related and opposed the super-ego (representing the 
parents of infancy) to an impersonal congeries of isolated instinc- 
tive drives, while on the other hand he relates the ego-ideal 
hesitandy (representing later social reality) to the Freudian ego. 
He makes no use of Melanie KLlein's distinction between persecu- 
tory and depressive anxiety and her concept of the early sadistic 
super-ego. This would make it possible to present a view of an 
internal unconscious (repressed) object-relation between infantile 
parental imagos and an infantile sexual ego on a primitive emo- 
tional level, as distinct from a non-repressed object-relation 
between the post-Oedipal ego of everyday conscious life and outer 
reality on a developed moral level. The problem is not solved in 
the orthodox theory and the super-ego remains an ambiguous 

One difficulty for Alexander arises from the fact that he regards 
the super-ego as basically and all through a moral phenomenon. 
It is conscience, in the fear of which our childhood fear of our 
parents is embodied ; and its function is to adjust us to society and 
to the rights of others, and enforce the social code. However, the 
properly moral motive is not fear but an understanding and sym- 
pathetic regard for other people. Alexander says that but for the 
super-ego every citizen would need a policeman at his side all the 
time (Lorand, 1948, p. 144), but those who do right only through 
fear of punishment are not regarded as moral people and it does 
not make any difference in principle when the punitive retaliator 
and the fear of him are wholly internal phenomena. When he 

The super-ego, in a fully developed personality, has lost its con- 
nection with external reality. It is more or less rigid and has sunk to 


the depths of the personality. It is consequently to a high degree un- 
conscious. (Lorand, 1948, p. 145), 

he makes it clear that this bottom layer of the total 'super-ego' is 
not a moral function, but a survival of the primitive fear of the 
infant who has not reached the moral level of development. This 
coincides with the discovery of Melanie Klein, namely, that the 
farther back we trace the 'super-ego', the more cruel, sadistic and 
persecutory it is. That the super-ego is not necessarily basically 
moral should be clear from the fact that it is possible for it to arise 
in the first place from the introjection of absolutely immoral or 
non-moral parents who are merely regarded with terror because 
they are overwhelmingly powerful. A suicidal patient of mine had 
a self -hating and self -destructive 'super-ego' based on the internal- 
ization of a mother who not only beat her throughout her whole 
childhood but on one or two occasions burned and scalded her 
deliberately to break her will and reduce her to abject submission. 
Even apart from such real bad objects, the baby's perception of 
his objects is so coloured by his own violent emotions through 
projection that he builds up phantasied monsters who never had 
any existence as such in real life, yet who form the hard core of his 
primitive sadistic super-ego. The deepest strata of the super-ego 
have this non-moral or pre-moral character of being merely perse- 

Yet the more usual and obvious manifestation of the super-ego 
is taken to be guilt, albeit it is a guilt that masks primitive terror. 
Alexander might have cut the Gordian knot of the problem had 
he reahzed that he was differentiating the pre-moral and the moral 
levels of development. Freud gives \n an ant for this since he re- 
gards the 'moral super-ego' as a post-Oedipal phenomenon. This, 
however, must really be the ego-ideal, beneath which an earlier, 
non-moral and sadistic suj>er-ego lies hidden, a very primitive 
structure which has lost contact with outer reality in a way that 
the ego-ideal has not. The term 'super-ego' evidently covers at 
least two different sets of facts and is applied indiscriminatelv 
to two distinguishable psychic structures. It is not possible to trea 
the super-ego as a moral conscience, then to separate off the onl) 
really moral part of it as the ego-ideal, and elect to treat th( 
primitive remainder as the super-ego proper while still treating i 
as a moral function creating unconscious guilt. As we shall see 
Melanie Klein does the same thing when she treats her earl)i 
sadistic internal bad objects as a super-ego, and carries the 
Freudian Oedipus situation back, by means of it, into the first 
year of life, a view that many analysts have not agreed with. Th( 


dilemma can be avoided only by distinguishing a pre-moral from 
a moral level of development (a pre-Oedipal from an Oedipal 
level). We have been somewhat forced to anticipate later chapters 
in order to complete to some extent the discussion of this question, 
but it is important at this stage to indicate the unsolved problems 
that Freud's scheme of psychic structure left to the future. 

(b) Ego- Analysis. W. Reich and Anna Freud. Freud's scheme 
of psychic structure had the effect of directing attention not only 
to the new theory of the super-ego, but also to the detailed study 
of the now more closely defined ego. In fact, we can now see that 
a far-reaching reorientation of the entire theoretical approach had 
slowly and almost invisibly begun to take place. The psychothera- 
peutic interest very much dominated this steadily increasing con- 
cern with the analysis of the ego. This is particularly apparent 
from the two important books of the middle 1930s, Character 
Analysis (1935) by Wilhelm Reich and The Ego and the Mechan- 
isms of Defence (1936) by Anna Freud. Reich's book was more 
especially concerned with the technique of psychotherapeutic 
analysis, and he emphasized the uselessness of attempting to by- 
pass ego-defences and go straight to the deep infantile unconscious. 
It had come to be understood that the tendency of inexperienced 
analysts, and still more of those who tried to practise analysis 
without specific training and on the basis of book knowledge only, 
to rush into premature 'interpretations in depth' before the patient 
was ready to assimilate these, led to no therapeutic result. Instead 
it led to what Freud called the co-existence in the mind of two 
versions of the neurosis at the same time without their meeting or 
in any way mutually influencing each other, an intellectual 
version in the conscious mind, and a repressed emotional version 
which was the real neurosis in the unconscious. 

Thus Wilhelm Reich dealt with neurotic character traits as 
forming a compact defence mechanism against both the outer 
world and the pressure of internal libidinal needs. This 'character 
armor' as he called it binds anxiety and it blocks every effort to 
bring about psychotherapeutic changes. Thus it becomes impera- 
tive, in order to open the way for therapeutic analysis into the 
deep unconscious, to analyse the character-structure of the ego 
which Freud held to be the source of repression and therefore of 
resistances to treatment. Reich stressed the importance of those 
resistances which had become congealed in the patient's habitual 
manners and posture, so that the peculiar and individual way in 
which a patient says and does things is as important and revealing 
as the actual content of what he says and does. He also made a 


special study of certain general 'character forms', such as the 
hysterical, compulsive, phallic-narcissistic, and the masochistic 
characters. The formation and structure of the neurotic characters 
is quite different from that of healthy-minded persons who are 
capable of normal activities and human relationships. He com- 
pares the mature character, which he calls the 'genital character', 
with the neurotic character as ideal types, and points out that all 
real characters are mixtures of the two. 

He did not critically examine but rather expounded Freud's 
id-ego-super ego scheme of psychic structure from the above point 
of view. The id of the neurotic character appears largely in the 
form of unresolved Oedipal impulses of the incest wish for the 
parent of the opposite sex and aggression against the parent of the 
same sex ; the super-ego of the neurotic he holds to be simply 'sex- 
negative' and sadistic, enforcing impotence and turning social 
achievement into little more than an attempt to over-compensate 
and find some proof of potency. The ego of the neurotic is doubly 
paralysed by impotence and inferiority feelings. In the mature, or 
as he calls it the genital, character, the ego does not have to defend 
itself against the id and the super-ego. This absence of internal 
division means that the ego has at its disposal all the energies it 
needs for genuine love and work, resulting in a capacity for true 

By contrast, in the neurotic character the ego is severely limited 
and subject to serious inhibitions. It is guilt-ridden, subject to in- 
fantile impulses which naturally are inappropriate in real life, and 
it is therefore much more liable to feel 'unpleasure' than 'pleasure'. 
In short the neurotic character is quite unable to experience life 
fully and freely and naturally. Thus Reich gives general charac- 
terizations of the ego in its defensive operations. 

We may make two comments on Reich's exposition. Firstly, he 
brings out clearly the double purp>ose of the character-structure of 
the Freudian conscious ego. It faces two ways, outwards and in- 
wards. Its external function is that of adaptation to environmental 
material reality. The individusJ has, when all is said and done, got 
to live in the real world outside himself. Its internal function is 
that of defence against the eruption of disturbed internal psychic 
reality. But Reich, true to the dominant psycho-analytical trend, 
only saw the ego's external function as the negative one of defence 
against the impact of stimuli, not as a positive quest for meaning- 
ful relationships. Secondly, he reaffirms the classic psycho-analytic 
theory that the sole source of trouble is libidinal and sadistic drives, 
so that all forms of fear are secondary phenomena. This view we 
shall ultimately see reason to reject, though it is still maintained, 


even by writers in other respects so divergent as Anna Freud and 
Melanie Klein, as the unquestioned basic psycho-analytic theory. 
Anna Freud maJces a more specific analysis of the particular 
major defensive operations or so-called 'mechanisms' of the ego. 
Her book is more oriented to theoretical considerations. In The 
Ego and The Mechanisms of Defence she states that : 

Analytical theory has ceased to hold that the concept of the ego 
is identical with that of the system of perceptual consciousness; that 
is to say, we have realized that large portions of the ego-institutions 
are themselves unconscious and require the help of analysis in order 
to become conscious. The result is that analysis of the ego has 
assumed a much greater importance in, our eyes. Anything which 
comes into the analysis from the side of the ego is just as good 
material as an id-derivative. . . . But of course anything which comes 
from the ego is also a resistance in every sense of the word : a force 
directed against the emerging of the unconscious and so against the 
working of the analysis. (1936, p. 26.) 

Thus the e^o has two facets, one is that of the perceptual system 
of knowledge of the outer world as the basis of adjustment to outer 
reality, the other is that of the system of ego-defences against the 
inner world of the unconscious. The defences are themselves un- 

All the defensive measures of the ego against the id are carried out 
silently and invisibly. The most that we can ever do is to reconstruct 
them in retrospect : we can never really witness them in operation. 
This statement applies, for instance, to successful repression. The 
ego knows nothing of it; we are aware of it only subsequently when 
it becomes apparent that something is missing (p. 10). 

It is the analyst's business first of all to recognize the defence- 
mechanism. When he has done this, he has accomplished a piece of 
ego-analysis (p. 15). 

While id-derivatives can be observed directly as actual emotions 
and impulses emerging into consciousness, the ego's defensive 
activities can be inferred only from results or when a conflict 
between the id and the ego has become conscious. 

Whenever the interpretation touches on the unknown elements of 
the ego, its activities in the past, that ego is wholly opposed to the 
work of analysis. Here evidently we have the situation which we com- 
monly describe by the not very felicitous term 'character-analysis' 
(p. 22). 


Anna Freud regards the analysis of the ego as technically more 
difficult than that of the id, since, according to the classic theory, 
it is the source of resistance to the unconscious and to all attempts 
to make it conscious. To use W. Reich's term, character is the 
ego's defensive armour against the repressed and is constituted by 
the system of ego-defences. Freud, however, opened up a wider 
problem of resistance when, in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety 
(1926, p. 148), he spoke of 'the resistance of the unconscious'. This, 
we have seen reason to think, should also be regarded as an ego- 
resistance, though not in Anna Freud's sense of either 'ego' or 
'resistance'. Freud explained it as due to the 'power of the repeti- 
tion-compulsion — the attraction exerted by the unconscious proto- 
types upon the instinctual process', a fact which Fairbairn re- 
interprets as a case of the Ubidinal cathexis of an internal bad 
object on the part of a repressed portion of the ego. (1952, pp. 
72 ff.) The earliest resistances to be discovered reflected the ego's 
rejection of 'the repressed'. Here is a deeper resistance reflecting 
an attachment to 'the repressed', what Freud called an 'adhesive- 
ness of the libido'. (1937, C,P., V, p. 344.) This serves again to 
remind us of unsolved problems in the classic id-ego-super ego 

Anna Freud lists the ten stock methods of defence known to 
analysts, as regression, repression, reaction-formation, isolation, 
undoing, projection, introjection, turning against the self, reversal, J 
and sublimation or displacement of instinctive aims. These de- 

meet our eyes in a state of petrifaction when we analyse the per- 
manent *armour-plating of character', [i.e. rigidities of posture, man- 
nerism, etc.] We come across them, on a larger scale and again in a 
state of fixation, when we study the formation of neurotic symptoms 

(p- 36). 

Thus different neuroses have their respective characteristic de- 
fences, such as repression in hysteria, and isolation and undoing 
in obsessional neurosis. Anxiety is the motive of the ego's defence 
against the dangers of instinct; in adult neurosis this takes the; 
form of super-ego anxiety or fear of guilt and condemnation by 
the super-ego, in infantile neurosis it is objective anxiety or fear 
of punishment by parents and other actual outer real figures, while ' 
in times of critical and rapid internal change, as in infancy, ; 
adolescence and the climacteric, instinctive anxiety or fear of the 
strength of instincts arises. Ultimately all fear of instincts, however, 
is due to fear of the outside world and its hostile reactions to their 
active quest for gratification. 


Under the heading of 'Preliminary Stages of Defence' by avoid- 
ance of panic and danger, Anna Freud discusses the denial of 
intolerable realities by phantasy, word, or act, and restriction of 
the ego. 'Identification with the aggressor' is a 'preliminary phase 
of super-ego development, and an intermediate stage in the 
development of paranoia' (p. 129). It is a combination of intro- 
jection or internalizing the external criticism and threat of punish- 
ment, and projection or externalizing the offence and the guilt, so 
turning the tables. (This is usually followed, at the instance of 
anxiety, by 'identification with the object of one's own aggres- 
sion'.) An important defence against super-ego anxiety is to de- 
velop a form of altruism in which one's own wishes are made over 
to other people and one becomes devoted to getting gratifications 
for others instead of oneself. Finally, asceticism and intellectual- 
ization are discussed as ego-defences in adolescence against the 
increased strength of instincts. 

In this valuable development of ego-analysis, one thing stands 
out as a striking result of founding clinical theory upon a theory 
of instincts, namely the underlying assumption that the cause of 
trouble is to be found in instincts per se. It is implied that it is the 
natural, healthy, normal functioning of instincts that calls out from 
the ego such elaborate systems of defences. Anna Freud treats the 
antagonism of the id and the ego as inevitable, and does not raise 
the question of the possible harmonious development of the in- 
dividual's basic naaire; in fact she seems distinctly pessimistic 
about any such possibility (cf. pp. 60-4), since the ultimate source 
of trouble is held to be fear of the strength of instincts rather than 
of opposition to their gratification by the outer world. Why should 
the ego fear the strength of instincts even when that is increased 
at puberty? This is a natural de\'elopment in the growth of 'the 
whole man' and it is not proved that the disturbances that so 
frequently accompany adolescence are an innate inevitability. 
There are relatively undisturbed adolescents and cultural differ- 
ences in this respect are marked. Disturbance seems to be more 
due to a revival of infancy troubles than to inherent necessity for 
adolescence to be a period of 'stuim und drang'. The real problem 
as to whether trouble is due to healthy or unhealthy and neurotic 
instinctive drives is passed over. 

Thus, about the same time as Anna Freud's book, Freud him- 
self wrote in 1937, in the paper on Analysis, Terminable and Inter- 
minable. (CP., V, p. 331-2.) 

The quantitative factor of instinctual strength in the past opposed 
the efforts of the patient's ego to defend itself, and now that analysis 


has been called in to help, that same factor sets a limit to the efficacy 
of this new attempt. If the instincts are excessively strong the ego 
fails in its task. . . . We shall achieve our therapeutic purpose only 
when we can give a greater measure of analytic help to the patient's 

Here Freud states that what is to be feared is the innate strength of 
instinctive drives as a fixed factor. It is not discussed whether this 
dangerous quantitative strength of instincts may be due rather to 
that internalization of frustration and over-stimulation which con- 
stitutes the neurosis. Anna Freud writes : 

On their way to gratification the id-impulses must pass through 
the territory of the ego and here they are in an alien atmosphere . . . 
the instinctual impulses can no longer seek gratification without more 
ado — they are required to respect the demands of reality and, more 
than that, to conform to ethical and moral laws by which the super- 
ego seeks to control the behaviour of the ego. Hence these impulses 
run the risk of incurring the displeasure of institutions essentially 
alien to them. They are exposed to criticism and rejection and have 
to submit to every kind of modification. Peaceful relations between 
the neighbouring powers are at an end. The instinctual impulses 
continue to pursue their aims with their own peculiar tenacity and 
energy, and they make hostile incursions into the ego, in the hope of 
overthrowing it by a surprise-attack. The ego on its side becomes 
suspicious; it proceeds to counter-attack and to invade the territory 
of the id. Its purpose is to put the instincts permanently out of action 
by means of appropriate defensive measures, designed to secure its 
own boundaries (pp. 7-8). 

Evidently these 'undistorted id-impulses, which become subject to 
a censorship on the part of the adult ego' (p. 20), are regarded as 
representing an instinctive endowment in the human being which 
is essentially both ego-alien and opf>osed by the super-ego, since 
the Freudian ego is an institution formed on the basis of adapta- 
tion and conformation to outer reality. If, however, the id is the 
primary nature of the human being, it would be healthy in itself 
prior to any disturbed functioning forced on it by the environ- 
ment. In that case instinctive drives would become dangerous and 
to be feared only in so far as the child's nature is not understood 
or tolerated by the environment. The fear of the innate strength 
of instincts and the hostility of the id and the ego are thus not 
inevitable, even though in fact to some extent unavoidable. They 
are artifacts arising out of early development in the setting of bad- 
object relationships. This is really implied in the quotation Anna 


Freud makes from her father's book, Inhibitions, Symptoms and 

It may well be that before its sharp cleavage into an ego and an 
id, and before the formation of a super-ego, the mental apparatus 
makes use of different methods of defence from those which it em- 
ploys after it has attained these levels of organization. (A. Freud, p. 
55; S.Freud, pp. 157-8.) 

Before structural differentiation has set in, conflict, in fact, 
can only be with the environment, and it is unsatisfying object- 
relationships that lead to internal structural differentiation. Fear 
of instincts is secondary to fear of objects and comes about through 
instinctive reactions becoming disturbed by frustration. If it were 
possible to have an ideal environment which steered the child 
through the early developmental stages with maximum satisfac- 
tion of healthy needs and a minimum of frustration, there should 
be no inevitable warfcire of ego and super-ego against id. The 
emphasis is shifted from innate instincts to post-natal object- 
relationships. The great danger of the classic instinct-theory Hes 
in the fact that it ol^cures this. It is all too reminiscent of St. Paul's 
theology of a natural and inevitable warfare between the law of 
the mind and the law of the members. Hartmann, Kris and 
Loewenstein say that : 

It seems reasonable to assume that the infant's apparatus of control 
and adjustment are given their best training chances at a distance 
considerably closer to the maximum of indulgence than to that of 
deprivation. (1946, p. 21.) 

Their view confirms that the difficulty about the antagonism of 
the ego to the so-called id is not that of the innate strength of 
instincts but of the practical problem of securing the best con- 
ditions in which the child's nature can develop in a healthy and 
undisturbed way. It seems probable that (i) in infancy natural and 
healthy libidinal needs are felt towards the object and if accepted 
and satisfied cause no trouble, but (2) if they meet wdth denial and 
frustration the libidinal needs become over-intense and greedy 
through lack of satisfaction, and furthermore they fuse with anger 
at the frustrations. As Freud explains, at this stage, 'Under the 
influence of its upbringing, the child's ego accustoms itself to shift 
the scene of the battle from outsde to inside and to master the 
inner danger before it becomes external.' (1937, C.P., V., p. 338.) 
Thus instinctive reactions remain in a disturbed state because 
they are now always confronted with internal frustration, and 
(3) this entire situation, being repressed, sets up the neurotic state 


in which needs can no longer be felt in normal, natural and 
healthy ways. All libidinal needs have become basically greedy 
and angry and therefore antisocial, and they must thenceforth 
be opposed by the ego and the super-ego. All our actual experience 
of human beings both in ourselves and in others is not experience 
of healthy nature but of nature disturbed in varying degrees. Thus 
the analysis of the ego and the question of psychic structure shows 
again the need to reconsider instinct-theory, particularly as it is 
implied in the conceptions of the id, ego and super-ego. 

(c) 'Comments on the Formation of Psychic Structure'. Hart- 
mann, Kris and Loewenstein. (1946, pp. I2ff.) These three writers 
gather up and survey critically from the orthodox standpoint the 
Freudian theory of psychic structure some twenty years after it 
had been propounded. They write : 

Psycho-analytic hypotheses have undergone far-reaching modifica- 
tion in Freud's own work and in that of his earlier collaborators. The 
importance of some of these reformulations was in many instances 
underrated at the time of their publication; and we believe that the 
importance of the most radical and far-sighted ones, suggested by 
Freud in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, has not yet been fully 
appreciated. Briefly, since a structural viewpoint was introduced into 
psycho-analytic thinking, hypotheses previously established must be 
reintegrated. [Present writer's italics.] The task of synchronization is 
larger than it might seem at first (p. 12). 

They point out that 'the concept of a psychic conflict is integral 
to many religious systems and many philosophical doctrines (p. 
1 3). Clinical phenomena suggested to Freud 'that the forces oppos- 
ing each other in typical conflict situations were not grouped at 
random : rattier that the groups of opposing forces possessed an 
inner cohesion or organization' (p. 13). The concepts emerged 
which, in the 1920s, Freud introduced under the names of id, ego 
and super-ego. 

These three psychic substructures or systems are not conceived of 
as independent parts of personality that invariably oppose each other, 
but as three centres of psychic functioning that can be characterized 
according to their developmental level, to the amount of energy in- 
vested in them, and to their demarcation and interdependence at a 
given time (p. 14). 

That is certainly true in intention but we have seen how even \ 
Freud and Anna Freud slipped insensibly into describing the id 
and ego as independent and invariably opposed. These three 
writers define the three structures as follows : 


The functions of the id center around the basic needs of man and 
their striving for gratification. These needs are rooted in instinctual 
drives and their vicissitudes. . . . The functions of the ego center 
around the relation to reality. In this sense, we speak of the ego as of 
a specific organ of adjustment. . . . The functions of the super-ego 
center around moral demands. Self-criticism . . . self-punishment, 
and the formation of ideals, are essential manifestations of the super- 
ego (p. 15)- 

Like Alexander they are critical of the id concept and also remark 
that 'Freud's use of the term [ego] is ambiguous. He uses ego in 
reference to a psychical organization and to the whole person' (p. 
1 6). Where Freud writes : 'The ego presents itself to the super-ego 
as love-object' they would replace the term 'ego' here by the wider 
term 'self' which covers 'the whole j>erson'. By implication since 
'self' includes the id as well as the ego the id is to be recognized 
as personal in quality just as much as the ego. This is further 
implied in their statement : 

Freud speaks of a gradual differentiation of the ego from the id; 
as an end result of this process of differentiation the ego, as a highly 
structured organization, is opposed to the id. Freud's formulation has 
obvious disadvantages. It implies that the infant's equipment at birth 
is part of the id. It seems, however, that the innate apparatus and 
reflexes cannot all be part of the id, in the sense generally accepted 
in psycho-analysis. We suggest a different assumption; namely, that 
of an undifferentiated phase during which both the id and the ego 
are formed. . . . To the degree to which differentiation takes place 
man is equipped with a special organ of adaptation, i.e. with the 
ego . . . the differentiation accounts for the nature of the instinctual 
drives of man, sharply distinguished as they are from animal in- 
stincts. . . . Many manifestations of the id are farther removed from 
reality than any comparable behaviour of animals (p. 19). 

This is strictly in line with Anna Freud's quotation from Freud 
cited on page 1 1 1 . Thus we have the id and the ego as parallel 
differentiations within the primary and at first undifferentiated 
total psychic self, while the id is no longer simple instinct such as 
is found in animals. The id, just as much as the ego, is a product 
of differentiation and development. They further describe the 
differentiation of ego and id as brought about by the infant's 
mixed experience of part deprivation and part gratification. The 
ego is evidently the primary self in so far as it adjusts itself to 
reality by reconcihng itself to deprivation or postponement of satis- 
faction, while the id is that same primary self in so far as it goes on 


demanding gratification. All justification for the continued use of 
the impersonal term id seems to have gone. It is in no sense a mere 
impersonal biological energy. In Freud's sense and scheme, the id 
is not a structure properly speaking, and what it represents can 
only be included in a structural scheme if its proper 'ego' or 
'personal self quality is recognized. It is a libidinal ego, as distinct 
from the Freudian ego which is that part of the primary self 
which is modified to conform to the demands of the environment, 
becoming an 'organ of adaptation'. 

The concept of the super-ego is held by these writers to be 
complex, but in a somewhat different way from that suggested by 
Alexander. They adhere rigidly to Freud's view of the super-ego 
as a specific creation of the Oedipal problem, whose solution it 
marks. It is a rigid structure, highly, if not entirely, resistant to 
later modification. It is a castrator par excellence, the internaliza- 
tion of the hated, feared yet loved father-rival who will allow the 
boy no sexual access to his mother. It is a phallic-phase 

On the other hand they regard morality as having its origins in 
the earlier pre-Oedipal period. The super-ego functions have 'pre- 
cursors' (p. 33) which, like the super-ego, develop on the basis of 
identification with parents, compliance with their demands, guilt 
over failure and the turning of aggression against the self (p. 32). 
Thus the super-ego appears now to be, not the origin of morality, 
but only one, even a very special one, of its later developments at 
the particularly critical Oedipal phase. This complexity is not 
unravelled in detail. Their position seems to be the opposite of that 
taken up by Melanie Klein and Alexander, for whom the origins 
of the moral 'ego-ideal' are later than the formation of a cruel, 
sadistic, castrating super-ego. It is clear that of these three 
Freudian terms, the super-ego is the most unsatisfactory by reason 
of its confusing complexity which stands urgently in need of closer 
analysis on the basis of clinical material. 

We may summarize the problems that have emerged from the 
critical study of the terms id, ego and super-ego from the point of 
view of orthodox writers. 

(i) The term 'id' is impersonal and stands for psychobiological 
energies without organization, while the terms 'ego' and 'super- 
ego' are personal and represent psychic organizations which have 
to borrow their energy from elsewhere. This is not a criticism but 
a statement of the orthodox concepts, yet it is clear that the scheme 
rests on mixed principles of classification. 

(ii) The id cannot be accepted as psychologically primary, 
according to Alexander, and to Hartmann, Kris and Loewenstein. 


It is 35 much the result of differentiation as the ego. They appear, 
rather, as two different aspects of the primary total self, the id 
characterized by libidinal needs (and therefore surely having an 
'ego' or 'self' quality), the ego being characterized by adaptation 
or conformity to outer reality. 

(iii) The super-ego has two recognizably distinct parts or aspects, 
one sadistic and cruelly persecuting and the other moral ; though 
writers differ as to which of the two parts is primary and which 

(d) Winnicott's Views on Mind, The PsycheSoma and Re- 

Two articles by Wirmicott in 1954-5, though not ostensibly a 
reconsideration of the classical theory of psychic structure, in fact 
amount to that. We have already observed that Freud's scheme is 
clearly linked to the traditional tripartite division of man into 
body, mind and spirit — ^i.e. id, ego and super-ego — or instincts, 
the socially functioning person, and conscience. The way in which 
the equating of body and id, mind and ego comes about, is set 
forth in Winnicott's paper on Mind and Its Relation to the 
PsycheSoma. (1958, p. 243.) He writes : 

The mind of an individual . . . specializes out from the psyche- 
soma. The mind does not exist as an entity in the individual's scheme 
of things provided the individual psyche-soma or body scheme has 
come satisfactorily through the very early developmental stages; 
mind is then no more than a special case of the functioning of the 
psyche-soma. In the study of a developing individual the mind will 
often be found to be developing a false entity, and a false localiza- 
tion (p. 201). 

Certain kinds of failure on the part of the mother, especially 
erratic behaviour, produce over-anxiety of the mental functioning. 
Here, in the over-growth of the mental function reactive to erratic 
mothering, we see that there can develop an opposition between the 
mind and the psyche-soma. . . . Clinically this can go along with . . . 
a false personal growth on a compliance basis. . . . The psyche of the 
individual gets 'seduced' away into this mind from the intimate 
relationship which the psyche originally had with the soma. The 
result is a mind psyche, which is pathological (p. 244). 

The original unitary psyche-soma, the primary total self, has 
become differentiated or 'split' into a mind-psyche which is then 
located in the head, and a soma-psyche which is left to reside in 
the body. This is, in fact, a clinical rather than a theoretical 
description of Freud's view of the differentiation of the ego, as an 
adaptive, conforming function, from the id which it is supposed to 


control. Still more closely does it agree with the view of Hartmann, 
Kris and Loewenstein, of a primary undifferentiated phase 
(psyche-soma) out of which the id and the ego are differentiated 
(soma-psyche and mind-psyche). But like Homey, Winnicott 
recognizes that this ego is a pathological false growth, 'a false 
personal growth on a compHance basis'. The same is really implied 
in the view of Hartmann, Kris and Loewenstein of the ego as 'an 
organ of adaptation', for while it cannot be said that adaptation 
to outer reality is in itself pathological, being a necessity, the way 
in which the adapation is in fact made is usually highly patho- 
logical, amounting to a denial and suppression of the infant's own 
proper nature. Thus Winnicott also clearly implies that the' id is 
much closer to the primary psyche-soma, and is in fact much more 
the real stuff of the original, natural self than is this 'mind' or 
conforming ego. In that case the id can no longer be regarded as 
impersonal. The infant comes to be differentiated into a false self 
or ego of a conforming kind and a natural self or ego which is no 
longer accepted and consciously lived, but left in an undeveloped, 
repressed state. 

In his later paper on 'Metapsychological and Clinical Aspects 
of Regression Within the Psycho- Analytical Set-up' (1958, p. 
278), the psyche-soma becomes the 'true self and the 'mind' 
becomes the 'false self. The patient may have a genuine need for 
a therapeutic regression in order to recover contact with his 'true 
self, while the 'false self, with its conforming and adapting, acts 
meanwhile as a 'caretaker self to deal with the outer world, until 
such time as the 'true self has developed in an increasingly realistic 
relationship to the outer world and the 'false self can be sur- 
rendered to the analyst. We are very far here from the Freudian 
concepts of the id and ego, but we are much closer to psychological 
realities. Winnicott has not suggested that his views imply a re- 
vision of the orthodox scheme of psychic structure. Yet clearly the 
psyche-soma is not an impersonal id but the primary, natural self, 
the libidinal psyche, and it is the 'true self with which the patient 
must recover contact ; while the 'mind' or conforming ego cannot 
really be called a reality-ego in the Freudian sense if it is a patho- 
logical false self. Moreover, there is no place in Freud's scheme for 
the concept of a 'true self, for it is certainly neither id nor ego in 
his sense. An impersonal id is not the concept of a 'true self, and 
Freud's concept of the ego does not provide for the recognition of 
the pathological aspect of the 'mind' or 'false self as an ego-growth 
'seduced away' from the soma and opposed to the psyche-soma, 
id or true primary self (unless this be held to be implied in the idea 
that the ego develops on the surface of the id by contact with 


outer reality). Freud's concepts conceal the probability, supported 
by much clinical evidence, of splitting of the original unitary 
psychic self which is the basis of all psychosis and psychoneurosis. 
We may observe that Winnicott's terms 'true self and 'false 
self' are not, strictly speaking, scientific but rather descriptive and 
evaluatory terms. A new terminology is needed to replace the id 
and ego of Freud's scheme, a terminology that does justice to the 
clinical facts set forth by Winnicott. This question of terminology, 
however, takes us into even more fundamental problems. The 
whole question of the nature of psychological enquiry is in fact 
prejudged by the kind of terminology that is regarded as properly 
scientific in this field of study. It is apparent that mixed types of 
terminology are in use in psycho-analysis; according as the in- 
terest of the writer is primarily theoretical and 'metapsycho- 
logicaT on the one hand or clinical on the other, the terminology 
tends to be more impersonal or more personal. Difficulty arises, 
however, because the two different types of terms are so often 
mixed up in illegitimate and confusing ways. The whole question 
of the nature and status of psycho-analysis as science is involved, 
and we must go into the question thoroughly before proceeding to 
post-Freudian developments. 

Chapter VII 



I. Freud's Early Terminology 

Chapters HI and V have raised a problem so fundamental 
to the development of psycho-analytical theory that we must now 
give it particular attention. The work of Marjorie Brierley {Trends 
in Psycho- Analysis, 1951) has introduced specifically into psycho- 
analysis the question of whether its theory should be cast into the 
form of an impersonal theory of mental functioning or a personal 
theory of the active, purposive whole self in its living human 
relationships. Brierley has worked out psycho-analytical theory 
along both lines, as, first, a 'Process Theory', and, secondly, a 
Tersonology'. This is at bottom the problem of whether psycho- 
dynamics is a 'natural science' or whether it calls for a new type 
of theory which can take account of that 'individuality' of the 
human 'person' which is lost in any presentation of 'general laws 
of mental functioning'. Metapsychology is an attempt to present 
psycho-analysis as a natural science. Brierley writes : 

The word 'personology' is borrowed from Smuts as a convenient 
term to distinguish the science of personality from metapsychology. 
Referring to academic psychology, Smuts writes : *. . . The procedure 
of psychology is largely and necessarily analytical and cannot there- - 
fore do justice to Personality in its unique wholeness. For this a new | 
discipline is required, which we have called Personology, and whose 
task it would be to study Personality as a whole and to trace the laws 
and phases of its development in the individual life. . . . Personology 
would study the Personality not as an abstraction or bundle of 
psychological abstractions, but rather as a vital organism, as the 
organic whole which par excellence it is; and such a study should 
lead to the formulation of the laws of growth of this unique whole, 
which would not only be of profound theoretical importance, but 
also of the greatest practical value.' (Smuts, Holism and Evolutionj 
1926, p. 293.) (1951, p. 124.) 


Brierley comments : 'It is advisable for psycho-analysts to em- 
phasize that they study people not as abstract problems but as 
more or less well integrated living persons. » . . Psycho-analytic 
personology is a psychology, not an anatomy or physiology, of 
personality; it is concerned with subjective experience and the 
motivation of behaviour.' {Op. cit., pp. 124-5.) ^^ have traced 
Freud's never quite completed struggle to make the transition 
from the natural science of neurophysiology to his own new 
psychological studies. The problem of the choice between process 
theory and personal theory as the form requisite for psycho- 
dynamic science emerged, even if it was not recognized as such, 
with his analysis of the e^o in the 1 920s. It was this ego-psychology 
which opened up the field of the dynamic psychology of man as a 
person. The creator of psycho-analysis was at first convinced that 
what E. Jones calls the discovery of 'scientific law and order ... in 
the apparent chaos of mental processes' (1954, i. 416) could be 
achieved only by approaching the mind through the body. His 
later concept of the super-ego was a departure from this principle, 
since it looked to the human environment rather than the organic 
basis of mental life for the origin of a mental function or structural 
Jones writes : 

The language of physics and cerebral physiology in the Project 
was Freud's natural one, to which he in great part adhered even later 
when he was dealing with purely psychological problems. It is true 
that he then gave the terms he used psychological meanings which 
take them away from their original context, but even so they are 
often terms that no pure psychologist would have used to start 
with. ... In the realm of the visual, of definite neural activities that 
could be seen under the microscope, he had for many years felt 
entirely at home; he was as safe there as at the family hearth. To 
wander away from it and embark on the perilous seas of the world of 
emotions, where all was unknown and where what was invisible was 
of far greater consequence than the little that was visible, must have 
cost him dear ... we may regard the feverish writing of the Project 
as a last desperate effort to cling to the safety of cerebral anatomy. 
If only the mind could be described in terms of neurones, their pro- 
cesses and synapses ! How fond the thought must have been to him. 
(/fezW., pp. 420-1.) 

But Freud gave up that attempt. Jones quotes from 

a letter of September 22, 1898, when he wrote : 'I have no inclina- 
tion at all to keep the domain of the psychological floating, as it were. 


in the air, without any organic foundation. But I have no knowledge, 
neither theoretically nor therapeutically, beyond that conviction, so 
that I have to condiict myself as if I had only the psychological 
before me'. He never moved from that position. {Ibid., p. 433.) 

The problem, however, is not whether psychic life has an organic 
foundation. It has, and no one seeks to dispute that. The ques- 
tion is whether psychic development and functioning, particu- 
larly in the human person, can be understood solely from the 
organic end, and explained in neurophysiological terms, or 
whether it needs a new terminology appropriate to itself and 
belonging to a new science that does not, and cannot, operate on 
the same lines as the so-called natural sciences. Freud did later 
make a new start from the personality-end of the psychosomatic 
whole of the human person, and in his ego-psychology he actually 
initiated a fully psychodymmic analysis of the development of 
the personality in and through the medium of personal relation- 
ships. In 1898, however, he effected a compromise which arose 
naturally out of his medical work and his involvement with the 
bodily symptoms of neurosis. He replaced 'neurones' by 'instincts' 
and the physiology of the brain and nervous system by the bio- 
chemistry and the phasic development and maturation of the 
sexual component instincts. This, however, did not enable him to 
achieve a true psychodynamic theory of the personality as dis- 
tinct from a dynamic metapsychology, and he made another new 
development of theory in the 1 920s. 

Freud approached the 'human being in his personal Life' with 
the training and mentality of the natural scientist. Writing of the 
theory of the mind that Freud expounded in the seventh chapter 
of The Interpretation of Dreams, Jones says : 

Freud still uses the word 'Apparatus' and the model he provides is 
constructed on lines very similar to those of the physiological model. 
{Ibid., p. 437.) 

He probably never recognized the extent to which his later ego- 
psychology was a new departure. It is easier for us to see this now 
that his work has had its effect. 

2. The Philosophy of Science 

The question 'Process theory or Personal theory' involves some 
deeper problems that belong in the end to philosophy, the philos- 
ophy of science. Freud frequently expressed a hostile attitude to 
philosophy and religion, both of which he regarded as 'nothing 



but' purely speculative attempts to evolve a set of beliefs primarily 
designed to serve as a basis for pt i^sonal security, and representing 
nothing but wishful thinking. Philosophy and theology were to 
him intellectualized forms of the phantasy life, aiming at the 
creation of a Weltanschauung, a comprehensive view of the 
universe by the aid of which the thinker can feel defended against 
uncertainty and insecurity. It is true that philosophers from Plato 
to Hegel and the Subjective Idealists devoted much energy to 
the construction of such theories of the entire universe, but they 
did much else besides that, such as defining the major problems 
for thought, refining and clarifying the definition of terms, and 
seeking a synoptic point of view arising out of a synthesis of the 
knowledge available at the time without any claim to finality. 
Freud's approach to philosophy was hindered by an emotional 
prejudice as is shown by the language and tone of his reference to 
it in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety. He wrote : 

I must confess that I am not at all partial to the fabrication of 
W eltanschauungen. Such activities may be left to the philosophers, 
who avowedly find it impossible to make their journey through life 
without a Baedeker of that kind to tell them all about ever^^thing. 
Let us humbly accept the contempt with which they look down on 
us from the vantage-ground of their superior needs. (1926, p. 29.) 

It seems rather that Freud was looking with contempt on the 

Philosophy cannot be dismissed so easily and one of the penalties 
Freud paid for doing so was that he w as not able to criticize the 
philosophic assumptions underlying his own theorizing. With the 
rise of modem science, philosophy has been little concerned with 
the construction of a W eltanschauung. To-day, for example. Exis- 
tentialism is mainly an attempt to relate human existence to the 
basic fact of anxiety, while Logical Positivism concerns itself 
with determining the exact meaning of words and terms. All 
scientific thinking is compelled to use, as intellectual tools, certain 
terms and concepts which are not created by the science in ques- 
tion though they are influenced by its development, but are philos- 
ophically defined assumptions in constant need of testing and 
criticism. Freud embarked on his psychological investigations with 
certain assumptions taken over from the natural science of his 
day, and learned from Helmholtz via Briicke and Meynert. These 
assumptions belong to the general outlook that is commonly called 
Scientific Materialism, and was the philosophy, or perhaps we 
ought to say pseudo-philosophy, of most scientists at the turn of 
the century. Professor John Macmurray writes : 


There is in our own day a widespread attitude of mind which is 
itself a kind of immanent philosophy and which is often referred to 
as the scientific view of the world, or more simply as scientific 
materialism. It should be recognized that this 'philosophy of science' 
is neither scientific nor philosophical. It is rather in the nature of a 
popular ideology or of a reaction to the impact and prestige of 
scientific achievement upon the minds of intelligent people who are 
neither scientists nor philosophers. It is not scientific for two reasons. 
The first is that it is in no sense the result of any scientific investiga- 
tion carried out by scientific methods. . . . The second is that it is not 
necessarily the view taken by scientists. Eminent scientists may ex- 
plicitly repudiate it without any damage to their effectiveness as 
scientists. On the other hand it is not a view which is the result of 
any philosophical discussion of science nor a view which is held by 
trained philosophers. ... It is the product of an uncritical response 
to the success of science in its own field, a response which is rather 
emotional than intellectual, and which substitutes Science, vaguely 
personified, as an object of faith and worship for the God of religion. 
This scientific materialism is rather a theology of science than a 
philosophy. (1939, pp. 18-19.) 

There are, however, scientists who do hold this pseudo-philosophy 
of science, regard it as basic to the scientific outlook, and do not 
realize that they are not scientists by virtue of holding this ideology 
but only by virtue of their accurate and painstaking investigation 
of matters of fact. More especially in Freud's day this ideology 
constituted a kind of religion of science, especially with those who, 
like Freud, substituted science for religion in all other senses. 
That scientific explanation consists in the analytical reduction of 
all phenomena to material terms whereby they become amenable 
to being subsumed under the laws of physics in the end, was an un- 
criticized axiom of thinking, for Brucke, Meynert and Freud. For 
Freud it was clearly as much a 'faith' as any religious faith, which 
explains the tremendous emotional struggle he had to transcend 
the categories of neurophysiology in his psychological investiga- 
tion. The results are written large over his theorizing as a whole, 
though it throws into all the more striking relief the power of his 
genius that in spite of this he should have been able to make the 
astonishing new discoveries in the realm of 'mind' that he did. 

It is unfortunate that, owing to Freud's overpowering influence, 
psycho-analytical thinking should have become so deeply impreg- 
nated with this type of philosophical assumption which is opposed 
to the essential nature of psycho-analytic theory. It is reassuring 
to find a more realistic attitude to philosophy in the work of Brier- 


ley, which shows the extent to which psycho-analysis comes under 
the influence of intellectual changes going on beyond its own 
borders. Brierley writes : 

The remarkable thing about Freud's work is not that it should 
have been influenced by the intellectual climate of his time or should 
occasionally express personal preferences, but that its principles and 
implications should have been so far in advance of his time. (1951, p. 

1 55-) 

Concerning Freud's own position she says : 

Since Freud stated his opinion [New Introductory Lectures, p. 
232] that the young science of psycho-analysis was in no state to 
formulate Weltanschauungen but must share the common Welten- 
schauung of science, which he thought hardly merited such a high- 
sounding name, two things have become more evident than they 
were even ten years ago. Firstly, the Weltanschauung of science is 
not static; in recent years it has undergone quite revolutionary 
changes. . . . Secondly, though Freud himself was abundantly in- 
fluenced by the mechanistic Anschauung dominant in his earlier 
years, he had ample evidence that his work was revolutiona'^/. He 
himself admitted this, but he does not appear to have fully realized 
quite what a challenge his work as a whole was to the older Weltan- 
schauung. But clearly, his conceptions of psychological reality and 
mental dynamism are absolutely incompatible with any of the older 
conceptions of mechanistic materialism. (1951, pp. 153-4-) 

As to the present position regarding the philosophy of science and 
its bearing on psycho-analysis, Brierley sums up as follows : 

The essence of science is its realistic mode of approach to the object 
of study. Any subject can therefore be studied scientifically and any 
technique can claim to be regarded as scientific which devises ade- 
quate checks and standards of probability suited to its individual 
field. The realism with which science is equated is no longer mechan- 
istic materialism. . . . There is as yet little tolerance of psychological 
reality among many psychologists and sociologists, and, for that 
matter, still too little among psycho-analysts themselves. But it is a 
fact that mechanistic materialism is now outmoded . . . the Weltan- 
schauung of Western science is in a state of flux; it is a welter of 
different viewpoints rather than an integrated outlook. . . . Pro- 
fessional philosophy appears to aim at the elaboration and synthesis 
of defined intellectual conceptions. . . . Some philosophic wholes 
savour of wish-fulfilment pure and simple, of a personal rebuilding 
of the universe nearer to the heart's desire. . . . However, all thinking 


has subjective determinants and some philosophers are less intent 
on the formation of closed 'systems' than on the synthesis and 
evaluation of trends of thought and advance in knowledge. (1951, 

PP- 155-7)- 

Broadly speaking, reality confronts us with phenomena on three 
different levels, which we refer to as matter, life and mind ; and 
science needs a different set of basic concepts and terms for the 
investigation of each of them. Some types of scientific thinker 
assume that biological and psychological phenomena are only 
truly scientifically explained when reduced to terms of chemistry 
and physics. This was a very general assumption at the end of last 
century and was the view of the teachers under whom Freud grew 
to intellectual maturity. Other thinkers, as for example A. N. 
Whitehead, do not regard reductive analysis as adequate to the 
understanding and explanation of 'higher' phenomena. The 
mathematical concept of a 'unit' and the physical concept of a 
'thing' are not adequate to explain the biological organism, nor 
is the biological concept of 'organism' adequate to explain mental 
phenomena, particularly at the level where what we call the 
'person' emerges. Macmurray writes : 

The unity-patterns of mathematical and of organic thought have 
already been worked out in the history of philosophy. The unity- 
pattern through which personality could be represented has not. 
The problem of the logical representation of the self has, indeed, 
been the central problem of all modern philosophy. (1933, p. 122.) 

In view of the present-day development of what is called 'object- 
relations' theory in psycho-analysis, two of Macmurray's further 
comments are clearly of great significance. He says : 

The self only exists in the communion of selves. . . . My own \ 
existence as a person is constituted by my knowledge of other persons, , 
by my objective consciousness of them as persons, not by the mere \ 
fact of my relation to them. The main fact that has to be represented " 
is not that I am because you are, but that I am I because I know you, 
and that you are you because you know me. My consciousness is 
rational or objective because it is a consciousness of someone who is in 
personal relation to me and, therefore, knows me and knows that I 
am I. I have my being in that mutual self-knowledge (pp. 137-8). 

To put it in the familiar terms of modern controversy, mathe- 
matical relations are external to the terms they relate. Organic 
relations are internal to their terms. But personal relations are at 
once internal and external (p. 140). 


We here face the crucial issue for psychological thinking. Are 
the results of the psychological study of human beings as 'persons' 
capable of being adequately formulated in the impersonal termin- 
ology characteristic of the natural sciences of mathematics, physi- 
ology and biology, or by evolving a new terminology capable of 
representing 'personal phenomena' ? Freud faced this problem in 
making the transition from ph)'siology to psychology, but he 
did not solve it largely because the means to do so did not exist at 
that time. Perhaps even now we have only just got so far as to see 
the problem more clearly, and Freud's own work was one of the 
major factors in forcing that much progress. 

Is psychology a discipline in its own right, or only a subordinate 
sub-division of physiology in the end? For psychology the issue 
may now be said to present itself in terms of the choice between 
'process theory' and 'personal theory'. In this form it has been ex- 
plicitly dealt with by Brierley, who expounds psycho-analysis in 
both ways, while distinguishing clearly between them. Not all 
analytical writers are as careful, and there is great harm in mixing 
and confusing the two types of theory, presenting what purports 
to be a theory of personal relationships in what is actually a process 
theory which reduces the personal to the impersonal. 

3. Freud's Metapsychology; the Pleasure Principle 

We must indicate in some detail how the two types of theory 
clashed in Freud's own work even while he held predominantly 
to the 'process theory' thinking which he had learned from the 
natural sciences. We have to distinguish between the clinical facts 
which Freud discovered and the theory he evolved to explain 
them. The theory is built on certain assumptions which Freud 
elaborated in a number of his writings, among others in Beyond 
the Pleasure Principle (1920). His hypotheses of the pleasure prin- 
ciple and the Death Instinct express the ideology and mode of 
thought he acquired in his earlier physiological and neurological 
studies, and which he brought to the study of clinical psychological 
data rather than inferred from them. They represent the philo- 
sophical orientation underlying Freud's theorizing as his neur- 
ologist's philosophy. 

Freud states, in the above monograph, that psycho-analysis 
takes for granted that unpleasant tension 'automatically' sets 
going mental events which then aim at decrease of unpleasant 
tension. It is arbitrarily assumed that increase of excitation is the 
meaning of 'unpleasure' and decrease means 'pleasure'. This 
quantity theory is held to explain the operation of the mental 


apparatus to reduce excitation to a low level and keep it there : 
this is the pleasure principle, for the increase of excitation above a 
constant low level means 'unpleasure'. The constancy principle 
and the pleasure principle are the same. This principle of keeping 
cerebral excitation constant goes back to the Breuer period. 


Thus the pleasure principle is, strictly speaking, a physiological, 

not a psychological, concept. Though it is put forward to explain 

mental events and related to the quantity of excitation that is held 

to be present in the mind, this 'mind' is in fact regarded as a 

mechanical model, an apparatus (as E. Jones emphasized) in 

which events are automatically regulated — not for the fulfilment 

of meaningful aims, which would be a psychological conception, 

but for the reduction of quantity of excitation to a constant level. 

This is simply the psychology for neurologists which Freud was 

supposed to have abandoned in 1 895. 

As late as 1920 the concepts and thought-forms of the physi- 
ologist are transferred unaltered in essence to psychology and 
appUed to mental phenomena, thereby reducing them to the 
status of a mere parallel though psychic version of physiological 
events. This attempt both to separate and to combine neuro- 
physiology and psychology at one and the same time throws no 
extra light on either of them. It is the description of a physio- 
logical process to which a psychological label — ^i.e. 'pleasure and 
unpleasure' — has been attached. This mixing of disciplines leads 
to serious error when it is applied to 'personal' phenomena. 

We must either set out to explain neurological events in the 
appropriate physiological, biochemical and electrical terms, or 
else set out to explain a different set of facts — the psychological 
events of the mental and personal life of man — and discover what 
are the appropriate terms for that. We can then include and 
correlate both in a synoptic view of a human being as a whole, 
but to seek to explain the latter in terms only appropriate to the 
former darkens all issues. We can have a physiological 'process 
theory' or a psychological 'personal theory'. So-called 'rneta- 
psychology' purports to be psychology while in fact it is physiology 
with a psychological label. Pleasure and unpleasure are psycho- 
logical experiences and cannot be simply related to diminution 
and increase of excitation respectively. Sometimes the reverse is 
the case. Furthermore these are qualitative terms and a physi- 
ologist would not find them useful for the explanation of his 
quantitative phenomena ; neither are the physiologist's quantitative 
terms really useful to the psychologist to explain his qualitative 
phenomena. This way of thinking is, in reality, an expression of 


the ultimate wish of the natural scientist to reduce the mental to 
the material, or, failing that, to treat it as T. H. Huxley did, as 
an irrelevant epiphenomenon having no more importance than 
the steam whistle has for the driving of the train. (Huxley died in 
1895, the year in which Freud wrote his Project for a 'Psychology 
for Neurologists'.) 

Freud himself speaks of the hypothesis of the Pleasure Principle 
as a speculative assumption which he justifies in the statement 
that no philosopher or psychologist has shown the meaning of 
feelings of pleasure and unpleasure, and he thinks his hypothesis 
is the best because he regards it as the least rigid one. But firstly, 
on the properly psychological level of personal aims and object 
relationships, the meaning of pleasure and unpleasure is not so 
obscure after all. Secondly, Freud's 'quantity of excitation' hypo- 
thesis and his 'constancy principle' appear to form the mostf rather 
than the least, rigid hypothesis, since it allows of no properly psy- 
chological explanation of what are actually psychological facts. 

Concerning Freud's terms we must ask whether this pleasure- 
or constancy-principle is a pleasure principle or an energy-tension 
principle ? Is mental or psychic activity the characteristic of a 
person dealing with an environment that has significant meanings 
for his personal needs and aims, and who therefore feels pleased 
when he is satisfied and pained when he is thwarted ; or is it the 
characteristic of a mental apparatus for the equalization of 
energy-pressures? In the latter case it need not have any 'mean- 
ing', nor is there any reason why tension should give unpleasure 
and discharge should give pleasure. This 'apparatus' is pictured on 
the model of the pressure of a weight of water piling up behind 
a dam, which it then bursts through so that it flows out and finds 
a common level where pressure is equally distributed and tension 
is for the time being non-existent. We cannot suppose that the 
water has any 'aim' in this nor that it finds any part of the process 
either pleasant or unpleasant. The accumulation and discharge 
of the pressure of dammed-up excitation may be thought of neuro- 
logically as occurring in the brain and nervous system, or 'psycho- 
logically' as occurring in a 'mental apparatus' for the regulation 
of psychic tensions. But in fact these are only two parallel ways 
of saying the same thing, and no genuine psychological thinking 
has yet taken place. We are talking in terms of impersonal 'pro- 
cesses'. So-called psychological process theory is not in principle 
different from neurological process theory. There is not really any 
place here for the use of the psychological term 'pleasure', for this 
is a qualitative term expressing the fact that an experience has a 
satisfying significance for a personal experiencing subject. Neither 


a nervous system nor a mental apparatus can feel pleasure. Only 
an experiencing subject can feel pleasure according as his needs 
and aims are fulfilled or frustrated. Freud would find in Drever 
something 'offered to our purpose', a 'psychological theory which 
was able to inform us of the meaning of the feelings of pleasure 
and unpleasure'. In Drever's view, pleasure is experienced when 
an activity is progressing optimally towards the achievement of 
an aim, and unpleasure when the activity progresses either too 
slowly or too quickly towards such achievement. (Drever, 19 17.) 

It is not even true that increase of excitation (tension) is neces- 
sarily unpleasant and diminution pleasant. In a sexual relation- 
ship both increase and diminution of tension and excitation are 
pleasurable if and when they are phases of a total satisfying rela- 
tionship. Excitation becomes unpleasant only when the relation- 
ship is interfered with and left incomplete. If we use the terms 
'pleasure' and 'unpleasure', then we are dealing with mental or 
psychic activity as a characteristic of a personal subject achieving 
or being frustrated in achieving experiences in object-relationships 
which are meaningful for the satisfaction of his needs and aims. 
We are then thinking in terms of 'personal theory', not of 'process 

Freud's pleasure principle is thus not a properly psychological 
hypothesis. The psychological problem is confessedly given up as 
'obscure and inaccessible'. (1920, p. 2.) 'Pleasure principle psy- 
chology' is but a pseudo^psychology in which the mental life of 
man is represented as an apparatus concerned with the regula- 
tion of quantities of excitation, energy and tension, which must 
be kept as far as possible at a low and constant level. A clinical 
example shows the pitfalls in the path of this type of theory in 
practice. A patient of mine had a mother of exceptionally strong 
personality, of extremely rigid and 'high' moral and religious prin- 
ciples, who had brought him up with excessive emphasis on 
routine, orderliness and strict discipline. In his late teens he de- 
veloped insomnia and restless 'nerviness' for which he was taken 
to a neurologist. This consultant said that his brain was over- 
active and he must be kept from all exciting and stimulating 
experiences, go to bed at 8 p.m. every night and rest as much 
as pK)ssible. This managing mother was to see that this was done. 
The unpleasure of excitation must be reduced to a low level. The 
patient, however, got worse rapidly, and soon refused point-blank 
to go to bed at 8 p.m. Even his mother's powerful hold over him 
could not prevent his going out in the evenings with his friends, 
though she did her best. The 'nerviness' continued, but the patient 
discovered that when, a year or two later, his job took him away 


from home (and from his mother) he felt much less tense than he 
had done for a long time. His life did not, in the ordinary sense 
of the term, contain anything unusually or grossly exciting or 
over-stimulating. His mother had all too successfully enforced on 
him a distinctly quiet, orderly and somewhat uneventful life. 
The explanation lay rather in the psychological and quahtative 
sphere of the peculiarly frustrating nature of his relationship with 
his mother which had meanings for him of the most unpleasant 
kind in the denial of his right to become a self-directing and pur- 
posive person on his own initiative. Pleasure and unpleasure in 
this connection are not intelligible in terms of quantity of excita- 
tion, but only in terms of the significance of personal fulfilment 
and personal relationships. But for the pseudo-philosophy of scien- 
tific materialism, Freud would surely not have attempted to 
explain clinical data of the above kind by means of 'process 
theory' of an impersonal and, at bottom, physiological type. A 
properly psychological theory must be a 'personal theory', and 
any type of non-personal theory is not genuine psychology but 
disguised physiology. 

4. Freud's Metapsychology: The Death Instinct 

For psycho-analysis, psychology is the study of the personal 
human mind. If the human mind is depersonalized it ceases to 
be human, but it is not possible to create a science by the falsifica- 
tion of the data. That is the peculiar problem that faces science 
in dealing with 'personality', unless Brierley's broader definition 
of science is borne in mind. On this question of depersonaliza- 
tion, she writes : 

The natural trend of science ... is towards objectivity and abstract 
thinking. Since the real existents are particulars, whereas universals 
are ideal existents, this trend is also towards de-personalization. . . . 
The trend of scientific thinking towards objectivity and de-personal- 
ization is represented in psycho-analysis by the development of 
metapsychology. Metapsychology is the 'pure science' aspect of 
psycho-analysis and the metapsychologist's approach to the study 
of mental organization is essentially the same as the physicist's ap- 
proach to the study of the atom. ( 195 1, pp. 1 27-8.) 

Personology is individual psychology, whereas metapsychology 
is a general theory of mental processes and their organization. In 
its concentration on endopsychic events, metapsychology isolates 
mental life more artificially than does personology which studies 
the mental and motor behaviour of persons accepted as living in an 
actual world among other people (p. 130). 


Whether an approach to the study of the 'person' which is 'essen- 
tially the same as the physicist's approach to the study of the 
atom' is a correct scientific approach in this particular case, clearly 
raises the whole question of what is meant by science. A person 
and an atom are not the same kind of object, and it seems clear 
that metapsychology springs from the assumption that the only 
type of study that is truly scientific is one that reduces aU pheno- 
mena to their lowest, physical terms. It is the normal procedure 
for science to abstract some particular aspect of total reality for 
study, but the abstraction must be relevant to what we seek to 
understand. Mental processes in a human being are 'personal 
processes' and it does not appear relevant to abstract them in 
such a way that they are treated as impersonal processes. Would 
such a procedure give any valid knowledge of a kind relevant for 
psycho-analysis? Moreover, is it really psychological knowledge 
for, by admission, it is an attempt to treat mental processes not 
simply as impersonal but on the model of physical processes, a 
thinly disguised attempt to 'reduce mind to matter' as the earlier 
materialists did? Materialism as an emotional prejudice still 
underhes this type of so-called science. 

In chapter II (pp. 31-2) a passage from G. W. Allport was 
quoted to the effect that science regards the individual as a 
'bothersome accident', so that psychology has worked at 'the 
generalized human mind'. This, he says, is devoid of aU the 'essen- 
tial characteristics of the minds we know'. Hence a new develop- 
ment has arisen, 'the psychology of personality'. Psycho-analytic 
metapsychology is the equivalent of the study of 'the generalized 
human mind' and it is not clear what truly psychological purpose 
is served by it. The fact is that the problem of 'the individual', 
which science has always hitherto been pretty safe in ignoring, 
cannot be ignored when it is the human person that is studied, for 
here 'individuality' is far more of the very essence of what is being 
studied. There is a grave danger of so-called metapsychological 
or 'pure science' habits of thought secretly infecting the study of 
personality in ways that distort and invalidate the study. This 
seems to have been the case with Freud, in his more speculative 
thinking, and it is nowhere more clearly shown than in his devel- 
opment of theory beyond the pleasure principle to the concept of 
a death instinct. 

It is clear that if the 'constancy principle' could fully prevail, it 
would turn out to be a 'stagnancy principle', which would ulti- 
mately prove to be equivalent to Freud's death instinct. He de- 
cides that increase of excitation must hinder the smooth working 
of the apparatus and therefore be unpleasurable. In other words 



the function of our mental life as human beings is to reduce as 
quickly as possible any tendency to respond to, and deal actively 
with, our environment, and reduce us to a state of quiescent 
equilibrium or eternal sleep in which nothing happens. Life is 
the negation of living, and passivity is the true aim of existence 
whUe activity is an adverse nuisance. To such straits are we re- 
duced by this neurophysiological psychology. Such a theory 
would admirably express unconscious anti-libidinal processes that 
enforce passivity and sabotage the active enjoyment of living. 
Brierlev writes : 

The average standard of modem Western normality has been an 
average of psychological impoverishment. This average not seldom 
corresponds to a viable degree of ego-stability dearly purchased at 
the cost of a host of major and minor impairments of zest for living. 
. . . These conditions may never result in illness or prevent the sub- 
ject from making a reasonable success in life, judged by average 
standards, but the impairments of function may, nevertheless, be 
appreciable in a host of major and minor psychological impediments 
to vigorous and joyful living, (i 951, pp. 187, 193.) 

It is in a culture so characterized that the scientific study of 
human personality has begun and it would be strange if uncon- 
scious determinants of theoretical thinking did not betray their 
presence in the type of theory favoured. Freud's metapsycholo- 
gical views, from the pleasure or constancy principle to the death 
instinct seem to be a case in point. At best a human person seems 
to have become something liie a boiler with an electrical immer- 
sion heater thermostatically controlled so that as soon as the tem- 
perature rises beyond a very low level, the 'apparatus' at once 
begins to turn itself off. 

Freud really had no need for what he calls his 'far-fetched 
speculation' (1920, p. 27) in the rest of this book which led him 
to the concept of the death instinct, for that is not 'beyond the 
pleasure principle' in the long run; it is already contained in 
essence in the pleasure or constancy principle. This turns out to 
be a drastic inhibitor of living which, carried to its logical extreme, 
is in fact a 'death principle'. The pleasure or constancy principle 
really suffices in itself to take us the whole way to the final goal 
of the reduction of all organic and psychological tensions to an 
original inert state in which it appears that death is the aim of 
life. We can summarize the whole trend of thought as follows : 

The pleasure principle, which the mental apparatus is said to 
operate, aims to regulate excitation (tension) in a definite direc- 
tion by : 


(a) keeping it constant, i.e. arresting any tendency to increase, 
which is declared to be unpleasant, by securing dischcirge or 
tension-relieving ; 

{b) keeping it low, i.e. reducing tension to as low a level as 
possible, and presumably avoiding stimuli which would increase 
it, for increase is adverse to the functioning of the mental ap- 

(c) so leading in the direction where we come upon the hypo- 
thetical death instinct which calls for the elimination of excita- 
tions and tensions altogether. This appears to be a psychophy- 
siology of the inhibition of the active process, which defines the 
aim of living as a steady progress towards the achievement of its 
own decease. The aim is not given as the satisfaction of positive 
needs but the prevention, reduction and ultimate cessation of 

5. Freud's Metapsychology: The Reality Principle 

At this point a compUcation arises, for Freud regarded the 
pleasure principle as opposed by a reality principle. The pleasure 
principle characterizes the primary process and the sexual libido, 
and, after repression, operates in the unconscious. The reality 
principle characterizes die secondary process of the reality-ego 
in consciousness. It is true that, as Freud wrote to Ernest Jones : 
*The reality principle is only continuing the work of the pleasure 
principle in a more eflFectual way, gratification being the aim of 
both and their opposition only a secondary fact.' (Jones, 1955, 
p. 502.) The self-preservative interests of the ego enforce delay, 
when immediate gratification would be dangerous. It is, however, 
difficult to see why, on Freud's view, the concept of a reality prin- 
ciple should be needed, or why there should be any self-preserva- 
tive interests in the ego for it to serve. The theory, of course, is 
supposed not to give sole sway to the death instinct, but to picture 
living as an opposition of life and death instincts, libido and de- 
structiveness. However, in developing his theory piecemeal Freud 
did not always recognize when early and later views were incom- 
patible. This was the case with the pleasure principle theory and 
the life and death instincts theory, for the pleasure principle, which 
is held to characterize the libidinal process, is only a milder 
version of the death instinct or the destructive pwocess. For 
pleasure is not held to characterize the total active libidinal pro- 
cess but only the discharge and dissipation of its tensions. If 
reduction of tension and ultimately death is the real aim of Ufe, 
then the sooner it is achieved the better. The most successful 


operation of the death instinct — suicide — would indeed be the 
virtue and the source of pleasure and satisfaction (at least in con- 
templation and in prospect) that the Roman Stoics held it to be. 
It seems pointless to say that the pleasure principle, in face of 
external difficulties, is not efficient and is dangerous, because it 
may lead too rapidly to the goal of death which in the last resort 
is aimed at. In any case the so-called reality principle is only a 
matter of 'delaying tactics' in the search for pleasure. Since 
pleasure or satisfaction is the reduction of excitations which had 
better never have arisen, and the termination of unpleasure and 
of adverse tendencies towards greater activity in the apparatus 
(which is in conformity with the final aim of death), this delaying 
tendency of the reality principle must be a nuisance to be classed 
with everything that disturbs the smooth working of the apparatus 
unpleasurably. The reaHty principle is merely the postponement 
of satisfaction in a quick death. It gives up chances of obtaining 
this satisfaction by tolerating unpleasure for the time being on 
the long winding road to the goal. This reality principle is a 
radical inconsistency in the whole theory if the constancy (or 
pleasure) principle and the death instinct are true. If the cHnical 
facts call for a reality principle, which is really an 'object-relations 
principle', then the constancy principle and death instinct need 
drastic reconsideration. 

Yet the pleasure principle, which on the one hand reduces to 
the negative constancy principle, is on the other hand regarded as 
the principle of operation of the primary process, the positive 
libidinal urge for satisfaction. Here, then, is a curious contradic- 
tion. The reality principle, as Freud conceived it, in its immediate 
operation is an cinti-libidinal principle with an ultimately libidinal 
aim, and the pleasure principle is a Ubidinal principle with an 
ultimately anti-libidinal aim. Such are the anomalies to which 
this neurophysiological quantity theory leads us. It is, of course, 
strange that, if the goal of life is death, life should have arisen at 
all. It can only be an irrelevance and a passing disturbance. It 
seems doubtful, however, if the significance of life can be under- 
stood for those who live it by the observation that life is merely a 
running round in a circle to come back to the starting-point. 

Freud arbitrarily equated unpleasure with increase, and 
pleasure with diminution, of excitation, without taking into ac- 
count the total situation of the satisfaction of a need in and for 
object-relationship. Pleasure is supposed not to be felt in the rising 
of desire and the increase of tension, but only in the activity that 
leads to energy discharge, relief of tension and subsequent 
quiescence or equilibrium. The theory is based on the neuro- 


physiology of the sexual process. It implies that pleasure is not a 
characteristic of activity per se, for activity can be aimed at the 
increase of excitation. When Freud says that increase of tension is 
equivalent to unpleasure, he is meaning that the mounting up of 
tension without as yet any discharge is unpleasant. In actual fact 
it may be characterized by either pleasure or unpleasure, for ex- 
citement itself can be pleasure-toned, otherwise it would not be 
capable of serving at all as a substitute for the satisfaction of real 
good-object relations of which the deteriorated pleasure-seeker 
is incapable. Tension without discharge is only purely unpleasur- 
able when the prospect of satisfaction of the psychological aim is 
hopeless. To have to go on wanting what one cannot get is painful. 
Resort is then had to ad hoc tension-relieving devices, which, far 
from bringing pure pleasure in their train, are usually exj>erienced 
as disappointingly unsatisfying, because mere decrease of excita- 
tion is not what is wanted and in itself gives nothing that can pro- 
duce a sense of deep satisfaction. 

On the other hand, the mounting of the tension of desire is 
itself pleasurable when satisfaction is jx>ssible and expected. It 
can hardly be maintained that the physical tension differs in the 
two cases. What differs is the psychological and personal setting. 
The reality principle is primarily the object-seeking principle, and 
secondly the adjustment of desire to the possibilities of satisfaction. 
If tension qua tension were unpleasant in itself and the aim were 
simply its reduction, then any method of relieving excitation would 
be as good as any other, i.e. autoeroticism would be as satisfactory 
as object-love and much more easily come by. In reality the re- 
verse is the case. If, however, the aim is ilot mere reduction of 
tension per se but the achievement of a goal in personal relation- 
ship concerning which there is both prospective and retrospective 
pleasure, then the reality principle is not a mere principle of 
delayed pleasure. Prospective pleasure, pleasure in possession, and 
retrospective pleasure in satisfaction obtained are different phases 
of the total personal relationship. 

The pleasure principle, in so far as it leads on to the Death In- 
stinct, is really an .'elimination-of -pleasure principle', for the more 
tension is reduced the less capacity there is for feeling anything at 
all. At best it is an 'absence-of -unpleasure principle'. So long as it 
is viewed as simply a matter of quantities of increase or decrease 
of tension or excitation, no other view is possible. Only when we 
view psychic activity as a matter of achievement or frustration of 
personal aims can an intelligible meaning be given to the terms 
'pleasure' and 'unpleasure'. Satisfaction, however, is not some- 
thing confined simply to the point and process of energy discharge. 


It characterizes the entire process of desire, working for the end 
in view, reaching the goal and retrospective enjoyment of the 
result. Temporary obstacles may enhance pleasure in working. It is 
only hopeless frustration that is personally experienced as un- 
pleasure. Otherwise, the entire active process can be experienced 
as pleasure-giving. 

Enjoyment is the enjoyment of reality, of a satisfying relation- 
ship to reality, so that the pleasure principle is itself, properly 
speaking, a reality principle. Only when pleasure is sought as 
substitute for real relationships can any distinction be made, and 
that is the description of a psychopathological condition. Fair- 
bairn holds that there is only one principle in nature, a reality 
principle governed by an object-relationships aim. 

6. Freud's Metapsychology and Ego- Analysis 

In taking up the analysis of the ego, Freud confronted himself 
with the issue of process theory versus personal theory, and took 
the important step of introducing the terminology of personal 
theory at this point. His analysis of the ego came about through 
observing that a personal object who is lost or given up so far as 
external relationship is concerned, is usually introjected or installed 
in the ego itself by means of a psychic identification of part of the 
ego with the object. The ego in part takes on the task of repre- 
senting the object in the inner mental life so that relationship can 
be kept up. This sets going a differentiation of structure in the 
ego, in view of the fact that what was an external object-relation- 
ship has now become represented internally by a relationship 
between one part of the ego which still remains itself, and another 
part which now represents the object. Thus, Freud held, the 
super-ego is formed by the psychic internalization of parents. This 
is a theory of psychic development by means of experience in 
personal object-relationships, not by means of impersonal 'pro- 
cesses' of instinct-maturation, impulse-discharge of else repression 
and tension-relieving. 

Hartmann, Kris and Loewenstein distinguish between imper- 
sonal metapsychology and 'metaphorical language', which really 
amounts to what Brierley calls 'personology', in relation to Freud's 
structural concepts. They write : 

The structural concepts of psycho-analysis have met with much 
criticism. It has been said that through their use clinical description 
has been obscured, since the terms were dramatic in an anthropo- 
morphic sense. Clearly, whenever dramatization is encountered, 
metaphorical language has crept into scientific discourse. . . . The 


danger obviously begins if and when metaphor infringes upon mean- 
ing, in the case in point, when the structural concepts are anthropo- 
morphized. Then the functional connotation may be lost, and one of 
the psychic systems may be substituted for the total personality. 
(1946, p. 16.) 

They remark that in Alexander's Psycho- Andy sis of the Total 
Personality the id, ego and super-ego have become exalted actors 
on the psychic stage. To test the issue they select a statement by 
Freud in metaphorical language to the effect that 'The ego 
presents itself to the super-ego as love-object', and turn it into 
process-theory language. They state that : 

The metaphor expresses the relation of two psychic organizations 
by comparing it to a love relation between two individuals in which 
one is the lover and the other the beloved. However, the sentence 
expresses an important clinical finding : self-love can easily and does, 
under certain conditions, substitute for love of another person. Self- 
love in this formulation indicates that approval of the self by the 
super-ego concerns the self in lieu of another person. (Ibid., p. 16.) 

Turning this into process-theory terms, they replace 'ego' by 'self 
since 'ego' by Freudian definition stands for only a part of the 
personality ; and they reject 'love' or 'approval and disapproval' 
by the super-ego in favour of 'different kinds and degrees of 
tension between the two psychic organizations, according to the 
presence or absence of conflict between their functions. Approval 
would be characterized by diminution of tensions ; disapproval by 
its increase.' (1946, p. 16.) Conflict, however, is also a dramatic 
and anthropomorphic term and should be omitted. The statement 
'The ego presents itself to the super-ego as love-object' has now 
become, presumably, 'The self is related to the super-ego by in- 
crease or diminution of tensions'. Concerning this process- theory 
terminology they say : 

There can be little doubt that a reformulation of this kind that tries 
to restrict the use of metaphor, considerably impoverishes the plas- 
ticity of language as compared with Freud's mode of expression. 
Man frequently experiences self-satisfaction as if an inner voice ex- 
pressed approval, and self-reproaches as if an inner voice expressed 
disapprobation. Thus the metaphorical expression comes closer to 
our immediate understanding, since the anthropomorphism it intro- 
duces corresponds to human experience. Our reformulation shows 
that not the concepts which Freud introduced are anthropomorphic, 
but that the clinical facts he studied and described led us to under- 


stand what part anthropomorphism plays in introspective thinking. 
(1946, p. 17.) 

Evidently, as compared with pure process-theory terminology, 
which casts psychology into a 'natural science' form by the use 
of thought-forms characteristic of physiology, Freud's structural 
terms are indisputably a personal terminology. For that reason 
they have been accused of being dramatic, anthropomorphic and 
metaphorical. But these writers distinguish between the strict and 
the metaphorical usage of these terms. The strict usage seeks to 
reduce them by the restriction of metaphor to the impersonal form 
of process- theory language which, though more 'scientific', is 
admitted to be considerably impoverished in its ability to represent 
clinical findings, i.e. the actual psychological data. They agree that 
'the metaphorical expression comes closer to our immediate under- 
standing, since the anthropomorphism it introduces corresponds 
to human experience', and they comment that it is not Freud's 
terms but the clinical facts that are 'anthropomorphic'. Yet they 
also fear that metaphor may reduce the scientific accuracy of 
terminology. Like Freud himself they are relentlessly driven by 
the facts away from impersonal process terminology towards per- 
sonal theory terms, to the accompaniment of anxiety lest this 
should be less scientific. Is the criticism valid that personal ter- 
minology is dramatic, anthropomorphic and metaphorical ? 

The Student's English Dictionary (Ogilvie and Annandale) 
states that anthropomorphism is 'the representation or conception 
of (the non-human) under a human form or with human at- 
tributes'. Metaphor is 'A figure of speech founded on resemblance, 
by which a word is transferred from an object to which it properly 
belongs to another, so that a comparison is impUed. Thus "that 
man is a fox" is a metaphor.' {Student's English Dictionary.) Hence 
to criticize the description of the psychic phenomena of the human 
person in personal terms as anthropomorphic and metaphorical is 
incorrect. If it is metaphorical to say 'That man is a fox', it is 
simply a statement of fact to say 'That man is a man'. It would 
be odd if the psychical processes of man were not anthropomor- 
phic. What else can they be? Anthropomorphism in this case is 
not metaphor, or personification of the impersonal, but an objec- 
tive and scientific statement of the fact that, since man is a p>erson, 
all his psychic functions are personal activities. When structural 
differentiations develop within the totality of the psychic life, each 
differentiated aspect of the self is still a person functioning, not an 
impersonal process going on inside a personal psyche which would 
be a meaningless idea. Even depersonalized states of mind are 


really only pseudo-impersonal states due to the defensive with- 
drawal of a person from too disturbing contact with his outer 
world. The scheme of Freud cannot therefore be criticized for 
using personal concepts like 'ego' and 'super-ego' to denote two 
of the functional differentiations of the total self. It can more justly 
be criticized for using the non-personal term 'id' for the third 

These writers choose the excellent example of ego-super-ego 
relations in terms of self-approval or self-disapproval as a test case. 
They write : 

Man frequently experiences self-satisfaction as if [present writer's 
italics] an inner voice expressed approval, and self-reproaches as if 
[ditto] an inner voice expressed disapprobation. Thus the meta- 
phorical expression comes closer to our immediate understanding. 
(1946, p. 17.) 

But the expression is not metaphorical but a literal statement of 
fact. The inner voice is a voice, it is my own voice, it is me speaking 
to myself, and it is me speaking as mother or father because I feel 
that in that part of myself I am one with mother or father. The 
psychic fact of 'identification' is being represented. One of my 
patients used repeatedly to fall into periods of compulsive shouting 
at herself. On one occasion, after a trivial mistake, she spent the 
best part of two hours going about her household duties and all 
the time shouting at herself aloud : 'You silly thing', 'You ought 
to have known better', 'Why don't you think before you speak ?', 
'You ought to be ashamed of yourself and so on. Presently she 
began to feel worn out under this barrage of criticism, and sud- 
denly she realized that these were the very words that her mother 
used when heaping abuse on her and that she was feeling exactly 
as she used to feel when her mother would go on and on at her. 
Auditory hallucinations and split-personality phenomena show 
how literally functional differentiations within the total psyche 
retain personality in themselves, for the simple reason that they 
are the person acting in that way. 

Freud's discovery of the super-ego, and the development of 
'internal object-relations' theory accurately represents the human 
psyche as the kind of entity that carries on its own internal devel- 
opment by differentiating itself into a number of dramatis per- 
sonae. Thus it maintains its own inner life in the personal form of 
a mental reproduction of its outer life as it feels and experiences 
it. The one person functions actually as a group of persons and 
that is the psychologically objective fact that theory has to repre- 
sent. Only a personal terminology is adequate to this. 


This problem of 'process theory versus personal theory' was 
discussed in a B.B.C. Third Programme broadcast by Nigel 
Walker. {The Listener, Oct. 6, 1955.) He regards personal theory 
as more adequate for the purpose of psychotherapy than process 
theory but is not clear as to the use of the term metaphor. His 
position seems to be that process-theory terminology is ultimately 
just as metaphorical as personal- theory terminology, and that it 
is a case of choosing the most useful metaphor. That is a defensible 
position, but he also suggests that process theory is closer to the 
literal truth, while personal theory, though metaphorical, is more 
useful for psychotherapy. My own position would be that either 
both are (within the limits of possibiUty) literal truth within their 
respective spheres, the one physical and the other psychological, 
or else both are metaphorical since the ultimate 'thing-in-itself 
is unknowable ; but not that the one is literal and the other meta- 

He says : 

Unless you believe that the human mind is a thing separate from 
the nervous systems of the body and brain, it is likely that the only 
literal account of the changes wrought by psycho-analysis — the only 
account that is not to some extent metaphorical — has got to be in 
terms of such things as neurons and electrochemical impulses that 
run through them. . . . But it would not be of any use to a psycho- 
therapist who has to think in terms of desires, emotions and memories, 
if only for the very good reason that this is the language he has to 
talk to his patients. I am not suggesting that these terms themselves 
are metaphors; a memory or a fit of rage is as real an event as a 
change in axon potential. . . . My point is that psychotherapy is a 
field in which a good metaphor is worth more to the technician than 
the literal truth. 

Walker, however, is not easy about this conception of the literal 
truth. He states that in the 1930s the first steps were taken 

in the formulation of a new terminology, so that it is now possible to 
distinguish in psycho-analytic literature two different languages, the 
'process' language and the 'object-relation' language. . . . Most 
[analysts] are bilingual and even use both terminologies in the same 
breath without realizing that they are mixing their metaphors. The 
'process' language talks of all mental events, emotions, desires, 
decisions, memories, phantasies, as processes which can be classi- 
fied. . . . The process theory is a direct descendant of Freud's own 
attempts to describe mental phenomena in terms that would link 
them with nervous processes ... a long time he had hopes (as cerebral 


anatomists still have) of describing the emotions, memories and 
desires of our mental life in terms of the electric potentials and 
neuronal circuits that can be studied in the neurological laboratory. 
He called this language his 'metapsychology'. The process theory 
developed out of it. I said . . . that the literal explanation of the 
effect of psycho-analysis is probably something that can be worded 
only in terms of neurology. The process theory looks very like an 
attempt to do this — to substitute the literal truth for metaphors. But 
in fact it is not based on any objective study of the changes that take 
place in the central nervous system during psycho-analysis. This 
kind of observation is not yet possible. Attempts have been made to 
use the electro-encephalograph . . . for this purpose, but without 
impressive results. . . . Thus the process theory is an attempt to 
explain the workings of psycho-analysis in language that is supposed 
to be as close as possible to that of neurology, but — and here is the 
trouble — ^without any means of knowing whether it is anything like 
the truth. It is a metaphor masquerading as the real thing. To my 
mind this is far more dangerous than a metaphor that cannot be 
mistaken for a literal, neurological explanation. 

Thus it appears that Walker still regards neurological explanation 
of mental events as the literal truth and rejects process theory 
because it is not based on objective neurological study, and is 
itself only metaphor. We have, then, literal neurological truth, 
process-theory metaphor and j>ersonal-theory metaphor, and in 
the psychological realm he regards personal-theory metaphor as 
better than process-theory metaphor. I cannot feel satisfied with 
that position, since it implies that literal truth can be stated only 
in materialistic terms, and that to hold that there is a literal psy-i 
chological truth must imply that 'you believe that the human mind 
is a thing separate from the nervous systems of the body and 
brain'. This conclusion does not appear to me necessary. It is 
better to take up the position that literal truth in an ultimate sense 
is impossible since we cannot know 'the-thing-in-itself. In that 
sense all terms are metaphors. In the realm, however, of pheno- 
menal truth, we have no choice but to be dualists in practice even 
if we are monists in theory. We have to take body and mind as 
twin aspects of one reality and study each of them in their own 
terms, since neither of them throw any light on the nature of the 
other. The neurologist would like to reduce mind to matter and 
usually makes the simple assumption that it is so reducible. The 
psychologist does not usually want to reduce matter to mind as 
the idealist philosophers did, though for anything we can prove 
the one position is as defensible as the other, but in practice neither 


is tenable. We have to deal with two qualitatively different aspects 
of reality and should frankly study them as such without making 
unwarrantable assumptions such as that the only literal truth is 
neurological truth while psychological explanation is metaphor. 
The study of the organism is one thing, the study of the person is 
a different thing, even though in the realm of ultimate reality 
organism and person are, we suppose, the same thing. Neurological 
and psychological truth are accepted as relatively literal in their 
own respective spheres. In my opinion, process theory is an 
attempt to find a middle position based on the illegitimate assump- 
tion that the only scientific truth is that which is stated in imper- 
sonal terms, after the pattern of thought appropriate to the study 
of material phenomena in the so-called 'natural sciences'. How- 
ever, psychological phenomena are as 'natural' as physical pheno- 
mena, and have as good a right to be studied in whatever terms 
lead to understanding. The position taken here is that psychology 
is a distinct discipline in its own right, the attempt to reduce it to 
physiology and make it a 'natural science' in the traditional 
sense of that term fails to enlighten us about the very phenomena 
we seek to understand, that all psychological phenomena in 
human beings are, properly speaking, personal phenomena and 
must be studied by means of a personal and not an impersonal 
terminology, and that in its own sphere psychological truth stated 
in personal terms, as in the recently developed 'object-relations 
terminology', is to be accepted as just as much literal truth as is 
neurological truth in its own sphere, and is not to be dismissed 
as metaphor. 

Walker states of the 'object-relations' terminology that : 

This is very largely the creation of two people, Melanie Klein and 
Fairbaim . . . the important thing is the patient's 'object-relations', 
by which they mean, roughly speaking, his attitudes to people. The 
first people with whom the infant comes into contact are his parents, 
and he carries the effect of his relationship with them to the grave. 
This is described in metaphorical terms by saying that in addition 
to the adult relations with the people with whom he is really associa- 
ting, he has also got to cope with an inner world of relations to the 
important figures of his infancy as he saw them. 

But in the realm of psychic phenomena this is a literal fact, not a 
metaphorical statement. The confusion arises out of a failure to 
grasp the significance of Freud's conceptions of 'psychological 
reality and mental dynamism' which, as Brierley points out, 'are 
absolutely incompatible with any of the older conceptions of 
mechanistic materialism. . . . There is as yet little tolerance of 


psychological reality among psychologists and sociologists, and, 
for that matter, still too little among psycho-analysts themselves. 
But it is a fact that mechanistic materialism is now outmoded.' 
(195 1, pp. 154-7.) It is only from the external and material point 
of view, and from the point of view of philosophical materialism, 
that statements about psychological reality in its own appropriate 
terms appeai* to be metaphorical. 

7. Brierley's Process Theory and Personal Theory 

Brierley has discussed this problem extensively and has ex-, 
ix>unded psycho-analysis in both process-theory and personal-^ 
theory terms. She relates the two in the following way. Therapy 
and research both aim at understanding the patient, but under- 
standing a patient is more than intellectual apprehension; it is 
empathy, thinking and feeling en rapport with the patient. Em- 
pathic understanding is akin to identification and produces per- 
sonology, which she regards as 'subjective theory'. On the other 
hand. Intellectual Understanding is more akin to object-relation- 1 
ship and produces metapsychological process theory, which is to * 
be regarded as 'objective theory', i.e. thinking about, rather than 
thinking with, the patient. She writes : i 

Subjective theory deals with the data from the standpoint of the 
living person and should, therefore, express itself in terms belonging 
to experience . . . objective theory deals with the same data from the 
standpoint of a temporarily detached observer. Since its approach is 
essentially impersonal, it should express itself in impersonal language. 


This, however, is a questionable mode of representing the anti- 
thesis. To begin with there is an objective mode of emotional 
relationship as well as an empathic and identificatory one. It is 
essential both to feel with and to feel about a person, in order to 
know him as a person. Neither of these are at the level of scientific 
thinking or theory making. They yield the data about which the 
detached observer must think. In physical science the question of 
empathic understanding of the object does not arise. The electron 
does not feel and the scientific observer cannot feel with it. It is 
doubtful whether he feels much about it either, other than scientific 
interest. Neither feeling with nor feeling about the non-personal 
object is essential to 'knowing' it. It can only be known intel- 
lectually. A person, however, is not 'known' if he is only known 
intellectually; he must be known emotionally as well, for that 
arises out of what is meant by his being a person. The problem 
of emphatic understanding arises only when we deal with the 


living object, and only fully when we deal with the human person. 
Impersonal and purely intellectually detached observation is not 
now adequate to the full apprehension of the object. But we are 
here still at the level of direct experience. 

Empathic understanding and emotional object-relationship are 
not scientific theory; they constitute, practically, the effecting of 
personal relationship without which a person cannot be known as 
a person at all. They may be regarded scientifically as the means 
of collecting data about persons as persons and thus they corre- 
spond to the scientific experiment with the impersonal object. 
Science can deal with persons only through the medium of experi- 
ments in personal relationship, which is what the psychothera- 
peutic relationship is. H. S. Sullivan calls the psychotherapist a 
'participant observer'. This point has been put by Ezriel and Fair- 
bairn in considering the scientific status of the psycho-analytical 
session as a basis for scientific theory. This approach to the object 
of study is not required in dealing with 'things' — atoms, rocks and 
non-personal objects in general. 

The stage of thinking, of scientific theory-making, is one of 
standing back to examine the data collected from the experiment ; 
even though in practice this thinking may be going on at the same 
time as the experiment, it is logically distinguishable. Both the 
physical scientist and the psycho-analyst can conduct his experi- 
ment, and observe and think about what he observes at the same 
time. In both cases the gathering of the data is by subjective ex- 
perience of the experiment which is in the one case an impersonal 
relationship to a non-personal object, and in the other a personal 
relationship with a personal object. In the first case the emerging 
theory will be couched in impersonal terms because the object is 
impersonal. In psychology, however, the theory should be couched 
in terms appropriate to the personal nature of the phenomena 
studied. In both cases, the collection of the data is by subjective 
experience, the making of the theory is by objective intellectual 
thinking by a temporarily detached observer, with this difference 
that in one case the subjective experience was impersonal and in 
the other personal. We can hardly, therefore, with Brierley dis- 
tinguish between subjective and objective theory, for all theory is 

The position may be set out thus : 

(i) Experimental Collection of Data 

{a) Physics. Personal subjective experience of objectively observ- 
ing and experimenting with the non-personal object. 


(b) Psychology. Personal subjective experience of objectively 
observing and dealing with the personal object, plus sub- 
jectively thinking and feeling with the personal object, both 
in the situation of a personal relationship. 

(2) Theory-making by Abstract Thinking 

(a) Physics. Explanatory theory about the non-personal object 
in terms of non-personal processes, couched in impersonal 

(b) Psychology. Explanatory theory about the personal object in 
terms of personal — i.e. motivated — activities (personal pro- 
cesses), couched in personal terms — that is to say in terms 
appropriate to the personal nature of the object. 

'Metapsychology' falls between two stools. It is neither physics 
nor psychology. A generalized or abstract statement about a 
person and his personal processes or motivated activities is not 
necessarily a statement in an impersonal form, as seems to be 
assumed in metapsychology. Brierley's Personology seeks to create 
a science of psychology in terms appropriate to the personal nature 
of what psychology deals with, and is as much 'objective theory' 
as exposition of impersonal process theory. The contrast should 
not be between objective process theory and subjective person- 
ology, but between impersonal process theory and personal process 
theory, of which both are objective theory but only the latter is 

The real issue at stake is the nature of psycho-analysis as psy- 
chological science. Foulkes writes : 'Psycho-analysis does not 
belong exclusively to the natural sciences but to the social sciences 
as well. . . . Dynamic psychology or psycho-analysis needs new 
criteria . . . distinct from those of physics. . . . The concept of 
science might have to be changed so as to do justice to a dynamic 
psychology which is based on the social nature of man, on the 
interpersonal nature of the data.' (1957, pp. 327-9.) 

I would rather say that all sciences are natural sciences, that 
the limited meaning of the term in its traditional usage is not in 
accord with facts, but if that traditional meaning is adhered to, 
then we may say that psycho-analysis, or dynamic psychology, 
does not belong at all to the natural sciences. Natural science 
terminology throws no light on psychological phenomena, i.e. on 
the nature and motivated activities or personal processes of 
persons. Brierley writes : 'Psycho-analytic personology is a psy- 
chology, not an anatomy or physiology, of personality ; it is con- 
cerned with subjective experience and the motivation of 


behaviour.' (1951, p. 125.) By contrast process theory or meta- 
psychology is an attempt to create a psychophysiology, or rather 
a psychology in physiological thought forms and is neither psy- 
chology nor physiology. It would be better to abandon it as a relic 
of the scientific outlook of Freud's day and generation. Freud's 
theory of psychic structure was an attempt to create a true psycho- 
dynamic theory, a psychology of man as a person, after the false 
start of instinct and process theory. In analysing ego-structure 
Freud was dealing with man as a person whose psyche became 
internally differentiated and organized as a result of his experience 
in personal object-relations. He was formulating a new type of 
theory, different in kind from his early theory. If our argument is 
valid, it is to be accepted not as 'metaphorical thinking' but as the 
properly scientific form for a theory of personality. 

All concepts are symbols, but symbol and metaphor are not the 
same thing. At each level of scientific investigation and abstraction, 
symbol-concepts are needed which are appropriate to the subject- 
matter, whether it be nuclear physics, biochemical processes or 
psychological (i.e. personal and motivated) activities. Metapsy- 
chology tends to reify the 'process' as a thing-in-itself in much the 
same way as instincts have been reified. There is nothing specially 
explanatory about the term 'process' ; it is simply a label for 
'activity' of some kind, and activity can be activity of either an 
impersonal or a personal object. Freud's metapsychological 
process theory of organic instinctive tensions, mind as an appara- 
tus of control working by the unpleasure and pleasure principles 
(or rather the tension and discharge principles) tending ulti- 
mately to elimination of all tensions in quiescence and death, 
is a model of mechanical energy displacement and throws no light 
on man as a person whose psychological fate depends on his self- 
realization in good personal relations or his frustration in unsatisfy- 
ing ones. Here the important concepts are needs, purposive 
activities, meanings and significances. Metapsychology abstracts 
from the personal whole and chooses to express what it abstracts 
in impersonal ways. Thus it automatically debars itself from giving 
any account of the personal, which, in human psychology is the 
very thing we are trying to understand. The term 'metapsy- 
chology' itself is questionable. It is formed as a parallel to meta- 
physics which goes beyond physics to philosophy, and it ought to 
mean going beyond psychological science to its philosophical im- 
plications ; but metapsychology is an attempt to go back to 
physics from the properly psychological point of view. Brierley 
writes : 


Processes are initiated by inner and outer stimuli. Analysts, how- 
ever, regard instinct as the prime mover, the continuous stimulus to 
psychic activity. (1951, p. 105.) 

Instinct, therefore, is not regarded as itself psychic activity, not 
as the impulse of a whole psychosomatic self towards an object; 
it is a stimulus operating upon the psychic apparatus from outside 
that apparatus (even though from inside the organism), just as 
external stimuli operate upon the psychic apparatus from outside. 
Here metapsychology lands us in an ultimate body-psyche, or 
matter-mind dualism. Instead of being presented with a personal 
subject owning his own impulses which express his own vital forms 
of activity, we have the internal motive forces of psychic activity 
presented as something external to that activity. We have here the 
basic reason why Freud's ego-psychology was incompatible with 
his instinct theory, for it was in principle a personal theory while 
his instinct theory was a depersonalized process theory. 

Brierley advocates 'metapsychology as process theory' partly 
on the ground that it will appeal to the natural scientist and recon- 
cile him to psychology. She writes : 

Process thinking is a kind of thinking familiar to modern biologists, 
physiologists, and experimental psychologists, and the language of 
our general theory is therefore better known to other scientists than 
the more private clinical jargon that serves us very well but is often 
abhorrent and meaningless to them. (1951, p. 120.) 

In fact, however, it can only go on encouraging them to believe 
that psychology can be reduced to a natural science, and help them 
to avoid the challenge of the necessity to think about 'persons' in 
terms of a 'personal theory' which does not have to be 'a private 
clinical jargon'. The alternative is not between impersonal process 
theory and clinical jargon, but between impersonal process theory 
and a theory of man in terms appropriate to his personal nature. 
To advocate a depersonalized theory on the ground that it will 
appeal to non-psychologists is dangerously reminiscent of the 
compromise which Freud charged against Jung, namely that of 
advocating a desexuaHzed theory on the ground that it would 
appeal more to those who were outside psycho-analysis. 

8. Recent Discussions in 1955-6 

Chapter III, chapter V, section 2, and this chapter have raised 
what must be regarded as the fundamental question for psycho- 
analytical theory, namely its nature as science. This arises out of 
the fact that since Freud's time radical changes have taken place 


in basic scientific concepts, above all in physics where change was 
least of all expected to take place in Freud's day. 

Freud belonged to the era of Helmholtzian physics and physi- 
ology. Behind the work of Helmholtz lies that of Newton one 
hundred and fifty years earlier. Newton gave his complete demon- 
stration of his theory of gravitation in 1687. Helmholtz died in 
1894. By 1905 Einstein propounded his theory of Relativity in- 
itiating a radical revision of all basic physical concepts. Freud's 
scientific orientation belonged to the pre-Einstein era. Fairbaim 
regards the most important effect of that as his divorce of energy 
from structure as seen finally in his concepts of the id on the one 
hand and the ego and super-ego on the other. It reflects a scientific 
ideology which had held sway some two hundred years when 
Freud began to explore the psyche. The Newtonian scheme was 
a dualism of matter, time and space on the one hand and force 
on the other. A natural law was a statement of how absolute 
matter moved in absolute time and in absolute space. These three 
entities were fixed and unchangeable. Yet matter was held to be 
dead, inert, unable to move of itself if at rest or to stop of itself 
if moving. Newton hypothesized a 'force' — the force of gravita- 
tion — to account for change. This gravitational force of attraction 
between any two bodies could be calculated, and it became the 
scientific ideal to account for every variation of movement by a 
single law, that of the force of attraction or gravitation which was 
proportional to the product of the masses of two bodies divided 
by the square of the distance between them which changed as the 
force pulled them towards each other. Other origins of 'force' such 
as electricity, magnetism, radiation, came to be regarded as 
operating in the same way as Newton's gravitational force. Physics 
aimed at one all-embracing law which should explain all things 
as reducible to matter in motion under the influence of force 
(energy). This was the basis of so-called scientific materialism and 
was carried over into Helmholtzian physiology which was the basis 
of Freud's thinking. 

The theory of relativity gave the death-blow to this rigid 
materialism. Matter, space and time ceased to be absolute and 
were found to be themselves changeable or relative to the velocity 
or else absence of movement of the observer. As the velocity of 
motion of a body increases relative to the observer, time and space 
diminish and mass grows greater. Matter, space and time have 
been turned into relations between 'events' so far as our percep- 
tion is concerned. Perception itself takes time, and this is treated 
as a fourth dimension. Objects, so far as their perceived existence 


is concerned, are 'events', and 'events' make up the physical world. 
The old dualism of matter (structure) and force (energy) is re- 
solved away into 'events'. There is no 'matter' or 'structure' 
separate from energy, and there is no 'energy' separate from 
matter or structure. These are two asj>ects of one and the same 
thing, the event. Had Freud been trained in the post-Einstein 
physics of the present day, even if he still took the thought-forms 
of physical science as the basis of his psychological theory, he 
could not have evolved a theory in which psychic energy was con- 
ceived as an id separate and distinct from psychic structure con- 
ceived as an e^o and super-ego, or, as in his original scheme, 
psychic energy conceived as a dynamic unorganized instinctual 
unconscious, and psychic structure represented by the psychic 
apparatus developed to control instinctive tensions. This kind of 
dualism in basic concepts has become untenable. Fairbaim writes: 

Freud's divorce of energy and structure represents a limitation 
imposed upon his thought by the general scientific atmosphere of 
his day. [Op. cit., p. 150.) 1 

E. Jones's biography of Freud enables us to understand why 
Freud's properly psychodynamic analysis made such difficult 
headway against his deej>rooted metapsychological tendency, to 
transfer into the psychological sphere the thought-forms character- 
istic of physical science. It is that which makes necessary the radi- 
cal rethinking of the theories he developed to explain his discoveries 
concerning mental functioning. 

The line of argument followed in this chapter has received 
recently much support, in Britain in articles in the Freud Cen- 
tenary number of The British Journal for the Philosophy of 
Science, May 1956, and in America by Dr. K. M. Colby in a book 
entitled Energy and Structure in Psychoanalysis and in an article 
by Dr. T. Szasz on the concept of Entropy. TTiree of the contribu- 
tions in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, by 
independent students of psycho-analysis, are of especial interest, 
since the philosophical implications of psycho-analysis as a science 
is a subject on which the analyst qua analyst may rightly be ex- 
pected to pay heed to the expert on the philosophy of science who 
has a competent knowledge of psycho-analysis. 

The first two writers deal specificially with the pleasure-pain 
principle, constancy principle or reduction of tension principle as 
the basic concept of Freud's theoretical structure. This concept is 
now known as the principle of Homeostasis and accepted into 
psycho-analysis, as by Franz Alexander who wrote in 1 949 : 


Life consists in a continuous cycle of supply and output of energy 
. . . the primary function of the cerebrospinal and autonomic nervous 
system is to maintain this dynamic equilibrium, which is upset both 
by external stimuli and by the process of living itself. Disturbances of 
equilibrium appear psychologically in the form of needs and wishes 
which seek gratification and serve as the motive of voluntary be- 
haviour. A basic tendency of the organism is to keep these psycho- 
logical tensions at a constant level. Freud borrowed this principle 
from Fechner and called it the 'principle of stability'. Its physio- 
logical counterpart was first recognized by Claude Bernard and 
formulated by Gannon in his principle of 'homeostasis/ the tendency 
of living organisms to preserve internal conditions like temperature 
and the concentration of body fluids at a constant level. The prin- 
ciples of stability and homeostasis are identical, one describing it in 
psychological, the other in physiological terms. The psycho-analytic 
theory of the ego is that its function is to implement the principle of 
stability. (1949, pp. 35-6.) 

Concerning this foundation principle of Freud's theoretical think- 
ing, R. S. Peters (of the Department of Philosophy and Psycho- 
logy, Birkbeck College, University of London), in an article en- 
titled Freud's Theory, vmtes : 

Human beings, like other organisms, tend to preserve a state of 
equilibrium. They are enabled to do this by their nervous system 
which is an apparatus having the function of abolishing stimuli, or 
of reducing excitation to the lowest possible level, an apparatus which 
would even, if this were feasible, maintain itself in an altogether un- 
stimulated condition. Our mental life is a function of this apparatus 
and our experience of pleasure and pain reflects the manner in 
which this mastering of stimuli takes place. (1956, p. 4.) 

Nigel Walker (Chairman, Davidson Clinic, Edinburgh), in a paper 
on Freud and Homeostasis (1956, pp. 61-72), embarks on a 
specific study of this question. He writes : 

Freud's use of the concept of homeostasis, in the hypothesis that 
'the nervous system is an apparatus having the function of abolishing 
stimuli' (Freud, 19 15, C.P. IV, p. 60) is of great interest, not only 
because it represents the pessimistic core of his materialism but also 
because it appears to anticipate by a quarter of a century the 
notions of cybernetics. Although it is usually overlooked in psycho- 
analysts' expositions of psycho-analysis it is the unifying concept that 
links together the v/ish-fulfilment explanation of dreams, the defence 
mechanisms of the ego and the repetition compulsion. (1956, p. 61.) 


Dreaming reduces the tension of unsatisfied wishes by hallucinated 
gratifications and defends sleep against the disturbing demands of 
instincts, just as the defence mechanisms of the ego represent the 
efforts of the central nervous system to escape the impact of those 
same instinctive demands as internal stimuli. Thus the psychic 
apparatus returns to quiescence or stable equilibrium. Walker 
comments : 'This was twenty years before W. B. Cannon invented 
the word "homeostasis" : but the notion is clearly developed in 
Freud's mind' (p. 6i). 

After the first world war Freud brought forward the idea of a 
'repetition-compulsion', impelling 

the organism to repeat earlier experiences, whether pleasant or 
not. . . . Freud was on the point of observing that the central nervous 
system, in addition to the innately homeostatic operations of the 
sleep and defence mechanisms, could actually be *set', deliberately or 
accidentally, to return homeostatically to states acquired during its 
lifetime. Had he done so, he would have been within one step of a 
most fruitful explanation of memory. But his pessimism sidetracked 
him into the notion of the death instinct. He asked himself : 'What 
is the state which the organism is always trying to restore?'; and 
answered: 'The earliest state of all — non-existence, death. (1956, 
p. 62.) 

Walker here supports the argument of this chapter that the death- 
instinct idea is implicit in Freud's pleasure or constancy principle 
and is its logical development. Two problems arise : {a) the suit- 
ability of the biological or physiological principle of homeostasis 
to be carried over into the realm of psychological phenomena, 
and {b) the relation between Freud's choice of this basis for his 
psychological theory, and his pessimism of emotional outlook. 

Freud's pessimism, written large in his estimates of human 
nature in The Future of an Illusion and in his views of the im- 
mutability of instincts, especially sadistic instincts, is clearly re- 
lated to his neurological philosophy and general scientific outlook. 
Either may be regarded as leading logically to the other. Walker 

Even without the death instinct, Freud's conclusions are pessi- 
mistic enough. Even if the goal of the central nervous system is not 
death, but merely 'the abolition of stimuli', this is something which, 
by the values at least of Western European civilization, is not much 
better. We are not offended when we are told how the rest of the 
body operates homeostatically to maintain its temperature, salinity 
and so forth, for it is possible to regard this as an excellent arrange- 


ment for allowing us to get on with the work that really matters, 
whether it is the creation of art, the spreading of a gospel, the better- 
ment of human life, or some less common but equally highbrow task. 
But when we are told that our central nervous system is doing all 
this simply because its slogan is 'anything for a quiet life', we are 
outraged and discouraged. Can this be so? Is this the verdict of 
modern science? {Ibid., p. 63.) 

Freud carried over the principle of homeostasis, which is so 
relevant and illuminating for the study of the biological organism, 
into the realm of psychic Hfe, instead of approaching the latter 
without presuppositions and letting the facts speak for themselves. 
This so dominated his thought that, while he discovered all the 
data essential for the formulation of a properly psychological 
theory of personality, he never produced such a theory. The 
world's greatest psychologist and most intrepid explorer of the 
psychic Ufe remained in his basic oudook a neurologist tied to 
'homeostasis' to the end. 

The effects of this on his theory are brought out plainly by 

The external world, with its reservoir of stimuli, presents itself as 
alien and hostile to the developing ego. But the ego also has to 
defend itself against danger from instinctual wishes whose satisfac- 
tion would bring about disaster in the face of the physical or social 
environment. (1956, p. 6.) 

Thus, because of the rule of the homeostatic principle, both the 
external world which stimulates and the internal needs it plays 
upon, have to be seen not positively as the means to full and satis- 
fying life, but negatively as resented disturbers of the 'homeostatic 
peace' of equilibrium. Peters says further that for Freud : 

The relationship of hate to objects is older than that of love. It is 
derived from the primal repudiation by the narcissistic ego of the 
external world whence flows the stream of stimuli. As an expression 
of the pain reaction induced by objects, it remains in constant, 
intimate relation with the instinct of self-preservation, so that the 
sexual and ego instincts readily develop an antithesis which repeats 
that of love and hate. {Op. cit., p. 9.) 

The irmate pessimism of Freud's total theory springs from the 
fact that his neurological homeostatic principle involved logically 
the ideas that {a) the basic relation between the person and his 
environment is hostile, {b) that hate is more fundamental than 


love, and (c) that the aim of life is the reduction of activity even 
to the point of death. 

Walker defines a 'homeostatic system' as 'one which through 
the operation of a mechanism restores a certain end-state unless 
and until the point of breakdown is reached'. (1956, p. 63.) With 
regard to Freud's assumption that in fact the central nervous 
system does operate as a homeostatic system he writes : 'When we 
turn to science for confirmation or disproof, we are struck by the 
lack of conclusive observations.' {Ibid., p. 66.) After briefly re- 
viewing what psychology and neurology have to contribute, he 
concludes that 'the most we can say is that it is possible to con- 
ceive of Freud's hypothesis being expressed in the language of 
neurology'. {Op. cit., p. 68.) 

Freud's hypothesis makes sense in the language of psychology, 
neurology and cybernetics, but it is curiously hard to extract con- 
firmation of it from any of these sciences. {Ibid., p. 70.) 

And finally : 

It is clear how much more Freud's general hypothesis depends 
on his definition of stimulus than on observation. What made this 
sort of reasoning so dangerously attractive to him was his hankering 
for simplicity — for a unifying equation. {Ibid., p. 71.) 

Unhappily, this simplicity, dubiously achieved on a neurological 
basis, hamstrung his psychological theory, and made it incapable 
of dealing satisfactorily with psychic life qua personal. Homeostasis 
is not a principle that makes sense of personal phenomena. 

The third writer in the Journal referred to is E. H. Hutten 
(Professor of Physics, University of London), in a paper entitled 
'On Explanation in Psychology and Physics', which goes into the 
deeper problem behind the question of whether a physiological 
principle such as homeostasis is adequate when carried over into 
the realm of psychic phenomena. He points out that in psycho- 
analysis we are dealing with phenomena that are said to be 'over- 
determined', i.e. they are not to be traced to one and only one 
single and simple 'cause' but 

there exists more than one set of antecedent conditions, or causes, 
and each set alone is capable of explaining how it [the eff'ect] 
occurs. . . . This disagrees with the ordinary causal explanation as 
we know it from physics. (1956, p. 73.) 

This kind of problem arises, for example, when the same act can 
be produced from any one of several different motives, and this is, 
for psycho-analysis, the typical psychic problem owing to the com- 


plexity of conscious and unconscious levels of motivation, and of 
conflict on both levels. 

Professor Hutten points out that : 'before we can explain any- 
thing we must specify the concepts used for this purpose, and, in 
general, provide a model.' {Ibid., p. 73.) 'Psycho-analysis provides 
a genetic-dynamical model of human personality. The main 
assumptions are about the genesis of mental processes and the 
forces involved in them.' {Ibid., p. 75.) As a minimum outline of 
'the model' he cites three assumptions, that most mental activity is 
unconscious, that it is concerned with basic conflicts concerning 
the ambivalent love-hate of infantile sexuality, and that it can be 
investigated by means of free associations in transference situa- 
tions. 'The model itself functions, in a way, as a non-formalized 
theory.' {Ibid., p. 74.) 'We can discuss and criticize psycho-analy- 
tical explanations only against the background of the genetic- 
dynamical or some similar model.' {Ibid., p. 76.) He points out 
that in this context we speak not 

about causal laws but about the aetiology of a symptom or illness. 
Similarly, instead of description and prediction, we have diagnosis 
and prognosis. . . . Unlike mass points human beings have a history, 
and we cannot possibly hope to predict their future from the present 
alone. {Ibid., p. 76.) 

He makes it clear that the 'single cause' picture of reality in 
natural science depends on 

replacing the actual real process by a simplified, ideal schema. . . . 
We prescribe a closed universe of moving mass-points and fixed 
forces, and this enables us to specify simply boundary conditions and 
initial conditions so that the differential equation describing the 
motion has a unique solution. The behaviour of human beings can- 
not be simplified in this manner; indeed we should not accept an 
explanation that presupposes such a picture. Many stimuli act on us 
and our future does not lie along a single path. {Ibid., pp. 76-7.) 

He regards an aetiological explanation as involving a reference 
to biological, predisposing, precipitating and social conditions 

introduces immediately the so-called plurality of causes — in con- 
trast to the causal scheme of physics. . . . We are able to retrodict in 
a unique manner from the present symptoms to the 'underlying 
causes', at least in principle; and it is this characteristic of unique- 
ness that we customarily demand of a valid explanation. {Ibid., pp. 



Professor Hutten regards Freud's 'determinism' as having nothing 
to do with 'necessity' and writes : 

Neither psychological nor physical causality implies a meta- 
physical belief in 'the iron rule of law'. The import of psycho- 
analytic determinism lies elsewhere : what is strict about it is, so to 
speak, not the rule of law but the rule for collecting evidence. . . . 
Everything a human being may feel, say or do — or not do, though 
the occasion calls for action — provides legitimate data for the 
theory. . . . Freud's determinism merely implies that anything con- 
nected with human behaviour can, and must, be used in support of 
a psycho-analytic hypothesis. {Ibid., pp. 78-9.) 

Furthermore, the body-mind problem is obviated for when we 
have collected the evidence cohiprising the whole of human be- 
haviour : 

We must always express whatever we observe by means of the 
concepts of the theory we wish to apply. It is exactly one function of 
the model to allow us to do so; we describe all happenings in terms 
of psychical reality and so can dispense with the frame-work of 
physical space-time which does not apply to mental phenomena. 
{Ibid., p. 80.) 

Professor Hutten here uses Freud's work in a much more radical 
way than did Freud himself to establish psychology, and speci- 
fically psycho-analysis and psychodynamic theory, as a science 
and a discipline in its own right for which the concepts of physical 
science are irrelevant. He accepts the multiplicity of causes and 
over-determination as essential to psychological theory, and in no 
way militating against its scientific status. 

Human actions are affected by cultural, social, economic, physical 
and other factors. . . . Classical physics is taken as a standard when 
it is said that a scientific theory must explain a given phenomenon 
in one way only; but this is not really true even there, and certainly 
not in modem physics. Underneath this ideal is, I think, the meta- 
physical belief in the mechanical determinism of past centuries, 
according to which everything in the world is connected by the iron 
chain of necessity. Multiple explanations are acceptable and valid 
as long as each of them is open to observation and experiment. {Ibid., 
pp. 80-82.) 

In psychology the situation is not as simple as in physics, where we 
have a single set of fixed static (initial and boundary) conditions and 
constant forces. {Ibid., p. 83.) 


In psychology it often happens that because of the conflict between 
conscious and unconscious levels of motivation and intention 
'opposite hypotheses about the future behaviour of a person' 
{Ibid., p. 82) can both be true, and also that 

the same set of data leads to two exactly opposite results . . . [which] 
shows that the processes underlying human behaviour are dynamical 
in the sense that they represent a conflict or a tension between two 
poles. {Ibid., p. 82.) 

Hutten concludes, therefore, that 'it is justified to say that over- 
determination is accessible — at least in principle — to observation 
and experiment'. {Ibid., p. 83.) In psycho-analysis : 

A model of human personality is presupposed that includes various 
psychic levels and structures and especially the idea of unconscious 
conflict. The diagnosis and prognosis must be put in terms of a 
process rather than of opposing constant forces and things. {Ibid., 
pp. 83-4.) 

He uses the term 'process' in opposition to that of 'entity' (such 
as 'an instinct'), and is stressing the fact that in psycho-analysis 
we always deal with a 'process' — that is, a 'conflict', i.e. a personal 
process. We cannot resolve this conflict 

into the two polarities and treat each of them as an independent 
static entity. . . . The usual cause-and-effect language breaks down 
when we want to treat of processes in which we cannot recognize 
immediately some constant element. It works only if the process is 
no more than the displacement of a permanent thing in space-time 
under the influence of a constant force. This is largely true for 
physics but even there exist examples when this no longer holds. . . . 
A psycho-analytic explanation is about a conflict or a process. We 
may express the hypothesis in terms of the relative strength of the 
two opposites. {Ibid., p. 84.) 

The upshot is that the terms of physical science and the physical 
cause-and-effect type of explanation are not relevant or suitable 
to psychic phenomena. Psycho-analysis provides a new type of 
model for pereonality as a complex of various psychic levels and 
structures that enables the phenomena of personal living — i.e. 
those of conscious and unconscious conflict — to be explained on 
the basis of over-determination and plurality of causes, 'cause' 
being no longer understood in the physical sense. Thus, though 
Freud both created a new model for psychic phenomena and at 
the same time sought to conceive of it in the old terminology of 


physical science, he really paved the way for the thorough emanci- 
pation of dynamic psychology as a science of personality with a 
right to its own appropriate terminology. 

Dr. K. Af. Colby in Energy and Structure in Psychoanalysis 
(1955) gives systematic consideration to the problems raised in 
this chapter. He regards metapsychology as an attempt to give 
an account of psycho-analysis in terms of pure science, and he 
selects psychic energy and psychic structure as its basic postulates. 
The dynamic-genetic, topographic and economic approaches to 
psychic events form three basic viewpoints in conceptualization, 
showing that Freud saw that one set of concepts could not give a 
complete account of such complex and diverse data. The dynamic- 
genetic and economic viewpoints deal with the energy aspect, and 
the topographic viewpoint deals with the structural aspect of 
psychic phenomena. Dealing with the relationship between psy- 
chological and neurophysiological aspects of the human organ- 
ism, with its central governing agency, the central nervous system, 
he says that some of its functions such as thought and conscious- 
ness are not satisfactorily dealt with in biochemical and neuro- 
logical terms. Psycho-analysis must use a different language and 
deal with such data on a different level of abstraction, which lies 
between the neurological and social levels. 

What we theorize about is in one sense the brain, but in another 
sense neurones are not meaningful on the properly psychological 
level. This question of the level of conceptual abstraction proper 
to psychological study is the primary theoretical question that 
psycho-analysis has to settle. Colby points out that at each level of 
abstraction new characteristics appear, requiring new terms for 
their study. This question is discussed by T. S. Szasz. 

Psychology . . . [is] an area of enquiry concerned with experiences 
in their process of transition from affect and imagery to verbal and 
other symbolic representation. By agreeing to such a conception of 
psychology — and psychiatry — one thereby puts a limit on the degree 
of abstraction to which one can subject human experience and still 
consider the treatment to be 'psychological'. In other words mathe- 
matics can function as a tool in physics and in astronomy without 
the identity of those sciences suffering thereby. Psychology cannot 
so use mathematics without altering its own identity. It appears that 
in psychology the very process of expressing experiences in highly 
abstract symbols — even if they pertain to phenomena which are 
ordinarily thought of as psychological — alters one's conception of 
the nature of the problem. (Szasz, 1956, p. 199.) 

Attempts to make psychology more 'objective' . . . run the risk 


that in so doing the subject-matter becomes altered and can no 
longer be considered to be psychology. (Szasz, 1956, p. 200.) 

This would appear to be Colby's position, and therefore it is 
somewhat disappointing to find him merely adopting the terms 
of the earlier Freudian metapsychology with a view to improving 
their meaning. He works still with the idea of a Psychic Ap- 
paratus, not a Person. He does not recognize that Freud's 
mechanistic and materialistic term 'apparatus' with all its neuro- 
logical and physiological implications, is of such a degree of 
abstraction, and reduction of psychic phenomena to lower levels 
of integration, that in using it what we are dealing with ceases 
to be psychology. This is apparent when Colby has to deal with 
perception as an active function. It is not an apparatus passively 
receiving stimuli and operating defences to ward them off. The 
*pereon' psycho-analysis studies goes out to meet the external 
world and we have to conceptualize what Colby calls his 'pro- 

For this, the psychological level, the concept of an 'apparatus' 
is inadequate. We need, not an impersonal term, but a new type 
of term that can do justice to personal phenomena. Colby works 
out what he feels to be an improved model of the psychic apy- 
paratus. One feels, however, that the chief value of his work lies 
in the first half of the book where he arrives at the same con- 
clusions as Fairbaim had already done as regards the rejection of 
any separation of energy and structure. He criticizes the orthodox 
psycho-analytical theory which works with the idea of 'instinctual 
energies' flowing into the ego or psychic apparatus like water 
into pipe-lines. He does not, however, see any inconsistency in 
attributing such personal functions as the active organizing of 
experience to an 'apparatus'. Such an entity is not any longer 
suitably called an 'apparatus' and, if we use such terms, as Szasz 
puts it, 'one alters one's conception of the nature of the problem'. 
We are making personal data fit an impersonal theory, not de- 
veloping a theory suitable to the data. When Colby recognizes 
that many thinkers do not seem able to grasp what is meant by 
explanation on the psychic level and that we cannot afford to be 
limited by their limitations in theory, we would expect something 
different from another model of a psychic apparatus, his cyclic- 
circular model. 

Colby's contribution deals with two main points, first the 
insistence that structure and energy cannot be separated, 
and second the attempt to provide a new scientific model for 
human j>ersonality to remedy the defects in Freud's id-ego^super- 


ego model. On the first point he holds that psycho-analysis must 
work with a theory of dynamic structure in which energy and 
structure are never considered in separation from one another as 
is the case with Freud's energetic if chaotic id, and organized, 
structuralized but energyless ego and super-ego. Adopting the 
term 'cathexis-energy' to denominate psychic energy, Colby 
points out that energy and structure can be separated as con- 
cepts but in reality cannot exist apart. Energy of any kind per- 
forms work only by operating in a structure, and a structure is 
impotent without energy. That is exactly Fairbaim's position, 
called by him ^dynamic structure'. 

The question of instinct illustrates the problem. Colby surveys 
various instinct-theories and shows that Freud treated instincts as 
drives having a direction or aim in themselves, and flowing into 
the psychic apparatus from outside, whereas in fact energy purely 
by itself can have no specific aim and could only be dissipated. 
Thus he holds that instinct or drive is always structured energy, 
and that only a theory of dynamic structure can deal with psychic 
phenomena. Pure energy is an abstraction, a concept only. Colby 
regards drives as structured parts of the psychic apparatus with 
their own energy, not, as Freud did, separate psychic entities 
invading it from outside. For these structural components he uses 
the term *schemas' as units in a whole organizational pattern. 
This is the opposite of Freud's view of the id as chaotic and un- 
organized energy outside the ego. He does not regard aggression 
as an instinct or primary drive, but rather as a means, not an end, 
to be used in the service of any aim at need. He limits the term 
'instinct' or 'drive' to stand for the psychic representations of 
inherited bodily requirements which call for bodily activity in 
the outer world. He classifies these, as four Maintenance Drive 
schemas to breathe, sleep, ingest and excrete, and two Reproduce 
tion Drive schemas to mate and rear. He. regards pleasure, not 
with Freud, as the end aimed at, but with Fairbaim, and indeed 
all non-hedonists among the philosophers, as the accompaniment 
of the fulfilment of all drive-aims. Therefore, he points out, since 
not all drives are sexual, not all pleasure can be treated as by 
definition sexual. Colby's theory and classification of instincts 
seems to me the most useful so far proposed. 

Thus, it seems, that criticism of the inadequacy of Freud's 
pioneer concepts^ converging from various quarters orthodox 
and neo-Freudian, is leading to views that supersede Freud's 
metapsychological instinct-theory, and his separation of energy 
and structure, or drives and controls, in terms of the id on the 
one hand and the ego and super-ego on the other, in favour of a 


unitary view of the psyche as a dynamic structure. What is still 
at issue is whether this dynamic structure in its development and 
functioning is to be described by means of an impersonal process 
theory which uses some such mechanical notion as that of a 
psychic apparatus as a scientific model, or whether 'psychological' 
and 'personal' will come to be recognized as equivalent in mean- 
ing, and a personal model of the psyche be achieved. Colby re- 
gards Freud's earlier models, the first neurological model of The 
Project for a Scientific Psychology (1895), and the second and 
apparently more psychological model set forth in The Interpreta- 
tion of Dreams, Chapter 7 (1900), which Colby calls The Picket 
Model, as superseded by Freud's third model, the endopsychic 
structural scheme of id-ego-super-ego. The first model was 
frankly neurological but he thinks that Freud did not really 
abandon it as much as he appeared to do' in the second model. 
This is a model of the flow of mental processes, initiated by 
external stimuli, from the perceptual to the motor end of the 
psychic apparatus, the mid regions of the apparatus comprising 
memory traces, the imconscious, the preconscious and the con- 
scious, with the censor standing guard on the threshold of the 
unconscious to control what emerges. 

There is an approach here to psychic structure which, how- 
ever, is specifically developed only as the basis of the third model. 
This in turn Colby regards as inadequate, and calls for new struc- 
tural concepts to save our theory from fossilization, as indeed did 
Freud himself (1938). Having mentioned the theoretical impossi- 
bility of a completely chaotic and unorganized id as part of a 
structural scheme, he also suggests that the id-ego^super-ego model 
is too simple to represent the complexity of psychic reality and 
activity. What then is the next step? What kind of model is now 
needed to do justice to the study of human personality in its 
dynamic aspects of feeling and striving? Colby proposes a new 
*cyclic-circular model' which aims to represent, as did Freud's 
second model, the movement of psychic processes along a psychic 
apparatus or system from the sensory to the motor end. Is such a 
model what is needed for specifically psycho-analytical purposes, 
i.e. the understanding of the motivational life and the dynamic 
structure of the human person? R. F. J. Withers, reviewing 
Colby's book in The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 
(1956? PP- iio~i3)5 regards his discussion on the concepts of 
energy, structure, instincts and drives as of great importance, but 
criticizes Colby's model as involving 'the confusion of aims be- 
tween model-building and statement-forming'. Colby should be 
talking about 'types of statement and not about types of cogs in a 


sort of psychic engine'. Colby himself describes his model as 
reducing the structural organization of the psyche to fixed parts 
and moving parts. This is so conceived that he can draw a dia- 
gram of it of a wholly mechanical kind. This may be useful for 
some purposes but it is not a model of the 'personal' tyf>e adum- 
brated by Freud when he represented by means of the super-ego 
concept a psychic development through the structural internaliza- 
tion of external ego^object relationships. Colby's model is a regres- 
sion from Freud's tripartite model back to the earlier impersonal 
psychic apparatus model. Freud's third model moved towards 
representing the human psyche as a functioning person develop- 
ing an endopsychic structure under the impact of object-rela- 
tions experience. Surely, the course of development of the theoreti- 
cal problem points rather to a further development beyond, 
though of the same type as, Freud's tripartite model which is 
essentially personal, Colby has not grasped the fact that this is 
the specific psycho^analytical line of progress. He falls into the 
trap of regarding Freud's personal terminology in the id-ego- 
super-ego scheme as personification and anthropomorphism. This 
is a repetition of objections already discussed. He has not recog- 
nized that the real issue at stake is that which is the subject of 
this chapter, the question whether psycho-analytical theory 
should be cast in personal or impersonal terms. He complains 
that since Freud put forward his id-ego-super-ego scheme, further 
work has only aimed at clarifying and reformulating this model 
and no new model has been suggested. This, however, is what is 
still most required and not a new model, for, in principle, it is a 
model of the psyche functioning as a person. It is a misfortune 
that Colby was not aware of the prior work of Fairbaim ten 
years earlier, especially as in other respects he is so close to Fair- 
baim in his basic approach to these problems. Fairbaim's scheme 
of endopsychic structure (see chapter XV) is in essence exactly a 
clarification and reformulation of Freud's tripartite model, which 
represents the activities of the psyche as carried on at a completely 
personal level in terms of object-relationships in both the internal 
and external affairs of the psyche. Yet, in my opinion, it is a 
revision strictly in Hne with Freud's own new departure and pro- 
vides an example of what a genuinely personal model of the 
structural organization of the psyche is like. 

II. Antithesis. Dynamic Psychasociology 

Chapter VIII 



(Adler, Karen Horney, Erich Fromm) 

W E shall group together four writers in this section : Adler, 
Karen Horney, Erich Fromm and Harry Stack Sullivan. Though 
the last three would hardly regard Adler as their spiritual father, 
they do, nevertheless, pursue his general type of approach and the 
orientation of all four has a sociological trend in common. They 
do not deny unconscious motivation, yet they sit so loosely to 
Freud's discoveries in 'depth-psychology' that they do not really 
make use of 'the unconscious' in the all-important Freudian sense 
of the term. They analyse conscious and pre-conscious motivations, 
and particularly analyse the more deeply unrealized character- 
traits manifested by an individual in his human relationships in 
the present day. Valuable as this is, we feel that their contribution 
is condemned to an ultimate superficiality from the point of view 
of psychodynamic theory. Whatever inadequacies may be dis- 
covered in Freud's theories, his was the true pioneering work, and 
the most fruitful developments have come by building on his 
foundations, as Melanie Klein, Fairbaim and others are to-day 
doing, in this matter of 'depth-psychology', rather than abandon- 
ing them as did Adler, Homey, Fromm and Sullivan. 

In her first book Karen Homey raised the question 'whether 
my interpretation is somewhat Adlerian?' Her answer was : 

There are some similarities with certain points that Adler stressed, 
but fundamentally my interpretation rests on Freudian groimd. Adler 
|is in fact a good example of how even a productive insight into psy- 
Ichological processes can become sterile if pursued onesidedly and 
Iwithout foundation in the discoveries of Freud. (1937, pp. ix-x.) 

lln her last book. Neurosis and Human Growth (1951), she 
iDresented an analysis of the adult neurotic character in its present- 
liay human relationships which goes far beyond anything Adler 
iittempted or could have achieved at that date in its subtlety and 


complexity. Yet she had moved much farther from the basic 
Freudian position than she perhaps foresaw in 1 937. 

These four writers provide a dynamic psychology of the con- 
scious and pre-conscious ego in its human relationships. They 
supply a fund of acute analytical observation as to the character- 
structure and motivations of man as a social being Hving in 'inter- 
personal relationships' with his fellows in the external 'here and 
now'. From the point of view of theory, however, they illustrate 
the influence of sociology on psychopathology rather than the 

Ad ler did mor ^ fh^rx snhstitnt e the power-drive ior the Freudian 
sex-dr ive^ He raised the whole question of the re lationships of a 
' persnn' as ^ ,sf>r ial unit interactinja: with ottier 'persons^ irrthe 
world of to-day, when he stressed the importance ot^elings of 
inf efiority" and the urgent need to overc^we-tFTXOffipensale'tbr 
them, inis could be done by achieving a sense of power in some 
way which would be significant for the individual, either by over- 
coming his particular inferiority or by giving him value in the eyes 
of others in some alternative direction. Adler raised the quest ian^of 
'ego-psychology^ as_against the 'psychology of the unconscious'. 
In fact, feelings of inferiority have far deeper causes ^an Adler 
ever suspected. 

Erich Fromm, and Karen Homey who began as an orthodox 
Freudian and was influenced by Fromm's sociological approach, 
formally discarded Freud's instinct-theory but found no true sub- 
stittiTe f or it bymeans of which^theyTlllght give an account of the 
deep unconscious. Instead, they put forward a theory of neuro sis 
based onthe analysis of compulsive (i.e. neurotic) character-trends 

people, originally in childhood, but nowin the present day7~and 
in hisj)articular social ¥etting. We may there fore call th em palong 
with SuHivan wKlnTa^ifTerent way followed a similar path, the 
'Culture-Pattem' Group of Character Analysts. Homey and 
Fromm musT have"°been. infttrenccd by Fieud*s developing ego- 
psychology, but made more use of sociolog ical findings than did 
Freud. This has come to be characteristic of a large group of 
broadly psycho-analytical therapists in America. Possibly Adler 
himself, who settled in America later in life, did something to 
prepare the soil for this development by his general influence. 
American psycho-analysts seem to be divided into two large 
groups : the orthodox, reinforced by European analysts who es- 
caped from the Nazis and who remain remarkably true to the 
theories of Freud himself, oflfering only small critical improvements 
of classical psycho-analytic teaching ; and those who have devd-i 


oj>ed away from the 'depth-psychology' of Freud and substituted 
a psychology of ego-development under the weight of cultural 
pressures. Dr. Thompson's Psychoanalysis; Evolution and De- 
velopment is a valuable summary of their views. Much of what 
they say by way of criticism of Freudian psychobiology is im- 
portant, and we have already taken account of it in earlier 
chapters. Their theory, however, does not provide a satisfactory 
alternative theory for the problems that Freud's depth-psychology 
sought to solve. 

Horney regards the tracing out of childhood history as im- 
portant iPor finding the starting-point of given character-trends, 
but she does not appear to appreciate the perpetuation of the 
'childhood situation' per se into the present day in the deep un- 
conscious. YqtJ^y, thj^, character formed in childhood, as a result 
of problems in relationships with parents and others at that time, 
is brought forward into adult life, developed and consolidated, and 
it becomes the character with which we react to other people in 
die present day. She rightly regards adult motivations as what 
G. W. AUport would call 'a post-instinctive phenomenon' but, 
using his terms, we may say thaSHomey's H a tKeofy of Ihe 'func- 
tionaljautonomy' of character trends formed in early life. The 
uncohscions'is no longer thedeep'unconscloiis of Nation to child- 
hood love-objects in Freud's sense ; it is rather the unrealized and 
unrecognized aspects of contemporary character-structure, an 
inability to see in oneself what may be visible to other people. 

There is an important implication here for sociology. Homey 
corrects the somewhat one-sided 'depth' emphasis of orthodox 
Freudianism with regard to both biological determination and 
infantile conflicts. 

The disputable aspects of [Freud's] findings concern mainly three 
assumptions : that an inherited set of reactions is more important 
than the influence of the environment; that the influential experi- 
ences are sexual in nature; that later experiences to a large extent 
represent a repetition of those had in childhood. Even if these debat- 
able issues are discarded the essence of Freud's findings still remains : 
that character and neuroses are moulded by early experiences to an 
extent hitherto unthought of. (1939, pp. 32-3.) 

On the first of these three points we shall agree with Karen Horney 
but must part company with her on the rest. 

Concerning 'biological determination' Homey writes : 

The reverse side of (Freud's) biological orientation is a lack of 
sociological orientation, and thus he tends to attribute social 


phenomena primarily to psychic factors and these primarily to 
biological (libido theory). This tendency has led psycho-analytical 
writers to believe, for example, that wars are caused by the working 
of the death instinct, that our present economic system is rooted in 
anal-erotic drives, that the reason the machine age did not start two 
thousand years ago is to be found in the narcissism of that period. 
Freud sees a culture not as the result of a complex social process 
but primarily as the result of biological drives which are repressed 
or sublimated, with the result that reaction formations are built up 
against them. The more complete the suppression of these drives, 
the higher the cultural development. Since the capacity for sub- 
limation is limited, and since the intensive suppression of primitive 
drives without sublimation may lead to neurosis, the growth of 
civilization must inevitably imply a growth of neurosis. Neuroses are 
the price humanity has to pay for cultural development. The implicit 
theoretical pre-supposition underlying this train of thought is a 
belief in the existence of biologically determined human nature, or, 
more precisely, a belief that oral, anal, genital and aggressive drives 
exist in all human beings in approximately equal quantities. Varia- 
tions in character formation from individual to individual, as from 
culture to culture, are due, then, to the varying intensity of the 
suppression required, with the additional qualification that this 
suppression affects the kinds of drives in varying degrees. Historical 
and anthropological findings do not confirm such a direct relation 
between height of culture and the suppression of sexual or aggressive 
drives. (1937, pp. 282-3.) 

We have to take a definite step beyond Freud ... in his over- 
emphasis on the biological origin of mental characteristics. . . . He 
has assumed that the instinctual drives or object-relationships that 
are frequent in our culture are biologically determined *human 
nature'. . . . Freud's disregard of cultural factors not only leads to 
false generalizations, but to a large extent blocks an understanding 
of the real forces which motivate our attitudes and actions. (1937, 
pp. 20-1.) 

We agree with Homey on this point. Maclver, the sociologist, 
writes : 'It remains gravely doubtful whether a study of physio- 
logical structures and processes can help us to interpret or under- 
stand the processes of consciousness.' (1937, p. 20.) 

With regard to the influence of childhood Homey says : 

The relation between childhood experiences and later conflicts 
is much more intricate than is assumed by those psycho-analysts who 
proclaim a simple cause and effect relationship. Though experiences 
in childhood provide determining conditions for neuroses they are 


nevertheless not the only cause of later difficulties. When we focus 
our attention on the actual neurotic difficulties we recognize that 
neuroses are generated not only by incidental individual experiences, 
but also by the specific cultural conditions under which we live. In 
fact the cultural conditions not only lend weight and colour to the 
individual experiences but in the last analysis determine their par- 
ticular form. It is an individual fate, for example, to have a domineer- 
ing or 'self-sacrificing' mother, but it is only under definite cultural 
conditions that we find domineering or self-sacrificing mothers. 

Though I hold that a complete understanding of a neurosis is not 
possible without tracing it back to its infantile conditions, I believe 
that the genetic approach, if used one-sidedly, confuses rather than 
clarifies the issue, because it leads then to a neglect of the actually 
existing unconscious tendencies. . . . Genetic understanding is useful 
only as long as it helps the functional understanding. (1937, p. 33.) 

As a general statement this is certainly true. A one-sided genetic 
approach is too limited to cover all the relevent factors, because 
any form of one-sided approach is too limited. Human relation- 
ship situations in childhood and also in the present day have both 
got to be taken into account together if we are to understand the 
outbreak of a neurosis. But when Homey writes : 'Though experi- 
ences in childhood provide determining conditions for neuroses, 
they are nevertheless not the only cause of later difficulties', that 
statement is ambiguous. The other causes Homey would include 
are the pressures of the cultural environment on the adult, but 
those pressures do not make all adults neurotic. A mature and 
stable adult may well experience anxieties and frustrations in the 
cultural environment in which he lives, but he copes with these 
without developing a clinical neurosis. The adult who reacts to his 
cultural milieu by developing a neurosis is the adult in whom the 
essence of the neurosis was created or laid down in the emotional 
constitution of his personaUty in childhood. The frustrations of 
adult life occasion the outbreak of neurosis rather than cause the 
neurosis itself. The neurosis has been at best latent, repressed and 
over-compensated ever since childhood and is reactivated by stress 
in adult life. 

This does not mean that cultural conditions are excluded as 
causes of neurosis in a more ultimate sense, but their pressure on 
the individual is causal for neurosis in a fundamental way more 
in childhood than in adult life. Moreover, the most important 
aspect of this disturbing cultural pressure is its indirect impact on 
the child through the parents, long before the child comes under 


direct pressure from the larger community with its mores and 
public opinion as he grows older. Culture patterns are mediated 
first by mothering. Long before the infant has any awareness of 
neighbours or of the larger outer world, the mother's handling of 
the child is being determined by her anxiety as to what others will 
think of the way she 'trains' her baby, and by the extent to which 
the accepted cultural norms of behaviour have become stamped 
on the mother's personality. The frustrating aspects of the mother- 
child relationship become incorporated in the growing structure 
of the child's personality, in the form of repressed emotional ties 
to parents which have specific relationship patterns. 

The Oedipus complex is a case in point. Here a child develops 
an intense frustrated need for the parent of the opposite sex, 
accompanied by a hostile, rivalrous relationship to the parent of 
the same sex, and this is perpetuated by repression in the adult 
unconscious. It constitutes a latent neurosis which is the real cause 
of the adult overt neurosis which will break out if and when 
environmental conditions in later life play upon it and reactivate 
it. But the unfortunate owner of a repressed Oedipus complex may 
not wait for any extraordinary difficulties in real life to intervene. 
When early bad-object relationships have become encapsulated 
in the unconscious, the potential neurotic will unwittingly mould 
later situations and experiences to fit the pattern of the internally 
preserved early ones. An Oedipus complex significance is forced 
upon relationships and situations in adult life which do not of 
themselves necessarily carry that meaning. Homey casts doubt on 
the view that 'later experiences to a large extent represent a 
repetition of those had in childhood', but the clinical evidence of 
deep analysis confirms that this is a fact. The neurotic pereon, as it 
were, will have it so without realizing it. There may be any 
number of differences in detail between the early situations and 
the later ones, but the point is that the basic emotional pattern, 
the dynamic hard core, turns out to be the same, and often with 
startling and uncanny exactness. This reliving of the past in the 
present can be ignored only by losing touch with the deep uncon- 
scious as Homey does. We must recognize the great importance of 
this point for sociology, for its ramifications in social phenomena 
are endless. 

Karen Homey is able to allow sociology to influence her psycho- 
pathology, but because she discards the deep unconscious she is 
unable to produce a psychopathology which can have a profound 
influence on sociology. The net result is a too exclusively environ- 
mental and cultural conception of neurosis and patterns of re- 
lationships, and an inability to judge clearly as to whether a 


culture itself may be neurotic. Since neurosis is itself a social 
problem of the first magnitude, we must, however, look carefully 
at what Homey has to say about the relationships between culture 
and neurosis. She writes : 

A great frequency of neuroses and psychoses in a given culture is 
one of the indicators showing that something is seriously wrong with 
the conditions under which people live. It shows that the psychic 
difficulties engendered by the cultural conditions are greater than 
the average capacity of people to cope with them. (1939, pp. 178-9.) 

Her theory of neurosis, however, hardly gives an adequate con- 
ceptual tool with which to work on this problem, for it is con- 
cerned almost wholly with the influence of cultural factors on the 
shaping of neurosis, and says little about psychopathological 
factors shaping cultures. She writes : 

Three main sets of factors are to be taken into account; those 
which represent the matrix out of which a neurosis may grow; those 
which constitute the basic neurotic conflicts and the attempts at their 
solution; and those entailed in the fagade which the neurotic shows 
to himself and others. A neurotic development in the individual arises 
ultimately from feelings of alienation, hostility, fear and diminished 
self-confidence. These attitudes do not themselves constitute a 
neurosis, but they are the soil out of which a neurosis may grow, since 
it is their combination which creates a basic feeling of helplessness 
towards a world conceived as potentially dangerous. It is basic 
anxiety or basic insecurity which necessitates the rigid pursuit of 
certain strivings for safety and satisfaction, the contradictory nature 
of which constitutes the core of neuroses. Consequently the first group 
of factors bearing on neuroses which is to be looked for in a culture 
is the circumstances which create emotional isolation, potential hos- 
tile tension between people, insecurity and fears, and a feeling of 
individual powerlessness. (1939, pp. 172-3.) 

That is undoubtedly true, and Homey fastens oh the essentially 
competitive nature of Western civilization at this point as the 
main cause. Comp>etitiveness pervades political, economic, social 
and sexual relationships, along with gross inequalities both as to 
possessions and opportunities, and the possibilities of exploitation. 
In such an atmosphere individuals react with hostility, insecurity 
and impaired self-confidence, which last is increased by the 
'ideology that success is dependent only on personal eflficiency' and 
the 'contradiction between factually existing hostile tensions and 
the gospel of brotherly love.' (1939, pp. 173-5.) Furthermore : 


The most obvious influence of cultural factors on neuroses is to be 
seen in the image the neurotic is anxious to present to himself and 
others. This image is determined mainly by his fear of disapproval 
and his craving for distinction. Consequently it consists of those quali- 
ties which in our culture are rewarded with approval and distinction, 
such as unselfishness, love for others, generosity, honesty, self-control, 
moderation, rationality, good judgment. Without the cultural 
ideology of unselfishness, for instance, the neurotic would not feel 
compelled to keep up an appearance of not wanting anything for 
himself, not only hiding his egocentricity but also suppressing his 
natural desires for happiness. Thus the problem of the influence of 
cultural conditions in creating neurotic conflicts is far more complex 
than Freud sees it. It involves no less than a thorough analysis of a 
given culture from such points of view as these : In what ways and 
to what extent are interpersonal hostilities created in a given cul- 
ture? How great is the personal insecurity of the individual and 
what factors contribute towards making him insecure ? What factors 
impair the individual's inherent self-confidence? What social pro- 
hibitions and tabus exist and what is their influence in bringing about 
inhibitions and fears? What ideologies are effective and what goals 
or rationalizations do they provide? What needs and strivings are 
created, encouraged or discouraged by the given conditions? (1939, 
pp. 176-7.) 

This is a highly important emphasis and it is unlikely that psycho- 
anadysis will be able henceforth to ignore this line of approach. It 
is quite properly complementary to the genetic line of investi- 
gation. But beyond this point we begin to feel difficulties. The 
problem is also far more complex than Homey sees it. Her theory 
seems to resolve itself into the view that culture moulds the char- 
acter which in turn is incapable of dealing with the culture, and 
that this explains neurosis. Undoubtedly Homey steered investi- 
gation into the right direction when she stated that neurosis arose 
out of disturbances in human relationships. In Our Inner Conflicts 
(1946) she worked out the view that the basic neurotic conflict is 
between aggressive and compliant reactions. Caught in a per- 
j>etual disturbing oscillation between these two equally unsatis- 
factory ways of dealing with other people, the neurotic may then 
retreat into detachment — i.e. give up human relationships as far 
as possible and deal with life in an impersonal way — so as to 
escape anxiety and conflict. In her last book. Neurosis and Human 
Growth (1951), she developed this along a line that somewhat 
pushes the primacy of human relations into the background. The 
neurotic, caught in such distressing conflicts with other people, 


ceases to accept his own real feelings and impulses, ceases to know 
himself, and builds up an idealized image of himself ^ he thinks 
he ought to be, instead of discovering his own proper nature and 
potentialities. He thus becomes a more and more frantically un- 
real person as time goes on, hates his 'real' self in the name of his 
'idealized' self. Self-realization of the 'real' self has now become 
the goal of therapy, in contrast to a compulsive conformity with 
the culturally imposed patterns and ideologies found in the 
neurosis. Self-realization of the 'real' self — i.e. of the individual's 
actual 'nature' — is certainly of the greatest importance, and is an 
emphasis now coming more and more to the forefront in psycho- 
analysis, as for example in the work of Winnicott, but it is also 
imperative to recognize that it can happen only in the medium of 
personal relationships. The two problems of achievement of self- 
realization and achievement of good personal relationships cannot 
be separated, for they are two sides of the same process. 

At this point Homey seems to be involved in a contradiction. 
In The Neurotic Personality of Our Titne (1937), she wrote: 
'Feelings and attitudes are to an amazingly high degree moulded 
by the conditions under which we Uve, both cultural and in- 
dividual . . . neuroses are deviations from the normal pattern of 
behaviour.' {Ibid., p. 19.) 'Neurotic persons are different from the 
average individuals in their reactions', so that, concerning people 
with inhibitions on ambition or on the desire to earn more money, 
she says : 'The reason that we should call such persons neurotic is 
that most of us are familiar, and exclusively familiar, with a 
behaviour pattern that implies wanting to get ahead in the world, 
to get ahead of others, to earn more money than the bare mini- 
mum for existence.' {Ibid., pp. 13-14.) But now, in her last book, 
it appears that neurotics are those who accepted the prevailing 
patterns and idealogy of their culture instead of developing their 
own personality. No doubt Homey would answer that our culture 
is in conflict with itself at this point and that it is that conflict 
which divides the individual against himself and drives him into 

There is certainly much truth in all this, and Karen Homey's 
analysis of the neurotic ego as it operates in the social setting of 
the present day is valuable. Particularly must we be grateful for 
her emphatic way of bringing 'human relationship' to the fore- 
front, even though in her last work 'self-realization' seems to 
become the primary emphasis, too one-sidedly isolated from its 
matrix in interpersonal relationships. It was very necessary that! 
the genetic approach of Freud, dealing with the past and child- 
hood, as it lay hidden by repression in the deep unconscious, 


should be balanced by this more sociological approach to the 
individual as a person who lives in the 'here and now' of present- 
day human relationships. Yet her work is too much a pendulum 
swing from one extreme to the opposite. In being seized of the 
importance of actual external human relationships in the social 
and cultural setting of the present day, she has lost touch with the 
deep Freudian unconscious which is still there, enormously in- 
fluencing present-day behaviour, and constituting an inner world 
in which the past is perpetuated into the present. Having thrown 
over instinct theory, Horney has no means of giving an account of 
the deep 'structural' unconscious as a region of psychic life out- 
side the socially adapted ego. She has only a 'functional' view of 
the unconscious in terms of the ordinary social self. It consists of 
those of our reactions, to people in the present day, of which we 
are not aware. This is not adequate to the facts, and is not a view 
that can contribute much to sociology or to psychopathology. It 
amounts to little more than the superficial idea of the unconscious 
put forward in the 1920s by the philosophers, Bertrand Russell 
land C. D. Broad, to the effect that the unconscious was merely the 
unrecognized emotions of which we were conscious but did not 
wish to see them for what they really were. That is not at all what 
Freud meant by the unconscious, even though this phenomenon 
is related to it. 

Therapy for Homey is helping the patient to see himself as he 
really is so that he can correct his antisocial feelings and im- 
pulses. But can he, if the deep unconscious is left out of account ? 
There is much to show that this type of therapy develops a distinct 
moralistic tendency which is even more marked in Erich Fromm, 
and increases a patient's guilt about his 'bad' impulses. Analysts 
lay bare unsuspected antisocial drives and it matters little whether 
they are due to Freud's instincts or to Homey's neurotic character- 
trends; the patient feels them as his own bad characteristics, feels 
guilty because of them, and all the while the vital question remains 
unanswered : what is it that has kept these antisocial drives in 
being for years from childhood onwards, why was it not possible 
to grow out of them, and why are they so active to-day, often 
when there is not really enough external provocation to arouse 
them at the time when they are so urgent ? If Homey is unsatisfied 
with Freud's attempt to explain impulses in terms of biological 
instincts, her own theory of ego-character-structure carries us not 
much farther. They arise out of a character-formation the per- 
sistence of which is assumed rather than explained. Since she 
makes no use of the all-important clue of reactions to internalized 
objects, she is thrown back on a too exclusively cultural explana- 


tion, which lacks psychological depth. We need a theory which 
has both a genetic and a contemporary social and cultural | 

Homey does not clear up the problem constituted by the fact 
that while culture-patterns and culture-conflicts determine the 
outbreak and the form of neuroses, they do not account for their 
deep unconscious etiology ; for she fails to give an account of why 
or how her 'basic neurotic conflict' persists structurally in the 
psyche. She is betrayed into a suj>erficial antithesis between a 
situation-neurosis and a character-neurosis, for a character- 
neurosis is a neurosis in terms of an inner situation persisting in 
the unconscious. The distinction should be drawn between an 
internal and an external situation-neurosis, and the interaction 
between the inner and the outer worlds. Horney shows how cul- 
tural tensions in adult life can evoke a neurosis, but she seems to 
assume culture-patterns as primary data studied by the sociologist 
and does not venture on a psychopathology of cultures. After all, 
the culture of a given society is maintained by the individuals who 
compose it. Why? Culture in a society is Uke character in an 
individual ; it is partiy a rational relationship to external objects, 
but partly also a defence against intrapsychic tensions. Thus 
culture and character more often than not very largely coincide. 
The culture patterns and institutions support the individual 
against his internal conflicts. But the whole structure of culture- 
cum-character needs a psychodynamic explanation. Different 
cultures, like different character-types, are, in addition to being 
ways of dealing with external reality, different lines of defence 
against basic internal conflicts which are formed, from the infant's 
point of view, at a pre-cultural phase of its existence. Culture has 
its influence, through the personality of the parents, in creating 
the external stresses with which the infant has to deal, but the 
infant's own reactions are 'raw' and primitive and not yet fash- 
ioned by the direct impact of cultural influences on its own mind. 
That comes later with the development of the 'super-ego', a level 
of 'civilized' development which is, in the first place, a defence 
against pre-existing problems. Neuroses have their roots in the 
pre-moral, pre-cultural depths of the individual psyche; they are 
reactivated in later life by stresses in outer object-relationships of 
the present day. ^ 

Thompson considers that Karen Homey made four important 
contributions. Homey was 'among the first to develop in detail a 
description x)f -soriie_o£ the eff ectSLQllciu^rar pre^ufes^m producing 
neurosis'. (1952, p. 200.) Secondly, she m6diHed~the_repetition- 
compulsion by_-^:9wing that in transference there is no exact 


literal repeating of early attitudes to p arents, bu t rather an end- 
result of a whole series of influences Hrrtnorht trvi^ar n,ry tJT^^^Hom^l 

attitude by subsequenf^xpMieno^'with substitute parent-figures. 
Thirdly, she pointed jou^-the-devetefsffi^st^^ol^p^fGK^ vicious 

circles whereby ego^defences set up against primary anxieties 
created in turn fresh anxieties which necessitated more defences 
and so on, till the personality becomes a complex structure of 
anxieties and defences which, as Wilhelm Reich held, must be 
removed in layers. Homey's fourth contribution was„lQ. recognize 
that these ego-defences further conflict^ampng themselves, driving 
a person into incompatible strivings and creating secondary 
anxieties. Dr. Thompson writes : 

Her approach has much in common with Adler, although her out- 
look is not as limited as Adler's. In place of Freud's sexual etiology 
Adler substituted the will to power as the basic problem in human 
beings, and there is no very definite recognition of it as primarily a 
neurotic force. Homey definitely sees the will to power as a neurotic 
mechanism and only one of several possible neurotic mechanisms. 
Thus in her first book she accords the neurotic need of love a com- 
parable significance. I believe the latter idea was presented for the 
first time by Homey. That the craving for love itself could have 
neurotic aspects seems to have escaped the notice of previous analysts. 
(1952, pp. 197-8.) ^X - 

Thompson's final estimate of Karen Homey's views is as follows : 

Her emphasis is almost entirely on how the current neurotic trends 
work and produce difficulties; and she shows little interest in how 
such trends developed in the first place. {Ibid., p. 201.) 

But it seems even more important that she displays litde interest 
in the problem of what endopsychic factors are responsible for 
keeping these neurotic trends going in the personality through so 
many years of environmental changes. Thompson remarks : 

The great emphasis on the present, in therapy, to the relative ex- 
clusion of the past has its unfortunate aspect too. It really gives a 
one-sided picture, a kind of structure without a foundation (p. 201). 

This is even more true when we remember that the past is, psycho- 
logically, not merely the historical past; it is a psychological 
present, a dynamic, if unconscious, inner world, structurally 
underlying the persistence of Homey's neurotic trends in extemgJ 
object-relationships. It is very valuable to have it shown clearly 
by Karen Homey that the troublesome sex drives and power 
drives met with in disturbed j>eople are themselves neurotic 


phenomena, anxiety-motivated compulsions, and not normal and 
natural manifestations of healthy innate instincts. But these 
'neurotic character trends' still remain inexpUcable solely in terms 
of culture-patterns and external social pressures. A theory of the 
structural unconscious is required to account for their stubborn 
persistence. Homey lost touch with Freud's basic discovery that 
they persist because they are rooted in the individual's continuing 
inner unconscious world in which the traumatic past is per- 

Erich Fromm's work bears mainly on politics, morality and 
religion. Here we may say briefly that he expounds the 'culture- 
pattern and social pressure' theory chiefly as a social psychologist. 
He regards human problems as arising, not out of the need to 
satisfy instincts, which in human beings are not at all specific, but 
out of 'the specific kind of relatedness of the individual towards 
the world and to himself. (P. Mullahy, Oedipus Myth and Com- 
plex, p. 241. Quoted by Dr. C. Thompson.) Our specific ways of 
dealing with our human environment are cultural, not instinctive, 

The most beautiful as well as the most ugly inclinations of man 
are not a part of a fixed and biologically given human nature but 
result from the social process which creates man. {The Fear of Free- 
dom, p. 12.) 

Fromm's main emphasis in tracing the development of man, both 
in European history and as an individual^ is on the escape from 
primary dependence on and^e^urity with parents and the parental 
community. Man achieves individuality at the price of isolation 
and insecurity, and then is driven to set up ego-defences such as 
sado-masochism (dependence in terms of aggression and suffering), 
destructiveness or automaton conformity. (Cf . Jung's 'persona'.) 
The aim of therapy is to release theindividual f ronihis anxieties 
and deiencesso that h^caiirealizehisjDWJi genuine potentialities 
and become his true self. 

This is a valuable line of approach offsetting the biological pes- 
simism of Freud. But as with Horney, so with Fromm, no 
contribution is made to the understanding of the problems of endo- 
psychic structure and the unconscious determinants of ego- 
defences. Still more clearly do we feel this lack when we turn to 
the last important figure in this group. Dr. Harry Stack Sullivan. 

Chapter IX 


F R o M M and Homey went to America from Europe where they 
both began as classic Freudians. Harry Stack SuUivan was an 
American psychiatrist of the school of William Alanson White 
and Adolf Meyer, and it was round him that the Washington 
Group formed. He is the least influenced of the three by psycho- 
analytical orthodoxy in the sense that while Fromm and Homey 
revolted from it, Sullivan never belonged to it. He cannot, how- 
ever, be omitted from this survey because of his importance for 
the 'culture-pattern' school of thought and his links with psycho- 
analysis. He brackets Freud with Meyer and White as making the 
the modem psychiatric outlook possible, but he says : 'My psycho- 
analytic reading began with Hart : The Psychology of Insanity.'' 
He mentions two books of Jung, one of Ferenczi, three of Freud 
{Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex, Traumdeutung and 
Psycho pathology of Everyday Life), along with Freud's discussion 
of the Schreber case, Kempf and Groddeck, and says that, aside 
from these, his 'subsequent reading of the more purely psycho- 
analytic contributions has fallen under the law of diminishing 
returns'. (1955a, p. 178.) 

Sullivan, therefore, cannot properly be called a psycho-analyst. 
At most he has taken suggestions from psycho-analysis and pur- 
sued his own independent psychiatric way. His position is closely 
related to that of Homey and Fromm, whose work represents a 
development of (the orthodox would say a deviation from) psycho- 
analysis. Dr. Clara Thompson, herself a member of the American 
Psycho-analytic Association, brackets Ferenczi, Sullivan and 
Fromm in their influence on her thinking, and includes Sullivan 
in her book Psychoanalysis: Evolution and Development. 

His views bring out clearly both the strength and weakness, the 
value and the limitations, of the 'culture-pattern' type of theory 
which has beconae so influential in America despite the criticism 
it draws from more orthodox analysts such as Franz Alexander. 

Thompson writes : 

Sullivan calls his the theory of interpersonal relations. He holds 
that, given a biological substrate, the human is the product of inter- 
action with other human beings, that it is out of the personal and 
social forces acting upon one from the day of birth that the person- 
ality emerges. The human being is concerned with the pursuit of two 
inclusive goals, the pursuit of satisfaction and the pursuit of security. 
(1952, p. 211.) 

His theory, in brief, is that the social pressures of the 'culture-pat- 
tern', mediated by parents and teachers, mould the character of 
the developing 'self-dynamism'. This 'self-system' or 'self -dynam- 
ism' grows in such a way as to admit what avoids, and to exclude 
what does not avoid, the anxiety resulting from parental disap- 
proval. In Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry he writes : 'Man is 
not a creature of instinct' (1955a, p. 30), and he regrets that 

The mesalliance of neurology and psychiatry has by no means 
been dissolved. The emergency of the World War brought us neuro- 
psychiatrists; and a cultural factor, the aversion to mental disorder 
which is the linear descendant of belief in demoniacal possession 
and witchcraft, still makes it more certainly respectable to be treated 
by a neurologist for a 'nervous breakdown' than to consult a psychia- 
trist about one's difficulties in living. The euphemism covers super- 
stition and protects conceit : both are powerful checks on the progress 
not alone of psychiatry, but of civilization as a whole. (1955a, p. 7.) 

The inborn potentialities which . . . mature over a term of years 
are remarkably labile, subject to relatively durable change by experi- 
ence, and antithetic to the comparatively stable patterns to which 
the biological concept of instinct applies. The idea of 'human in- 
stincts' in anything like the proper rigid meaning of maturing pat- 
terns of behaviour which are not labile is completely preposterous. 
Therefore, all discussions of 'human instincts' are apt. to be very mis- 
leading and very much a block to correct thinking, unless the term 
instinct, modified by the adjective human, is so broadened in its 
meaning that there is no particular sense in using the term at all. 
(1955, p. 21.) 

Biological and neurophysiological terms are utterly inadequate for 
studying everything in life. ... I hope that you will not try to build 
up in your thinking correlations (i.e. 'of "somatic" organization 
with psychiatrically important phenomena') that are either purely 
imaginary or relatively unproven, which may give you the idea that 
you are in a solid, reliable field, in contrast to one which is curiously 


intangible; such a feeling of reliability is, I think, an illusion bom 
out of the failure to recognize that what we know comes to us through 
our experiencing events, and is therefore always separated from 
anything really formed or transcendentally real by the limited 
channels through which we contact what we presume to be the per- 
during, unknown universe. So if a person really thinks that his 
thoughts about nerves and synapses and the rest have a higher order 
of merit than his thoughts about signs and symbols, all I can say is. 
Heaven help him. (1955b, pp. 82-3.) 

In this uncompromising statement he makes it clear that he re- 
gards any attempt to understand human beings by reducing their 
psychology to biology and neurology, physiology and anatomy, as 
foredoomed to failure. Referring to neuroanatomy, he says: 
'What we have to learn [is] in a quite different universe of dis- 
course — namely psychology, so-called psychobiology and psy- 
chiatry.' (1955b, p. 82.) This is a welcome assertion of the right 
of the psychological study of man as a person to be accepted as an 
independent discipline in its own right which may be correlated 
with, but cannot be reduced to, any other supposedly more basic 
study. He defines the psychiatric field as 'coeval with man as a 
social being'. (1955a, P- 5-) 

Psychiatry is the study of processes that involve or go on between 
people. The field of psychiatry is the field of interpersonal relations, 
under any and all circumstances in which these relations exist. . . A 
personality can never be isolated from the complex of interpersonal 
relations in which the person lives and has his being. . . . The unique 
individuality of the other fellow need never concern us as scientists. 
It is a great thing in our wives and our children. They have, how- 
ever, aesthetic and other values that are outside of science; when it 
comes to science, let us confine ourselves to something at which we 
have a chance of success. We can study the phenomena that go on 
between the observer and the observed in the situation created by 
the observer participating with the observed. I hold that this is the 
subject-matter of psychiatry. (1955a, pp. 10-12.) 

He classifies 'interpersonal phenomena' therefore, not in terms of 
'instincts' but in terms of 'sought end states', i.e. 'needs'. These 
fall into two groups, 'satisfactions' and 'security'. The needs for 
satisfactions are the basic biological or appetitive needs, hunger, 
thirst, sex, sleep, etc. The needs for security are what, by contrast, 
we would call personality needs, though Sullivan prefers to speak 
of 'cultural needs'. 


The pursuit of security pertains rather more closely to man's cul- 
tural equipment than to his bodily organization. By 'cultural' I mean 
what the anthropologist means — all that which is man-made, which 
survives as monument to pre-existent man, that is the cultural. And 
as I say, all those movements, actions, speech, thoughts, reveries and 
so on which pertain more to the culture which has been embedded 
in a particular individual than to the organization of his tissues and 
glands, is apt to belong to this classification of the pursuit of security. 
(1955a, p. 13.) 

Sullivan regards these security-needs as summed up in the need for 
'prestige', or, with Lasswell, for 'security, income and deference'. 

All these pertain to the culture, to the social institutions, traditions, 
customs and the like, under which we live, to our social order 
rather than to the peculiar properties of our body or somatic 
organizations. This second class, the pursuit of security, may be 
regarded as education of the impulses or drives which underlie the 
first class. In other words, given our biological equipment — we are 
bound to need food and water and so on — certain conditioning in- 
fluences can be brought to bear on the needs for satisfaction. And 
the cultural conditioning gives rise to the second group, the second 
great class of interpersonal phenomena, the pursuit of security. 
(1955a, pp. 13-14-) 

It follows naturally from this analysis that Sullivan regards the 
need for 'the feeling of ability or power' as the most important 
factor leading to the conditioning process. 'We seem to be bom 
with something of this power motive in us', and it is its frustration, 
as when the baby cries for the moon and cannot get it, that 
dominates early development. 

The full development of personality along the lines of security is 
chiefly founded on the infant's discovery of his powerlessness to 
achieve certain desired end states, with the tools, the instrumentali- 
ties, which are at his disposal. From the disappointments in the very 
early stages of life outside the womb . . . comes the beginning of this 
vast development of actions, thoughts, foresights and so on, which 
are calculated to protect one from a feeling of insecurity and help- 
lessness in the situation which confronts one. (1955a, p. 14.) 

Sullivan's position is set forth by Patrick Mullahy in his article 
'A Theory of Interpersonal Relations and the Evolution of Person- 
ality', included as an expository appendix to Sullivan's own lec- 
tures in Conceptions of Modern Psychiatry. He points out that 
Sullivan distinguished between the power motive and the power 


drive. A power drive is a neurotic over-compensation for a re- 
pressed feeling of helplessness. The power motive is the primary, 
natural and healthy need to experience the feeling of power, 
ability, effectiveness or capacity to do things, to carry out one's 
purposes. The power motive is the expression of our basically 
active nature. Concerning this Mullahy writes : 

The power motive, although given originally in the human 
organism, is not a fixed entity. It is manifested in activity, usually, 
although not always, in an interpersonal situation. . . . The energy of 
the infant, or rather its manifestations in the power motive, become 
quickly modified or transformed. But to modify or to transform is 
not to destroy. Sullivan's theories of interpersonal behaviour are, 
therefore, rooted in biology. . . . The energy of a human being, how- 
ever transformed as to its expression by acculturation, is still, 
obviously, biological. There is continuity between the biological and 
the cultural. A human being is an acculturated biological organism. 
(1955a, pp. 244-5.) 

This recognition by Sullivan of the biological foundation of psychic 
life, even though made more specific by recognition of a group of 
energetic pursuits of bodily 'satisfactions', is not the same thing as 
Freud's theory of instincts. Sullivan expressly repudiates any such 
psychosomatic entities. Mullahy says that 'one must invent a new 
terminology in order to convey the new reference frame of study' 
(1955a, p. 245), in psychiatry, for here we deal not with isolated 
and self-contained biological organisms but 'situations'. 

According to Sullivan, to speak about impulses, drives, striving 
towards goals, is to use a figure of speech necessitated by the structure 
of the language. One never observes such impulses and drives. What 
one does observe is a situation 'integrated' by two or more people, 
and manifesting certain recurring kinds of action and behaviour. 
How is one to explain what occurs ? In common everyday language, 
it said that 'A is striving towards so-and-so from B'. This mode of 
speech seems to imply that there are certain ready-made, isolated 
impulses or needs in A which B can satisfy but which existed com- 
pletely independent of any influence from B. The traditional psy- 
chology postulated and termed these apparently pre-existing and 
independent drives as 'instincts'. . . . The goals of human behaviour 
were thought to be rather rigidly fixed by the nature of such self- 
contained, independent, predetermined, instincts. Whatever recipro- 
cal interplay, interaction, occurred between A and B was thought to 
be more mechanical than transformative. But, according to Sullivan 
. . . two people acting in a certain way together, reciprocally, make 


the situation. Their mode of reciprocal action-interaction, defines 
the situation. That is what an interpersonal situation is, a mode of 
interaction of two or more people. . . . Pre-existing, fixed drives do 
not explain an interpersonal situation because they are not ob- 
served. . . . [Human behaviour] is malleable, fluid, changeable to an 
almost incalculable degree . . . interpersonal behaviour does not 
occur, obviously, in a mechanical, rigidly stereotyped manner. . . . 
It is, then, a person-integrated-in-a-situation-with-another-person-or- 
persons, an interpersonal situation, which one studies. ... It is in- 
accurate, unscientific to speak of a person-in-isolation-manifesting- 
this-or-that-tendency-or-drive. (1955a, pp. 245-7.) 

This is a highly important formulation of a truth Freud apparently 
never saw, namely that the actual emotions and 'impulses' we deal 
with in psychology are not innate and pre-existing biological drives 
but reactions of individuals to one another in the interpersonal 
situation that comes about between them. 'Impulses' are functions 
of object-relationship situations, I accept Sullivan's view unre- 
servedly on this point. In a further comment Mullahy arrives 
almost at the point of presenting Sullivan's views in terms of what 
we shall presently study as Melanie Klein's internal objects, and of 
Fairbaim's theory of dynamic structure, but he misses the implica- 
tions of his own statement. 

What one observes is a situation, integrated by two or more 
people. . . . Because all but one of the people may be 'illusory' per- 
sonifications, or inhabitants of dreamland or the imagination, the 
problem is more complicated. . . . To have an impulse or drive is to 
have or manifest a tendency to action in some kind of interpersonal 
situation. Impulses and drives cohere in 'dynamisms', relatively 
enduring configurations of energy, which manifest themselves in 
numerous ways in human situations. [Present writer's italics.] The 
traits which characterize interpersonal situations in which one is 
integrated describe what one is. . . . Generally speaking, personality 
is ... a function of the kinds of interpersonal situations a person 
integrates with others, whether real persons or fantastic personifica- 
tions. (1955a, 247-8.) 

We are almost on the verge of object-relations theory here. If 
Sullivan's 'fantastic personifications' were recognized more funda- 
mentally as Melanie Klein's 'internal psychic objects' ; and if the 
theory of impulses as cohering in 'dynamisms' or 'relatively endur- 
ing configurations of energy' were seen to imply Fairbaim's theory 
of impulses as reactions of dynamic ego-structures to objects, in- 
ternal as well as external ; then Sullivan would have transcended 


the purely 'culture-pattern' type of theory. He does not, however, 
take that step, but proceeds to outline only the process of accultura- 
tion of the conscious and pre-conscious ego in relationships with 
external objects. 

The description of all motivations as reducible to the pursuit of 
biological satisfactions and cultural security is hardly satisfactory. 
The biological needs or organic appetites are concerned primarily 
with the preservation of mere bodily existence, and on that level 
are themselves a pursuit of security. They acquire the significance 
of personal satisfactions in very different ways and degrees for 
different individuals and that is very highly culturally determined. 
The term 'satisfaction' is also quite as applicable to purely cul- 
turally created aims. On the other hand, to limit the significance 
of culturally conditioned strivings to the pursuit of security is too 
negative. This view is determined by Sullivan's conception of the 
ego as purely and solely an anxiety-product. But it leaves out of 
account the fundamental fact that the chief aim of the human 
being is to achieve good-object relationships, not for utilitarian, 
but for intrinsic reasons, not for protection and security merely 
but for the very positive fulfilment of the nature of personality in 
itself. As Professor Macmurray puts it, we can only be persons at 
all in a personal relationship. It is secondary that good relation- 
ships are the best of all defences against anxiety. Here, again, 
Sullivan's views fall short of a true 'object-relations' theory. To 
make physical needs positive and personality needs merely negative 
is far from satisfactory. 

However, beginning with the infant's cry, he regards the devel- 
opment of language-behaviour as largely a tool for the achieve- 
ment of security. As the infant becomes a child it is trained in 
'select excerpts from the cultural heritage, from that surviving of 
past people, incorporated in the personality of the parents'. 
(1955a, p. 18.) This includes 'toilet habits, eating habits and the 
learning of the language as a tool for communication'. (1955a, 

p. 18.) 

Sullivan's theory of the development of what Freud calls the ego 
and what he calls the 'self-system' or ' self -dynamism' is a process 
of acculturation involving restraints, and 

from these restraints there comes the evolution of the self-system — 
an extremely important part of the personality — with a brand-new 
tool . . . anxiety. With the appearance of the self-system or the self- 
dynamism, the child picks up a new piece of equipment which we 
technically call anxiety. Of the very unpleasant experiences which 
the infant can have we may say that there are generically two, pain 


and fear. Now comes the third. It is necessary in the modification of 
activity in the interest of power in interpersonal relations . . . that 
one focus one's interest into certain fields that work. It is in learning 
this process that the self is evolved and the instrumentality of 
anxiety comes into being. . . . Disapproval . . . becomes more and 
more the instrument of the signficant adult in educating the infant 
in the folkways, the tradition, the culture in which he is expected to 
live. (1955a, pp. 19-20.) 

Thus parental disapproval, prohibitions and the privations suffered 
in the course of education gives his experiences 

a peculiar colouring of discomfort, neither pain nor fear but dis- 
comfort of another kind. Along with these experiences there go in all 
well-regulated homes and schools a group of rewards and appro- 
bations for successes. These, needless to say, are not accompanied by 
this particular type of discomfort, and when that discomfort is 
present and something is done which leads to approbation, then this 
peculiar discomfort is assuaged and disappears. The peculiar dis- 
comfort is the basis of what we ultimately refer to as anxiety. ( 1 955a, 
p. 20.) 

Here Sullivan either confuses together, or fails to distinguish be- 
tween, anxiety and guilt. What he is evolving is a theory of the 
social self, the conscious and externally operative ego as built up 
by the instrumentality of an anxious need for approval and ac- 
ceptance. At this civilized, moral level of organization, anxiety 
takes the more specific and developed form of guilt. Thereafter 
both anxiety and guilt continue to operate as parallel but dis- 
tinguished reactions, while guilt acquires an importance of its own 
and gives rise to a new set of problems. Sullivan does not make this 
clear. In his book The Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry (1955b), 
anxiety is dealt with exhaustively, but there are only three inci- 
dental and passing references to guilt as 'a complex anxiety deriva- 
tive' (p. 344). One would never suspect from this book the tre- 
mendous and devastating part played by repressed guilt in seriously 
depressed conditions. The fact that Sullivan's interest was far more 
in schizoid and schizophrenic than in depressive phenomena 
perhaps accounts for his confusing and fusing anxiety and guilt 
so easily. The fact that it is specifically guilt that Sullivan has in 
mind is clear. He says : 

The self-dynamism is built up out of this experience of appro- 
bation and disapproval, of reward and punishment. The peculiarity 
of the self-dynamism is that as it grows it functions, in accordance 
with its state of development, right from the start. As it develops it 



becomes more and more related to a microscope in its function. Since 
the approbation of the important person is very valuable, since dis- 
approbation denies satisfaction and gives anxiety, the self becomes 
extremely important. It permits a minute focus on those perform- 
ances of the child which are the cause of approbation or disappro- 
bation, but, very much like a microscope, it interferes with noticing 
the rest of the world. ... It has a tendency to focus attention on per- 
formances with the significant other person which get approbation 
or disfavour. And that peculiarity, closely connected with anxiety, 
persists thenceforth throughout life. It comes about that the self, that 
to which we refer when we say T, is the only thing which has alert- 
ness, which notices what goes on, and, needless to say, notices what 
goes on in its own field. The rest of the personality gets along outside 
of awareness. Its impulses^ its performances are not noted. Not only 
does the self become the custodian of awareness, but when anything 
spectacular happens that is not welcome to the self, not sympathetic 
to the self-dynamism, anxiety appears, almost as if anxiety finally 
became the instrument by which the self maintained its isolation 
within the personality. . . . Not only does anxiety function to dis- 
cipline attention, but it gradually restricts personal awareness. The 
facilitations and deprivations by the parents and significant others 
are the source of the material which is built into the self-dynamism. 
[Present writer's italics.] Out of all that happens to the infant and 
child, only this 'marked' experience is incorporated into the self, 
because through the control of personal awareness the self itself from 
the beginning facilitates and restricts its further growth. In other 
words, it is self-perpetuating ... it tends very strongly to maintain 
the direction and characteristics which it was given in infancy and 
childhood. For the expression of all things in the personality other 
than those which were approved and disapproved by the parent and 
other significant persons, the self refuses awareness . . . those im- 
pulses, desires and needs come to exist disassociated from the self, 
or dissociated. When they are expressed, their expression is not 
noticed by the person. Our awareness of our performances, and our 
awareness of the performances of others, are permanently restricted 
to a part of all that goes on and the structure and character of that 
part is determined by our early training; its limitation is maintained 
year after year by our experiencing anxiety whenever we tend to 
overstep the margin. . . . The self may be said to be made up of 
reflected appraisals. [Present writer's italics.] (1955b, pp. 20-22.) 

This long quotation is of extreme importance for the critical assess- 
ment of the whole 'culture-pattern' type of theory. Karen Homey 
criticized the Freudian ego as a neurotic phenomenon, but Sulli- 


van's 'self-system' or 'self-dynamism', being totally motivated in its 
development by anxiety, is also a neurotic phenomenon. This 
cannot be the whole truth about the nature and development of 
the self, the e^o or T with which we are familiar. That does not 
prevent there being a very large amount of truth in what Sullivan 
says. Even a cursory survey of human beings is enough to reveal 
the chronic state of limitation, inhibition and under-development 
of potentialities that is prevalent. 

Thompson points out that while for Fromm the true self consists 
of all a man's potentialities, Sullivan's 'self-system' or 'self-dynam- 
ism' (i.e. the social self) consists only of those potentiaUties which 
were acceptable to the cultural milieu of his childhood. She writes : 

The self is eventually formed out of the mass of potentialities in 
the effort to meet with approval and avoid disapproval. The avoid- 
ance of anxiety which is at first evoked by disapproval is the most 
potent force in its formation. Since anxiety is directly the result of 
the loss of the sense of well-being as determined by the significant 
people, it is apparent that the trends of the culture determine to a 
great extent whether the self includes many of the positive potent- 
ialities of a person, or he becomes an 'inferior caricature of what he 
might have been' (Sullivan). . . . Sullivan's self -system is a part of the 
personality which can be observed. One must conclude that Sullivan 
thinks that transcending the culture is, at the very least, difficult. 
Man is moulded by his culture, and all attempts to break with it 
produce anxiety. What can be accomplished are modifications 
within the general framework brought about by the impact of 
different personalties. (1952, pp. 214-15.) 

Questions of far-reaching importance are raised here. It is ap- 
parent that this type of research into the nature of the socially 
adapted self, the Freudian 'reaUty-ego', is of great value, and we 
have here a more thorough-going attack on the problem than 
biologically orientated classic Freudianism produced. Freud's pic- 
ture of the ego struggling to reconcile the claims of the id and the 
external world points in this direction ; and Jung's doctrine of the 
Persona was a first rough approximation to a description of the 
result. Sullivan's theory of the 'self -system', Homey's 'idealized 
image of the self' and Fromm's theory of 'automaton conformity' 
all in different ways constitute a detailed study of the results of 
social and cultural pressure on ego-development. 

Having, however, conceded this much, we must look to the 
weakness and limitations of this theory, in the form in which 
Sullivan presents it, as a comprehensive theory of personality de- 


velopment. In the first place the persistence of the rigidities of the 
sdf-dynamism is not adequately explained by the view that it is 
self-perj>etuating. The self -dynamism is primarily a reaction to the 
'culture-pattern' of the parents. It would be natural to suppose 
that, since it is essentially an adaptation to the immediate human 
environment through an anxious desire to please, it would change 
readily in response to a changing environment. In fact, within 
restricted limits it does. What is not approved is never so com- 
pletely excluded from 'awareness' as Sullivan held. The only hope 
of a development beyond the ncirrow parental pattern Ues in the 
child being able later on to react to the influence of different types 
of people. But the crucial fact is that the self -system actually proves 
highly resistant to change in face of a changing environment as the 
child goes away from parents and out into the wider world beyond 
the home. When a dramatic revolt from the parental pattern is 
suddenly staged on the threshold of adult life, that pattern can 
always be rediscovered still persisting under repression in the 
unconscious. In fact, what gives such persistence to the self -system 
(or the defensive character-structure in Wilhelm Reich's sense) is 
the fact that the original parental environment, as we shall see 
presently, still persists under repression as a hidden inner world. 
The internal causes of the persistence and rigidity of the self- 
system are unconscious, and as such are beyond reach of being 
influenced by the changing environment. The most unconscious 
and rigid portion of Sullivan's 'self -system' must really correspond 
to the primitive Freudian super-ego. However much the growing 
child encounters a changing world without, it remains tied to an 
unconscious and unchanging environment within itself. It is this 
fact that enforces the persistence of the original developmental 
pattern of the ego. We need what Sullivan quite fails to supply, a 
theory of the unconscious in terms of internalized object-relation- 
ships. Without that, this whole 'culture-pattern' theory is 'a struc- 
ture without a foundation', as Thompson says of Homey 's teach- 

Such 'theory of the unconscious' as Sullivan has, fails to account 
for many facts met with in clinical practice. The unconscious for 
him is 'the rest of the j>ersonality (which) gets along outside of 
awareness. Its impulses, its performances, are not noted.' The un- 
conscious is 'the ignored', and is built up by 'selective inattention' 
and by 'dissociation'. Such ideas are powerless to explain the 
aggressively rejective attitude of the main self towards the highly 
j>ersonal, dynamic, frightening figures which appear in dreams 
as devils, ghosts, sinister men, burglars, wild animals and so on, 



and which cause dreamers to start up out of nightmares with 
pounding heart and bathed in sweat. The unconscious is not simply 
the 'selectively inattended', it is the 'forcibly repressed'. Anxiety 
at disapproval is a later factor in ego-development. It is preceded 
by anxiety at simple rejection, and the unconscious is built up in 
the first place by the infant's struggle in turn to reject his bad 

Sullivan does in fact recognize an unconscious part of the per- 
sonality in a more radical sense but he does very little about it. 
After explaining the way in which the infant very early forms two 
distinct 'personifications' of the mother — the good tender mother 
and the bad anxiety-producing mother — he proceeds to describe 
a parallel development in the formation of two distinct 'personi- 
fications' of the self — 'good-me' and 'bad-me'. To these he adds 
a third 'personification' of the self which he calls 'not-me'. Here 
he says : 

We are in a different field — one which we know about only 
through certain very special circumstances, and these special circum- 
stances are not outside the experience of any of us. The personifica- 
tion of not-me is most conspicuously encountered by most of us in an 
occasional dream while we are asleep; but it is very emphatically 
encountered by people who are having a severe schizophrenic episode, 
in aspects that are to them most spectacularly real. As a matter of 
fact, it is always manifest — not every minute, but every day, in every 
life — in certain peculiar absences of phenomena where there should 
be phenomena; and in a good many people ... it is very striking in 
its indirect manifestations (dissociated behaviour), in which people 
do and say things of which they do not and could not have know- 
ledge, things which may be quite meaningful to other people but are 
unknown to them. ... It is from the evidence of these special circum- 
stances — including both those encountered in everybody and those 
encountered in grave disturbances of personality . . . — that I choose 
to set up this third beginning personification ... of not-me. (1955b, 
pp. 162-3.) 

One would conclude from this that the discovery of ways of in- 
vestigating this ever-present and so influential area of personality, 
this not-me would be a psychiatric priority. That was certainly 
Freud's view. However, Sullivan leaves it there as something we 
cannot know anything about. He writes : 

The not-me component is, in all essential respects, practically 
beyond discussion in communicative terms. Not-me is part of the 
very 'private mode' of living. But ... it manifests itself at various 


times in the life of everyone after childhood ... by the eruption 
of certain exceedingly unpleasant emotions in what are called night- 
mares. (1955b, p. 164.) 

In a stimulating chapter on 'Sleep, Dreams and Myths' in The 
Interpersonal Theory of Psychiatry (1925b, ch. 20) he speaks of 
'powerful motivational systems' being 'dissociated' so that 'it is im- 
possible to abandon enough of the self -system function so that one 
can have deep and restful sleep' (p. 331). This again seems to 
challenge resolute investigation, but Sullivan concludes : 

there is an impassable barrier between covert operations when one is 
asleep and covert operations and reports of them when one is awake. 
If the barrier is passable at all, it is only by the use of such techniques 
as hynosis, which are so complex as to produce data no more 
reliable than the recalled dream, so that in essence the barrier is 
impassable. (1955a, p. 331.) 

Sullivan thus abandons the attempt which Freudian psycho- 
analysis perseveres in, to arrive at a depth-psychology, an elucida- 
tion of the mystery of this so influential if unconscious not-me 
component of personality. This is the counterpart of the concen- 
tration of all the 'culture-pattern' theorists on the investigation of 
the socially adapting ego. 

We mxust now examine Sullivan's theory of anxiety. It rests on 
the fact that the infant and child who is accepted and approved, 
experiences a sense of well-being which Sullivan speaks of as 
euphoria, and that when he is disapproved he loses this sense of 
well-being and experiences a sense of discomfort qualitatively 
different from pain and fear which Sullivan calls anxiety. The 
entire self -system is built up on the principle of avoiding this ex- 
perience of anxiety. 

Two points need to be made about this. As already noted, it is 
guilt as much as simple anxiety about which Sullivan is speaking, 
and it is not satisfactory simply to subsume guilt under anxiety. 
There is a more primitive form of anxiety than this 'anxiety of 
disapproval'. Sullivan implies that, when he describes anxiety as 
originating in the first place as a not-understood state of disturb- 
ance empathized from the anxious mother. Anxiety at disapproval 
is a distinctly later development. Primitive anxiety lies closer to 
fear in the simple sense, but it persists as a pennanent under- 
current in the personality, as a reaction to the highly disturbing 
figures which persecute repressed portions of the ego in the uncon- 
scious. This more hidden anxiety is something Sullivan does not 
take into account. It constitutes the deep anxiety of early infantile 


origin against which the conscious ego builds its defences. All the 
'culture-pattern theorists' assume that the anxiety that dominates 
the disturbed person is that which arises out of conflict with the 
outer cultural environment. The truth is that conflict with the 
outer world calls forth anxiety of disruptive intensity only because 
it involves the sense of loss of external support, and leaves the 
individual alone and at the mercy of his internal dangers. It is 
when external anxieties arouse internal ones that breakdown 
occurs. If the inner world at deep levels is relatively anxiety-free, 
a great deal of conflict with, and isolation from, the outer world 
can be bom. 

One further point calls for examination, SulUvan's theory of 
'parataxic distortion'. He here approaches but fails to recognize the 
all-important fact of 'internal psychic objects' without which no 
proper account of the dynamic unconscious can be given. We may 
state Sullivan's views in Thompson's summary of them. She 
writes : 

Interpersonal relations as understood by Sullivan refer to more 
than what actually goes on between two or more factual people. 
There may be 'phantastic personifications' such as for instance the 
idealization of a love-object, or one may relate to a non-existent 
product of the imagination, e.g. 'the perfect mate'. Also one may 
endow people falsely with characteristics taken from significant 
people in one's past. An interpersonal relationship can be said to 
exist between a person and any one of these more or less phantastic 
people, as well as between a person or group evaluated without dis- 
tortion. This brings us to Sullivan's concept of parataxic distortion, 
which is not identical with Freud's transference, although it includes 
the latter. Parataxic distortion occurs whenever in an interpersonal 
situation at least one participant is reacting to a personification 
existing only or chiefly in his phantasy. . . . Parataxic distortion, 
therefore, would be any attitude towards another person based on 
phantasy or identification of him with other figures. (1952, pp. 

This passage refers to the distortion of perception of the outer 
world by unconscious projection into it of the inner world. Such 
externalizing of the unconscious inner world may be extensive or 
confined for the moment to a single figure. But it is inadequate to 
speak of these inner figures simply as 'phantasies' or as 'non- 
existent products of the imagination'. It is only from an outer and 
rationalistic point of view that they can be so described. Psycho- 
logically considered they have psychic-reality , they have actual 
and continuing existence as persisting structural aspects of the 


total psyche, most of all when they are bad, sinister figures. They 
are the internal psychic objects which have become so important 
in British psycho-analytical developments, but which American 
analysts of both the orthodox and the cultural schools have so far 
shown little evidence of understanding. 

The whole school of 'culture-pattern' theorists are in the pre- 
dicament of having discarded the orthodox instinct theory (which 
at any rate did make it possible to describe the deep dynamic un- 
conscious in some approach to structural terms) while they have 
not yet possessed themselves of its true alternative, internal-objects 
theory. Thus they are left with no concepts capable of accounting 
for the unconscious in that deep and dynamic sense which is de- 
manded by so many clinical facts. Their study of the moulding 
pressure of the cultural milieu on the conscious ego is extremely 
valuable, and an important corrective of biological theory. But as 
it stands, their theory is psychologically superficial. They have but 
supplied the antithesis to Freud's thesis, and for a synthesis we 
must look to the 'object-relations' theory now developing in British 
circles out of Freud's own work. Of Sullivan we may say that he 
goes no farther than the study of the Freudian ego, in its relation 
to the super-ego, and has no real theory of the unconscious. 

One important general question is raised by SulUvan's theory. 
Having abandoned Freud's attempt to make psychology a science 
by basing it firmly on biology and neurophysiology, he seeks to 
make it a science by another method. His theory is, strictly speak- 
ing, a 'process theory'. 'Psychiatry is the study of processes that 
involve or go on between people.' In spite of all the differences 
due to his sociological orientation, in this fundamental respect his 
theory is of the same type as Freud's metapsychology. In sub- 
stituting the term 'dynamisms' for the Freudian 'mechanisms', 
and in using such a term as 'self -system' in some way as parallel 
to Freud's 'psychic apparatus', Sullivan is not really getting any 
closer to a psychology of man as a person. He is only substituting 
one type of impersonal terminology for another. He is still con- 
structing a scientific process theory and dealing not really with 
'persons-in-relationship' but rather 'groupings-of-interpersonal- 
processes-in-a-cultural-field' . 

The 'person' somehow eludes us in Sullivan's writings. He 

A personality can never be isolated from the complex of inter- 
personal relations in which the person lives and has his being. . . . 
The unique individuality of the other fellow need never concern us 
as scientists. (1955a, p. 11.) 


Nevertheless the person does exist as a basically unique individual 
vuithin the field of interpersonal relations, and it is with this person 
that we are concerned in psychotherapy. Since the practical pur- 
pose of psychodynamic theory is to provide a basic understanding 
usable as a guide in psychotherapy, the theory must somehow 
take account of the person as something more than a collection or 
focus of processes in the field of interpersonal relations ; otherwise 
the very term ''mttrpersonaV relations loses its significance. From 
this point of view Sullivan cannot be regarded as having moved 
even as far as half-way beyond Freud towards a theory of object- 
relations that could do justice to personahty. 

British developments are more successful in this respect in no 
small degree because they retain a fundamental Freudian con- 
cept of which Sullivan makes no use. He altogether lacks the con- 
cept of a dynamic libido, a term in which Freud conceptualized 
the basically object-seeking nature of the human being. Sullivan 
traces out the infant's development of personifications of the good 
mother and the bad mother, and of the good-me, the bad-me and 
the not-me : he explores thoroughly the detailed processes of 
learning by anxiety, and of the acculturation and socialization of 
the conscious ego (the self-dynamism). But he has nothing to say 
about the basic indissoluble Hbidinal attachment of the infant- 
person to his personal love-objects which is the foundation of all 
human psychology, persisting in the unconscious depths of the 
personality. The 'self' that Sullivan deals with is a 'pattern of 
energy transformations', a mosaic of safe patterns, and we feel the 
lack of a dynamic 'whole self which cannot be imprisoned in that 
'pattern' or 'envelope' which presents only 'insignificant differ- 
ences' from the cultural norm. 

A note may be added about the goal of psychotherapy. The 
books of Fromm and Homey, written for the general public, are 
widely read in America and this country, and they tend to convey 
a somewhat moralistic idea of psychotherapy as simply the cor- 
rection of bad character traits so as to make possible true self- 

H. V. Dicks, in a paper 'In Search of our Proper Ethic' (1950, 
pp. 4-5), regards the goal of therapy set up by the psychotheraj>ist 
as of great moment to the sociologist. He points out that this may 
be viewed as either Adjustment, Self-realization or Integration. 
Homey's early statement that 'neuroses are deviations from the 
normal pattern of behaviour' implies an adjustment goal. Dicks 
writes : 'I find the concept of adjustment highly suspect. . . . Ad- 
justment impHes that someone who has revolted and will not play 
the game according to society's rules must be brought round to 



accept his social obligations. Psychiatrists are often, not without 
reason, accused of acting on behalf of current social norms. ... I 
cannot regard normality, i.e. the average fitting into the current 
culture patterns as synonymous with mental health. . . . Any 
therapy, individual or social, based on the conscious or uncon- 
scious strategy of moulding a child, a patient or a group, like a lead 
pipe until it fits, seems to be fraught with dangers. . . . The valid 
component in the concept of adjustment is the hope that where a 
person or a group had falsely projected hostile or dystonic feelings 
to the larger environment which demanded conformity, therapy 
directed to the removal of the subjective distortions would enable 
the patient to become reconciled to the reality situation. . . . 
Reconciliation is to reality and is not the equivalent of mere 
acquiescence of the patient in a social or personal status quo.' 

As to the goal of self-realization, which Homey emphasized 
later, Fromm stressed, and Jung made a key concept, Dicks 
writes : 

Another commonly held therapeutic goal is that of ^finding the 
self, individuation and the like — terms which seem to stress some- 
what the opposite of adjustment. Self-realization seems to me an 
introverted value with considerable narcissistic undertones. ... At its 
highest the concept denotes a working through culturally imposed 
obstacles which had falsified the person, towards an autonomy 
strongly diff'erentiated from group or collective norm pressures. ... I 
do not deny its value, for if it were successful it could profoundly 
change people's relations to the object-world. Only it seems too 
narrow and world-denying to stand as a goal for divers personalities. 

Dicks advocates the goal of integration as capable of including the 
antagonistic ideas of adjustment and self-realization, leading to 
a new concept of 'mental health' as a new value. 

A Note on Carl Jung 

Jung need not detain us long at this point, for though he, too, 
strongly emphasizes the present, and still more the future, as im- 
portant for understanding human problems, he also discards the 
depth-psychology of Freud with its all-important revelation of the 
way the child lives on in the unconscious. He substitutes a depth- 
psychology of his own, a highly sp>eculative theory of an hereditary 
racial unconscious which dominates behaviour through the activa- 
tion of 'archetypes' which are, it seems, deposits of racial memory. 
In virtue of them we deal with present-day problems and situa- 
tions, not so much in the light of the way we dealt with our en- 
vironment when we were infants, but in the light of the way our 


ancestors dealt with environments of untold thousands of years 
ago. Whatever may be the fate of this theory, it seems scientifically 
preferable to deal with more accessible material from the research 
point of view, and exhaust that first. 

Jung has not made a marked contribution to sociology, perhaps 
because the goal of his theory is the narcissistic goal of individua- 
tion. The writer can only repeat here what he wrote elsewhere in 


Jung has put his finger on a really determining motive in the 
psychic life of a human being. It is the inescapable and ineradicable 
urge to become, and to fulfil oneself as, a person. Unfortunately, 
however, Jung's treatment of this is too subjective : he does not show 
how integration is necessarily bound up with good object-relation- 

Jung's theory of integration or individuation is of profound signi- 
ficance for the psychology of religion, but it does raise two difficulties. 
Jung either does not see, or does not deal with, the question of per- 
sonal relationship as the medium in which ultimately integration is 
achieved. The importance of this is apparent in Macmurray's treat- 
ment of 'mutuality as of the essence of personality. One gets the im- 
pression that Jung regards integration as an esoteric and wholly 
internal process, in achieving which we end up inside our own 
psyche. A condition of psychic self-sufficiency would surely be a state 
of spiritual isolation which contradicts the very nature of the personal 
life. He also seems to treat integration as a process largely confined 
to the second half of life, whereas we see integration as the dominat- 
ing need from the very earliest mpment that conflict arises, and as 
the inner meaning of psychological growth through every phase of 
our life-course. Integration within ourselves and personal relationship 
with other people proceed pari passu. (1949, pp. 208-9.) 

On two points, however, Jung was a forerunner of the culture- 
pattern theorists whose views we have just examined. He early 
recognized that psycho-analytical therapy was an interpersonal 
situation which involved the personality and reactions of the 
analyst as well as the patient : and in a more subtle and personal 
sense than is allowed for by the Freudian theory of transference 
and counter-transference. 

Further, his theory of the Persona is a description of a most im- 
portant way in which an individual is moulded, so far as his visible 
social self is concerned, by the pattern of his cultural miheu. It is a 
social mask, typical for the individual's class or profession which 
protects and hides his inner self. It is therefore a socially deter- 
mined ego-defence. 

III. Emerging Synthesis 


Chapter X 


(The Development of Melanie Klein's Conceptions) 

This study of the development of psycho-analytical theory has 
so far traced the first two phases of a dialectical pattern. The 
original thesis of psychobiological theory, postulated by Freud, 
provoked an antithesis of psychosociological theory which really 
began with Adler in the first decade of the twentieth century, and 
developed from around 1930 in America into an elaborate chal- 
lenge to Freudian orthodoxy. Both thesis and antithesis flourish 
together side by side to-day, but they call for a further develop- 
ment towards a true synthesis. In this, both emphases must be 
reconciled in one more specifically psychological theory. What this 
might mean can be seen from Fairbaim's view that the proper 
object of psychological investigation is the person, not the organ- 
ism, especially if we add, 'nor the cultural community'. Psycho- 
dynamic theory calls to be developed in such a way as distinguishes 
it from both biology on the one hand, and from sociology and 
social psychology on the other. It is the present writer's view that 
such a synthesis has already begun to emerge in British psycho- 
analysis, in the work of Melanie Klein and W. R. D. Fairbaim. 

The danger that the two earlier points of view could be set in 
unfruitful opposition was recognized by Otto Fenichel. He writes: 

There is no 'psychology of man' in a general sense, in a vacuum, 
as it were, but only a psychology of man in a certain concrete society. 
... In the endeavour to investigate the relationship between biological 


needs and external influences, one or the other of these two forces 
may be over-estimated. The history of psycho-analysis has seen both 
types of deviation. Certain authors in their biologistic thinking have 
entirely overlooked the role of outwardly determined frustrations 
in the genesis of neuroses and character traits, and are of the opinion 
that neuroses and character traits might be rooted in conflicts be- 
tween contradictory biological needs in an entirely endogenous 
manner. Such a point of view is dangerous even in therapeutic 
analysis; but it becomes entirely fatal if it is assumed in applications 
of psycho-analysis to sociological questions. Attempts of this kind 
have sought to understand social institutions as the outcome of con- 
flicts between contradictory instinctual impulses within the same 
individuals, instead of seeking to understand the instinctual structure 
of empirical human beings through the social institutions in which 
they grew up. But there are also certain authors at the other extreme 
who reproach psycho-analysis with being too biologically oriented, 
and who are of the opinion that the high valuation of the instinctual 
impulses means that cultural influences are denied or neglected. They 
are even of the erroneous opinion that the demonstration of their 
importance contradicts any instinct theory. Freud's own writings 
contain, essentially, descriptions of how instinctual attitudes, objects, 
and aims are changed under the influence of experiences. (1945, 
p. 6.) 

Fenichel's view, however, like Freud's, of the kind and extent of 
social influence on the individual does not go deep enough. He 

certainly not only frustrations and reactions to frustrations are socially 
determined; what a human being desires is also determined by his 
cultural environment. However, the culturally determined desires 
are merely variations of a few biological basic needs. (Ibid., p. 6.) 

The character of men is socially determined. The environment 
enforces specific frustrations, blocks certain modes of reaction to these 
frustrations, and facilitates others; it suggests certain ways of dealing 
with the conflicts between instinctual demands and fears of further 
frustrations; it even creates desires by setting up and forming specific 
ideals. Different societies, stressing different values and applying 
different educational measures, create different anomalies. {Ibid., 
p. 464.) 

The environment is here, however, still seen only as something 
external which facilitates, obstructs, deflects and distorts instinc- 
tive drives. There is no recognition of the all-important fact of the 


psychic internalization of the environment as an inner world in 
Klein's and Fairbaim's sense. 

A psychodynamic theory is now emerging which takes into 
account the fact that man lives in two worlds at the same time, 
inner and outer, psychic and material, and has relationships with 
two kinds of objects, internal and external. Here 'depth psycho- 
logy' and the sociological orientation merge in a synthesis. It is a 
formidable task to discuss 'internal objects' psychology with any 
but specialists in psycho-analysis. Classic Freudianism appeared 
to many people to give an alarmingly complex view of the nature 
and working of the human mind. Yet all forms of pure instinct 
theory give a picture of mental development in infancy and child- 
hood which is simple by contrast with the complexities revealed by 
investigation of 'internal objects' and the unconscious as an inner 
world. Melanie Klein speaks of 'the bewildering complexity of the 
processes which operate, to a large extent simultaneously, in the 
early stages of development'. (1952, p. 198.) 

There is, however, no particular reason why we should exf>ect 
to find mental phenomena simple and easy to understand. Had 
they been so, they would surely have been elucidated, and human 
nature understood, long ago. The scientific investigation of 
'matter' began with the common sense prejudice in favour of a 
simple, solid substance, and has arrived at the complexities of 
atomic physics which, though completely beyond the compre- 
hension of all but the expert few, plainly represent realities or they 
would not confer on man the ability to harness atomic energy. 

It seems that the scientific investigation of 'mind' is following a 
similar course. Starting with such straightforward, common-sense 
assumptions as that of the simple unity of the soul and its warfare 
with bodily appetite, thus resolving all problems into one of moral 
resjXDnsibility, psychodynamic theory has arrived at an almost 
frighteningly complex picture of the developmental history of the 
human mind in its early formative years. Any apj>earance the 
adult mind may have of being relatively simple and straight- 
forward in character and functioning, turns out, under the psycho- 
analytical microscope, to be a complete illusion. Repression, and 
unconsciousness of aU of the structure and a great part of the 
functioning of the human mind, create and maintain the illusion 
of simplicity. 

Mankind in general can afford to consign atomic physics to the 
physicist and leave the experts to apply atomic power to our prac- 
tical needs. We cannot in the same way leave psychodynamics so 
entirely to the expert, since in our daily Hfe we must deal with 
other human beings, and we will do so more successfully if we have 


some accurate and reliable insight into human nature. Not that 
everyone must become a psycho-analyst, but all who are prac- 
tically concerned with the fact that living is a matter of human 
relationships need to grasp the significance of at any rate the 
essential discoveries contained in the new developments of psycho- 
analysis to which we now turn. 

I . The Early Development of Mrs. Klein's Conceptions 
Since psycho-analysis traces the origin of the fundamental per- 
sonality problems back to infancy, it is most appropriate that its 
further development should be brought about by discoveries made 
in the analysis of children. Freud opened up the prospect of the 
analysis of children as early as 1909 in his Analysis of a Phobia 
in a Five-year-old Boy. Adler early developed psychotherapeutic 
treatment of children on an extensive scale. Not till shortly before 
1920, however, was the treatment of children imdertaken system- 
atically by psycho-analysts, first by Hug-Hellmuth, and then by 
Anna Freud and Mrs. Melanie Klein. Hug-Hellmuth and Anna 
Freud both held that the classic psycho-analytical technique 
needed to be modified to be more supportive and educational in 
order to be applied to children. Mrs. Klein, by using the child's 
play in all its forms, games of impersonation, drawing, cutting out, 
using water, etc., as a substitute for the purely verbal free associa- 
tion of the adult patient, gained direct access to the unconscious 
of the child as young as sf years. Material from the phantasy life 
of the pre-verbal period was made accessible and in due course the 
child would become able to verbalize its conflicts within the limits 
of its vocabulary, which Mrs. Klein held to be necessary for radical 
analysis. This was a purely psycho-analytical technique. 

In the Preface to the First Edition of The Psycho- Analysis of 
Children (1932, 3rd Ed., p. 7, 1948) Mrs. Klein described her 
results as 'a contribution to the general psycho-analytic theory of 
the earliest stages of the development of the individual'. Ferenczi 
suggested to her that she had an aptitude for child-analysis, and 
she developed her play technique in 1922-3. Her first three pub- 
lished papers belong to this period : *The Development of a 
Child' ; *The Role of the School in the Libidinal Development of 
the Child' ; and 'Infant Analysis'. These papers do not show any 
specific formulation of her characteristic later concepts but they 
certainly foreshadow them. They are implicit in the type of 
material she discovered. 

In 1924-5 Mrs. Klein had a fourteen months' analysis with 
Karl Abraham. She quotes Abraham as saying in 1924, *The 


future of Psycho- Analysis lies in Play Analysis.' In 1925 Ernest 
Jones invited her to lecture and then to settle in London, and we 
may regard the period from then up to the publication of The 
Psycho- Analysis of Children in 1932 as laying the foundations of 
her distinctive contribution. The book was based on lectures given 
in 1925-7. Though her theory made further developments after 
1932, she wrote in the third Edition in 1948, *this book as it stands 
represents fundamentally the views I hold to-day' (p. 1 3). 

It is interesting to watch the gradual emergence of the main 
Kleinian ideas in the early papers. They are a storehouse of early 
childhood phantasy material. Phantasies that work through only 
slowly and very partially, and often heavily intellectualized and 
disguised, in the dreams and free associations of adults, come out 
with startling directness and detail when played out openly by the 
small child. Mrs. Klein's later views are implicit in the material as 
presented even in the three earliest papers (1919-23). Their main 
theme is that of the influence of sexual libidinal impulses and of 
sexual curiosity on the character, intellectual development and 
ego-activities of the small child. Yet already the themes of sadism 
and anxiety are in the forefront. 

Her general theory at this time was orthodox. Libidinal and 
sexual are equated. Her emphasis on anxiety is clear but is not yet 
related specifically to aggression. She takes for granted Freud's 
'instinct theory' which had just assumed its final form as *life and 
death instincts' in 1920, though the death instinct, on which Mrs. 
Klein later insisted so strongly, is not mentioned in her writing 
prior to 1932. (1932, p. 180.) Repression is regarded as aimed 
essentially against pleasure-toned sexual libidinal impulses. 
Anxiety is converted, frustrated, sexual libido, and Sublimation is 
the sexual cathexis of ego-instincts, activities and interests. On the 
basis of this theoretical position she shows how play, phantasy and 
intellectual development in the very small child are inhibited by 
the repression of sexual curiosity and set free by its release. This 
curiosity develops over four questions : (i) Where do babies come 
from? (2) What are babies made of (food, faeces, etc.)? (3) What 
is the difference between male and female ? (4) What part does the 
father play in the making of a baby ? 

Mrs. Klein's case material (Fritz, aged 5 years) shows that it is 
the fourth problem that presents by far the gravest difficulty to 
the child, so that he cannot even consciously recognize and ask his 
own question without much help. This help, however, is hard to 
give because he resists enlightenment in the most unyielding way. 
It is evident that a specially intense anxiety maintains a heavy 
repression on this disturbing matter of the father's role in the 


genital sexual relationship between him and the mother, i.e. the 
Primal Scene. Mrs. Klein did not, at this early date, go into the 
causes of this peculiarly powerful resistance and repression, but it 
becomes clear that it is due to the factor which was to emerge as 
basic for her theory, namely anxiety and /or guilt concerning 

As littie Fritz consciously accepted and absorbed the know- 
ledge of the father's sexual role, his Oedipus complex became fully 
conscious, bringing out a flood of aggressive phantasies in this 
hitherto very unaggressive little boy. A soldier calls the king a 
dirty beast and is imprisoned and beaten. Fritz is an officer, a 
standard bearer and a trumpeter, and he says : 'If papa were a 
trumpeter too and didn't take me to the war, then I would take 
my own trumpet and my gun and go to the war without him.' 
(1948, p. 45, cf. pp. 40 ff.) Oral, anal and genital sadism and 
general aggressiveness were exposed against his father and sym- 
bolic father-figures in his phantasies, followed by clear primal 
scene phantasies in which Fritz showed himself to be involved in 
identifications with, and displacings of, both parents. As anxiety 
mounted he began to put a stop to aggressive games and re-experi- 
enced his earlier night-terrors, while in phantasy he took up the 
homosexual position in the form of a fear of his father's penis and 
of castration. It is evident that the child must be victim, not 
aggressor, in face of his own anxiety and guilt. Finally it emerged 
that it was anxiety over his mother's fate in the sadistic hetero- 
sexual situation that dictated his flight into the homosexual posi- 
tion. For ultimately the fear of the castrating mother emerged 
from behind the fear of the punishing father, related to the child's 
own hate and aggression against his mother which he turned back 
on to himself. 

All the material required for Mrs. Klein's later theoretical 
developments is set forth in her first paper (191 9-2 1). Anxiety and 
guilt are manifestly due to aggression rather than to sexuality per 
se, arising from the development of sadistic parental images which 
persecute and punish the child for his own aggression with mon- 
strous ruthlessness. Mrs. Klein observes thus early that the origin 
of complexes Hes far back in the pre- verbal period. (1948, p. 62.) 
From this starting-point she gradually proceeds to the employ- 
ment of Freud's new super-ego concept for the explanation of 
these persecuting parental imagos, an explanation which de- 
veloped in course of time into the theory of internal objects, and 
carried back the origin of both the super-ego and the Oedipus 
complex from the Freudian genital phase to the anal and oral 


phases in the second and first years of life. As her theory came to 
centre more and more on aggression, she adopted in the most 
uncompromising way Freud's theory of the death instinct as its 
basis, though that was by no means a necessary step. 

In her second paper Mrs. Klein showed how the unconscious 
sexualization of school, teacher, work and sjx)rt created inhibitions 
and problems for the child after it had emerged from infancy ; for 
all activity that is unconsciously sexualized tends to arouse 'castra- 
tion-anxiety' to put a stop to it, and this can be avoided only by 
finding acceptable 'sublimations' of the repressed sexual com- 
ponent drives, oral, anal and genital. It is already clear in her 
clinical material, as it later became in her theoretical formulations, 
that sexuality becomes a source of disturbance to the child not 
because it is sexuality but because it has become sadistic. There 
could be no motive for the suppression of a purely pleasure-toned 
impulse in the absence of external deprivation and frustration- 
rage. A sexuality that is unconsciously determined by the sadistic 
conception of coitus embodied in the repressed primal scene 
phantasy has become a permanent source of internal conflict, and 
incapable of straightforward, conscious assimilation into the ex- 
perience of the growing child. The future of Melanie Klein's work 
lay in the detailed analysis of the way in which intense aggression 
is aroused in the infant at such an astonishingly early age, and fused 
with his sense of personal need particularly in the form of infantile 
sexuality, to create a sadistic emotional life which makes the infant 
terrified both of himself and of the fate of his love-objects, and 
fills him with persecutory anxiety over their phantasied retaliation 
against him. 

Her third paper, 'Infant Analysis' (1923), deals with anxiety, 
inhibitions, symptoms and sublimations. It falls before Freud's 
monograph on Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety in 1926. 
Already Mrs. Klein's attention had become concentrated on 
anxiety and its causes and manifestations. She wrote : 

Anxiety is one of the primary affects . . . [and] the ego tries in the 
different neuroses to shield itself from the development of anxiety. . . . 
There is probably not a single child who has not suffered from pavor 
nocturnus . . . [and] in all human beings at some time or other 
neurotic anxiety has been present in greater or lesser degree. (1948, 

p. 89.) 

Children often conceal from those around them considerable 
quantities of anxiety . . . some primary anxiety is always hidden 
behind the amnesia of childhood and can only be reconstructed by an 
analysis which penetrates really deep. [Op. cit., p. 89, note.) 


In these early papers her main emphases on aggression and 
anxiety and their relation to the Oedipal conflict have not yet led 
to new theoretical formulations. As these emerged she rightly re- 
garded them as true developments from and beyond Freud's own 
theory. She has, however, never fully recognized that her work 
involves not only a development but also a revision of some of 
Freud's basic ideas. Mrs. Klein's first five papers coincide with 
Freud's second great revolutionary and creative period (1920-26), 
and, as the impact of the 'structural theory' that he originated in 
that period spread throughout the psycho-analytical world, its 
stimulating influence became a major factor in Mrs. Klein's think- 
ing. Had Freud himself recognized the extent to which his ego- 
analysis and structural theory demanded a far-reaching revision 
of his earlier instinct-theory, Mrs. Klein would have been helped 
to the clearer conceptualization of her own discoveries and spared 
the controversies that arose out of a widespread feeling that she 
was unorthodox, a singularly misplaced accusation to make 
against scientific work. As it was, she held to the orthodox, classic 
Freudian theory with one hand while putting a new patch on the 
old garment with the other. This must have hampered her think- 
ing about her own clinical work, where her original genius lay in 
her capacity for direct understanding of the unconscious in the 
very small child. 

This problem is shown by the orthodoxy of her view at the 
outset that primary Hbidinal-sexual pleasure 'draws repression 
upon itself, for repression is directed against the tone of sexual 
pleasure associated with the activity and leads to the inhibition of 
the activity or tendency' [present writer's italics]. (1948, p. 88.) 
The idea that repression is directed against what is pleasurable 
could only be maintained by appealing to the Oedipus conflict as 
orthodoxly conceived, i.e. the child's sexual activity calls forth 
castration-anxiety because of its fear of the jealousy and punitive 
interference of the parent of the same sex. In fact, Mrs. Klein's 
analysis of sadism shows that this view is far too simple, that the 
repression of sexuality is secondary to the repression of aggression, 
and that simple attraction and rivalry is far from being an ade- 
quate account of the complex phenomena that comprise the 
ramifications of the so-called Oedipus complex. By 1932, in The 
Psycho- Analysis of Children, she finalized a definite change of 
viewpoint in this matter. 

The excessive sense of guilt which masturbatory activities arouse 
in children is really aimed at the destructive tendencies residing in 
the phantasies that accompany masturbation. (1932, pp. 164-5.) 


Concerning sexual activity between children she writes ; 

Whether its effect will ultimately be good or bad . . . seems to 
depend on the quantity of sadism present . . . where the positive and 
libidinal factors predominate, such a relationship has a favourable 
influence upon the child's object-relations and capacity for love; but 
where . . . destructive impulses, on one side at any rate, and acts of 
coercion dominate it, it is able to impair the whole development of 
the child in the gravest way. {Ibid., p. 175.) 

This view that it is not sexuaUty per se but aggression, or rather 
the fusion of aggression with sexuality to form sadism, that is 
primarily subjected to repression, impUed that the sense of guilt, 
and the feeling of anxiety, also relate to aggression rather than to 
sexuality. Mrs. Klein's conclusion in 1926 that 'impulses of 
hatred and aggression are the deepest cause and foundation of 
guilt' (1948, p. 26, footnote) is reaffirmed in 1932 in the words: 
'the child's early anxiety and feelings of guilt have their origin in 
aggressive impulses connected with the Oedipus conflict'. (1948, 
p. 26.) ^ ^ > 

In the Preface to the third edition of The Psycho- Analysis of 
Children Mrs. IClein summarizes the position she had reached in 
1932, when the book was first published; the 'essential hypotheses' 
were as follows : 

In the first few months of life infants pass through states of perse- 
cutory anxiety which are bound up with the 'phase of maximal 
sadism' ; the young infant also experiences feelings of guilt about his 
destructive impulses and phantasies which are directed against his 
primary object — his mother, first of all her breast. These feelings of 
guilt give rise to the tendency to make reparation to the injured 
object. (1932, p. II.) 

To this we may add her statement on page 28 that : 

The Oedipus conflict sets in as early as the second half of the first 
year of life and ... at the same time the child begins to modify it and 
to build up its super-ego. 

In Part 2 of the book she reviewed all her findings concerning 
the early developmental stages of the infant as dominated by the 
central factor of aggression originating at first in the frustration of 
oral needs. Thus her theory came to concentrate on the analysis 
of the earliest stages of super-ego formation, and the significance, 
and effects on development of the ego, of the earliest anxiety- 
situations. It was the still closer analysis of these early anxiety- 
situations that later led her to distinguish an early paranoid posi- 


tion of the first three to five months, and a depressive phase from 
the sixth to the eight month, the early stages of the Oedipus com- 
plex being then correlated with the depressive and ambivalent 
position. Thus emerged her important distinction between perse- 
cutory and depressive anxiety. 

Melanie Klein's theory amounts at this stage to a reorientation 
of psycho-analysis on the basis of aggression rather than hbido as 
the pathogenic factor arising in response to Hbidinal frustration. 
Libidinal development takes place under the dominance of aggres- 
sion and frustration-rage, and is turned into sadism in the hate- 
motivated infantile psyche. A complex anxiety is evoked in the 
child by his destructive impulses, an anxiety made up of his fear 
of being himself destroyed by their violence, and the fear of 
destroying his objects together with the projection of his sadism 
on to them and the fear that they will retaUate destructively on 
him. Since the super-ego is the carrier of this aggression turned 
inwards against himself, the analysis of the early anxiety situa- 
tions and of the formation of the super-ego must proceed together. 
The importance of this approach is seen from Mrs. Klein's view of 
psychotherapy as the mitigation of the severity of the super-ego 
together with the strengthening of the weak ego of the child. 
(1932, pp. 19 and 35.) Anxiety and guilt aroused by the sadistic 
super-ego press upon the immature ego. 'There are always present 
not only wishes but counter-tendencies coming from the super- 
ego.' (1932, p. 34, footnote.) Anxiety and guilt constitute the core 
of the neurosis, i.e. interference with active ego-functioning, and 
the psycho-analytic situation has come into existence when contact 
has been made with the child's deep, repressed anxiety and guilt. 
(1932, p. 96.) 

Mrs. Klein first analysed the early anxiety phases and super-ego 
stages in the phenomena of the successive oral, anal and genital 
levels of development, as revealed in early phantasy. She was con- 
fronted with an abundance of phantasies in which her child 
patients fought with or were persecuted by soldiers, burglars and 
robbers, fierce wild animals, giants, bizarre creatures and symbolic 
parent-figures of many kinds. The weapons and means of combat 
and destruction included sucking, biting, eating, cooking and 
devouring, emptying, wetting, dirtying, stealing body contents and 
cutting off organs, penetrating, stabbing and so on. The symbol- 
ism is easily recognized as falling into the oral, anal and genital 
categories already established by Freud from adult analyses. 

Ernest Jones, in his Introduction to Mrs. Klein's Contributions 
to Psycho- Analysis J ig2i-i945 has written : 


Freud had shown that the child's mind contained in its depths 
much besides the innocence and freshness that so entrance us. There 
were dark fears of possibilities that the most gruesome fairy tale had 
not dared to explore, cruel impulses where hate and murder rage 
freely, irrational phantasies that mock at reality in their extrava- 
gance. Mrs. Klein's unsparing presentation of the cutting, tearing, 
gouging, devouring phantasies of infants is apt to make most people 
recoil. . . . She went further than this by maintaining that the Cim- 
merian picture Freud had drawn of the unconscious mind of a three- 
year-old was at least as valid of an infant of the first months of life. 
. . . Devouring or cannibalistic phantasies had been observed and 
traced to perhaps the age of three. But Mrs. Klein ruthlessly main- 
tains that they occur during the so-called cannibalistic stage of in- 
fancy itself, which after all seems what one would have expected. 
(1948, pp. lO-II.) 

Those who have played freely with little children will need little 
convincing about this. The little child has not yet learned the trick 
of abstracting his mind from his body and setting up that strange 
dichotomy which enables adults to shelve many personal prob- 
lems. The child is an intensely 'embodied person', and Mrs. Klein's 
material shows him to be emotionally preoccupied with 'embodied 
j>ersons'. His phantasies are all of bodies, attacks on bodies, getting 
something out of one body and into another body with fears of 
retaliatory reversals of this procedure, of robbing and injuring 
bodies and healing and repairing the damage done to them. This 
begins with oral hunger for the breast where 'coitus' between 
child and mother is in terms of sucking, biting, eating, greedily 
devouring. A pattern of relationships is created in the child's feel- 
ing and phantasy which is then applied in turn to urethral, anal 
and genital functions and relationships, to feeding, cleanliness 
training and genital coitus between parents (not seldom witnessed 
or heard, but sooner or later always phantasied), and to all kinds 
of personal relationships. Coitus in the primal scene is felt by the 
child and interpreted on the analogy of the original coitus of child 
and mother at the oral stage, and the child experiences rage and 
jealousy (in proportion as he has already become insecure) due to 
the fact that he feels that his parents are getting something from 
each other (by exchange and incorporation of bodily substances 
and organs — the only terms in which the infant can experience 
anything) while he himself feels excited, stimulated with needs and 
longings, but left out, ignored and left unsatisfied. He usually 
reacts with bodily expressions of his rage such as wetting and 


dirtying, while in phantasy he attacks the parents who seem to be 
combined against him. 

In due course as the child develops, sexual curiosity emerges 
within the total personality, and in so far as this immature per- 
sonality is already disturbed by lack of satisfaction of vital needs 
and hence by frustration-rage, so that its fundamental libidinal 
life of feeling and phantasy has turned sadistic, this curiosity but 
adds one more activity over which to feel guilt and anxiety, and 
over which to institute repression. The resulting inhibitions may 
damage intellectual development as thoroughly as the earlier 
repressions damage emotional spontaneity in personal relation- 
ships. Basically Mrs. Klein's view is that it is oral, anal and genital 
sadism that are the source of anxiety and the targets of repression 
under the force of anxiety and guilt. The super-ego, which incor- 
porates the infant's sadism turned against himself, includes oral, 
anal and genital components as may be seen by the pre-genitally 
symbolized attacks under which the infant suffers in his phantasy 
and play. This super-ego takes the form of an internalized version 
of the child's loved and hated parental objects on to whom his 
own aggression has been projected and thus used up in his own 
punishment for his phantasied attacks on them. 

Two comments call to be made about Mrs. Klein's conclusions 
up to this point. Firstly, Mrs. Klein is so busy analysing the endo- 
psychic situation in the child that the child's environment seems to 
be taken only cursorily into account. Generalized references to 
oral frustration occur, particularized as 'unfavourable conditions 
of nutrition'. (1932, p. 180.) The traumatic effect of witnessing 
the primal scene is specifically taken account of. But the case- 
histories of the child patients do not contain much information of 
a more detailed kind concerning the parents. The mother of the 
patient Rita is stated to have been suffering from a severe obses- 
sional neurosis. (1932, p. 24.) The birth and activities of siblings 
are reckoned into the picture. But one misses more subtle char- 
acterizations of traumatic environmental factors such as Winni- 
cott's mention of 'erratic mothering', or the existence of uncon- 
scious hate and rejection of the child in the mother, or the effect of 
maternal types on the quality of mothering given to the child. An 
impression grows that in the main the child's troubles are for the 
most part internally generated, the environment supplying only an 
initial 'push'. Thereafter neurosis develops by an almost wholly 
endopsychic process and inner conflicts are automatic and self- 
generated developmental phenomena. Perhaps this trend is in- 
cidental to the necessary concentration on the endopsychic prob- 
lem in the early stages of its more intimate analysis, but is dan- 


gerous if it persists into the realm of final conclusions. In The 
Psycho-Analysis of Children Mrs. Klein writes : 

In my judgment, reality and real objects affect the child's anxiety- 
situations from the very earliest stages of its existence, in the sense 
that it regards them as so many proofs or refutations of its anxiety 
situations, which it has displaced into the outer world. (1932, p. 302.) 

This amounts to the view that our experience of outer reality is 
from the start secondary and subordinate to internal experience, a 
highly controversial view. 

Secondly, Mrs. ELlein's discussion of anxiety is vitiated by her 
use of the speculative concept of the death instinct. E. Jones called 
attention to this as one of his points of disagreement with, or at 
least doubt about, her views. Thus Mrs. Klein regards oral-suck- 
ing as libidinal and oral-biting as sadistic ; 'the polarity between 
the life-instincts and the death-instincts is already coming out in 
these phenomena of early infancy, for we may regard the force of 
the child's fixation at the oral-sucking level as an expression of the 
force of its libido, and, similarly, the early and powerful emergence 
of its oral sadism as a sign of the ascendency of its destructive 
instinctual components'. (1932, p. 180.) She quotes with approval 
a passage of Therese Benedek : 'Anxiety, therefore, is not a fear of 
death but the perception of the death-instinct that has been 
liberated in the organism — the perception of primary masochism.' 
{Todestreib und Angst, 1931.) Some analysts had already uncriti- 
cally accepted the death instinct as an established fact rather than 
a questionable speculation. (1932, M. IClein, p. 183.) It implies 
the view rejected by O. Fenichel that neurosis is caused by a 
purely innate 'conflict between contradictory biological needs in 
an entirely endogenous manner'. (Quoted on p. 193.) This led 
Mrs. Klein to rely on an innate and primary sadism which set up 
an equally innate primary masochism operating alongside of the 
libidinal drives. This in turn obscured the fact that her own 
analysis pointed to aggression as being a reactive development in 
face of bad objects, and being internally aimed as a result of, and 
indeed in the process of, the internalization of bad objects. Her 
work should lead to an equal emphasis on parental impacts on the 
child and on the subjective elaboration of the bad object situation 
in the child's experience. 

Mrs. Klein considers this question in the light of Freud's views. 
She writes : 

Concerning the formation of the super-ego, Freud seems to follow 
two lines of thought, which are to some extent mutually compli- 
mentary. According to one the severity of the super-ego is derived 


from the severity of the real father whose prohibitions and commands 
it repeats. According to the other ... its severity is an outcome of 
the destructive impulses of the subject. 

Psycho-analysis has not followed up the second line of thought. 
As its literature shows, it has adopted the theory that the super-ego 
is derived from parental authority and has made this theory the basis 
of all further enquiry into the subject. Nevertheless, Freud has re- 
cently, in part, confirmed my own view, which lays emphasis on the 
importance of the impulses of the individual himself as a factor in 
the origin of his super-ego and on the fact that his super-ego is not 
identical with his real objects. (1932, pp. 196-8.) 

Thus, while Freud leaned too heavily towards the side of the 
external origin of the super-ego, Mrs. Klein risks leaning too far 
over in the opposite direction till at times the super-ego as inwardly 
directed aggression seems to become a purely subjective develop- 
ment of the death instinct in spite of the fact that her work pro- 
vides a fully satisfactory developmental analysis of sadism and 
masochism without any need to call in this so-called instinct. 

This point provides a suitable opportunity to look more closely 
at the relationship of Mrs. Klein's work to that of Freud. With a 
group of co-workers, of whom the best known were Susan Isaacs, 
Paula Heimann and Joan Riviere, she created from the later 
1920s a theoretical development of classic Freudian psycho- 
analysis round which much controversy has raged. Some of the 
ultra-orthodox such as Edward Glover regard it frankly as a 
'deviation' from Freud. This has caused a number of British 
analysts of recent years to state explicitly that theory cannot stand 
still with the death of Freud. In any case the term 'deviation' 
specifically used by Glover is one that savours more of poHtical 
differences from the Party-line than of scientific discussion, in 
which connection it ought to be regarded as inadmissible. Ameri- 
can psycho-analysts, apart from Bibring, do not appear as yet to 
have made a serious attempt to get to grips with Mrs. Klein's 
work, while Bibring's critical examination of it is too limited in 
scope to touch the really critical issues. There is evidently con- 
siderable resistance and guilt felt about departures from the 
Founder's system. 

However, the charge that Kleinian theory is a deviation of a 
type that deprives it of the right to be called 'psycho-analysis' 
cannot be regarded as proved. Her work is a true development 
of Freud's insights. Perhaps the most astonishing thing about 
Freud is that he himself provided practically all the initial insights 
and observations which were starting-points to enable later 


workers to think their way beyond the positions he formulated. 
The student is bound to acquire a competent knowledge of Freud 
before he can begin to understand the work of Melanie Klein, and 
subsequently Fairbaim. Her theory rests on such basic concepts as 
Freud's theory of libidinal and aggressive (destructive) instincts, 
the classical theory of the complex nature of sexual development 
through oral, anal and phallic phases to the goal of libidinal 
integration and maturity at the genital level, the phenomena of 
repression, inhibition, symptom formation and sublimation, the 
Freudian theory of psychic structure — i.e. the id, ego and super- 
ego, by means of which psychic conflict and the arousal of anxiety 
and guilt are made manifest — and finally the operation of the ego 
defence mechanisms. 

The most important Kleinian literature comprises three books 
by Mrs. Klein; The Psycho-Analysis of Children (1932), Con- 
tributions to Psycho-Analysis (1948), her collected papers, and 
Envy and Gratitude (1957), two comprehensive symposia, De- 
velopments in Psycho-Analysis (1952) by Melanie Klein and 
others, and New Directions in Psycho-Analysis (1955) edited by 
M. Klein, P. Heimann and R. Money-Kyrle : also a small book. 
Love, Hate and Reparation (1937, reprinted 1953) by Klein and 
Riviere. Developments in Psycho-Analysis is a publication, with 
modifications and additions, of contributions to private 'Discus- 
sions' of the Kleinian theory held by the British Psycho-analytical 
Society in 1943—4. New Directions in Psycho-Analysis reproduces, 
with additions, the birthday number of the International Journal 
of Psycho-Analysis in honour of Mrs. Klein in 1952. (Vol. 
XXXIII, Pt. 2.) Four important studies of her theories have 
appeared : by Ed. Glover, 'An Examination of the Klein System 
of Child Psychology' (1945); by Ed. Bibring, 'The So-Called 
English School of Psycho-Analysis' (1947); by Marjorie Brierley 
(195 1, ch. 3) and by J. O. Wisdom (in a review in The British 
Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1956)). Glover is hostile, 
Bibring is critical, Brierley and Wisdom are sympathetic. 

Perhaps the question of 'instinct' is the most convenient matter 
over which to raise the apparently vexed issue as to whether Mrs. 
Klein's work is a deviation from that of Freud. We have stated 
our view that on general grounds the charge fails, yet the critics of 
Klein have sensed something they have not clearly stated. Joan 
Riviere successfully rebuts the charge by showing that Melanie 
Klein developed hints and suggestions embodied in Freud's own 
writings, thus carrying his work farther at those very points where 
Freud left an open invitation to further research. When, in addi- 
tion to that line of argument, Riviere bases her vindication of 


Klein's loyalty to Freud on the ground that, above all, her work 
demonstrates and develops the truth of Freud's theory of the 
death instinct, that notably controversial issue in psycho-analysis, 
one feels that FCleinian writers, immersed in the massive details 
of their analysis of infancy, have not seen the wood for the trees. 
In fact, their work is essentially a supersession of instinct-theory 
in Freud's sense. Mrs. Klein retained so much of classic Freudian 
theory, and in particular instinct theory, that she did not recognize 
that her discoveries outmoded important parts of the classic 
'psychobiology', providing, in fact, the material for a more con- 
sistently psychodynamic theory. Mrs. Klein's '^deviation' from 
Freud consists, in fact, of the radical development of Freud's own 
greatest deviation from himself. She has elaborated Freud's theory 
of the super-ego into a fully psychological view of mental develop- 
ment, while retaining Freud's own blindness to the fact that this 
constitutes a theory different in principle from the earlier instinct- 

2. The New Emphasis on Aggression 

Freud himself had, after at first concentrating almost entirely on 
libidinal problems, begun to bring 'aggression' more and more to 
the front, and Mrs. Klein carried further that trend. Apart from 
the background of general theory, the developments arising out 
of Mrs. Klein's pioneer analysis of children by play-technique 
rest upon the use of such basic Freudian concepts as identification, 
introjection, projection (borrowed from psychiatry), psychic 
reality, phantasy, anxiety, and the super-ego as an internalized 
version of parent-figures. These are, however, all purely psycho- 
dynamic concepts owing nothing at all to psychobiology and 
instinct-theory. She goes beyond Freud in the tracing out of types 
of primitive phantasy, the development and types of infantile 
anxiety, the internal phantasied and felt situations in which 
anxiety rises, and the formation of a whole inner world of psychic 
(i.e. mental or imaginary) objects, good and bad, on the model of 
the super-ego. All this springs from the fact that just as Freud 
made an analytical investigation into the development of the 
libidinal aspects of psychic life, so Melanie Klein took over from 
him and carried on the task of making a truly psychodynamic 
analysis of the development of aggression, particularly in its anti- 
libidinal aspect. She shows how the arousal of aggression and its 
development as a persisting feature of the psychic life, through the 
agencies of projection and introjection and internal-object forma- 
tion, creates chronic anxiety and determines the whole complex 
process of the evolution of the inner psychic world. 


Thus, when Mrs. Klein and her associates hold on to instinct- 
theory with grim tenacity, they obscure the bearing of their own 
work. We repeatedly find that a searching analysis of some prob- 
lem of aggression is given in terms of the developmental processes 
of infancy, and then, at the end, the whole phenomenon is sud- 
denly referred to the death instinct. Often this appears to be an 
afterthought, for 'death instinct' turns up in brackets, thus: 
'. . . under the pressure of intense anxiety (ultimately deriving 
from the death instinct).' (1952, p. 35.) It forms a kind of bio- 
logical mysticism, an epiphenomenon which adds nothing to the 
real substance of the work, a guarantee of Freudian orthodoxy 
that obscures the importance of new ways of thinking. Mrs. Klein 
and her associates still talk the language of 'instinct and impulse- 
psychology', while their really creative thought is in terms of 
'object-relations psychology' and of Freud's analysis of ego- 

Joan Riviere, referring to new varieties of psycho-analysis, 

one feature is common to all these; they have all disputed or denied 
the basic source and origin of human psychology, as postulated by 
Freud, in the instincts with their bodily organs and aims. Freud's 
approach was biological from the start. . . . Melanie Klein's work 
retains this fundamental relation of psychology to the biological core 
of the human organism, its function as a vehicle of the instincts, 
which Freud recognized. (1952, p. 6.) 

On the next page she contradicts this statement. 

The most important instance of Freud's own indecisive attitude 
about his theories is that of his postulation of the life and death in- 
stincts ... he was careful not to make it a first principle of psycho- 
analysis. {Op. cit.y p. 7.) 

Yet two pages later she reverts to the first position again. 

Freud put forward the duality of the life and death instincts as 
the fundamental antithesis in the unconscious . . . after which he 
constantly and repeatedly referred to it as the foundation of intra- 
psychic conflict. {Op. cit., p. 9.) 

In elaborating this view Riviere says : 

The enormity, to our adult minds, of the destructiveness and 
cruelty ... in babies ceases to be such an insoluble mystery when, as 
(Klein) shows, Freud's hypothesis of a destroying force in our minds, 
always in interaction with a life-preserving force, is allowed its due 


significance. This concept of a destructive force within every in- 
dividual, tending towards the annihilation of life, is naturally one 
which arouses extreme emotional resistance. [Op, cit., pp. 2-3.) 

Emotional resistance is felt surely to the fact of deep repressed 
aggression, and not to any particular theory of it. One cannot 
argue, as Riviere does, that this resistance is the cause of the 
neglect by psycho-analysts of Freud's theory of a death instinct. 
The concept has been legitimately criticized on theoretical grounds 
as we have seen in an earlier chapter, and it is possible to accept 
Melanie Klein's disturbing analysis of infantile aggression and at 
the same time to feel that the idea of a death instinct adds no 
further illumination of the problem. Nor can the claim be accepted 
that no theory is properly psycho-analytical unless based on 
Freud's theory of instincts. Freud himself did not lay down any 
such criterion. In his paper in 19 14 On the History of the Psycho- 
Analytic Movement, he wrote : 

The doctrine of repression is the foundation stone on which the 
whole structure of psycho-analysis rests . . . the theory of psycho- 
analysis is an attempt to account for two observed facts that strike 
one conspicuously and unexpectedly whenever an atternpt is made 
to trace the symptoms of a neurotic back to their sources in his past 
life : the facts of transference and resistance. {C.P., I, pp. 297-8.) 

The criticism of all types of instinct-theory with respect to their 
adequacy for psychological explanation is to-day far too radical 
and widespread to admit of such a claim. 

In point of fact, Mrs. Klein's success in achieving a thorough- 
going and purely clinical analysis of the early development of 
aggression as a function of bad-object relationships, makes it the 
more plain that the speculative idea of a death instinct does not 
represent anything that is actually clinically presented but some- 
thing that, from the clinical point of view, is an a priori assumj> 

Thus Joan Riviere remarks : 

Many psychic manifestations show that a threat from the death 
instinct produces a strong uprush of Eros, and we may fairly con- 
clude that the aim of this process is to counteract the destructive 
forces felt to be within. (1952, pp. 52-3.) 

But such terms as 'death instinct' and 'Eros' are vague mysticisms 
which have no exact scientific connotation, whereas we are on the 
solid ground of observable clinical phenomena when it is said that 
intense sexual impulses may arise as a craving for a protective 


union with a good object in the outer world because the individual 
is suffering from imagined destructive attacks by bad objects 
(often visible in nightmares) in the inner world; or in a more 
general and comprehensive way when Melanie Klein says that 
sexual relationships can function 'as a disproof by means of reality 
of [the] fear of [one's] own sexuality and that of [one's] object as 
something destructive'. (1932, p. 305.) 

The enormous aggression and cruelty developed in babies, as 
revealed in infantile phantasies of biting, tearing in pieces, etc., is 
adequately accounted for by Melanie Klein as a developmental 
phenomenon, and does not need the postulate of an innate, per- 
manent aggressive drive working always towards destruction. It 
is sufficiently explained by the fact of the infant's defective or 
immature sense of reality, and its lack of developed ego-control to 
moderate the rapid increase of emotional tensions to dangerous 
extremes : a vicious circle of frustration, anger, fear and increased 
tension spirals upwards. The infant's inexperience of objective 
reality and his incapacity to recognize either his own exaggerated 
interpretation of his frustrations or the effects of aggression, leaves 
him unprotected against the blind interaction of tJie projection of 
his own rage on to his objects, and the introjection of his objects 
as he now sees them coloured by his aggression in addition to their 
own. He is then at the mercy of phantastically violent internal 
persecutors, and this means that his emotions cannot be kept at 
realistic and appropriate levels. 

Melanie Klein's work, being in the first place an analysis of 
aggression as a post-natal development, has no specific bearing on 
the theory of a death instinct and neither proves nor disproves it. 
But it does provide us with a means of accounting for personality 
phenomena as clinically presented without need to have recourse 
to instinct-theory except in the quite restricted, purely biological 
sense of initial, innate potentiality prior to development. This 
fact is probably the basis for the feeling among orthodox analysts 
that the Klein system is a deviation from Freud. If it is, the 
deviation was unwittingly started by Freud himself. Melanie 
Klein's is a theory of personality development and structuring in 
a purely psychodynamic sense. 

An oft-repeated criticism of Melanie Klein is that she reads 
back into the first two years what belongs to later stages of develop- 
ment, in particular with respect to genital sexual and to super-ego 
phenomena. This may be considered here in the form in which it 
is made by Bibring in an article entitled 'The So-called English 
School of Psycho- Analysis'. (1947, pp. 69-93.) ^^ states that Mrs. 
Klein set herself to fill the gap left unexplored by Freud between 


birth and the second or third year, the pre-Oedipal stage, includ- 
ing the vicissitudes of the neglected aggressive drives and the 
development of the primitive ego. However, he narrows down his 
critical examination of her view mainly to one issue, the problem 
of the sources of sexual excitement in childhood. This was stated 
by Freud in physiological terms, in the Three Contributions to 
Sexual Theory and The Economic Problem of Masochism, Sexual 
excitement arises as a secondary effect of other internal processes 
when they reach a certain degree of intensity. Mrs. Klein, says 
Bibring, sought a solution of this problem not on physiological but 
on purely psychological grounds. Early anxiety situations start- 
ing with oral frustrations, intensify needs and arouse angers which 
fuse into oral sadism. This becomes an internal obstacle to the 
satisfaction of needs, which makes existing external frustration 
worse, in a vicious circle. The infant feels his sadistic impulses 
threaten him with extermination internally, as well as threaten 
his object with destruction. The pressure of anxiety forces the ego 
to mobilize defence mechanisms, i.e. to develop. Too early and 
violent arousal of oral sadism constitutes a premature excitation 
of sexiud tensions. 

Defences such as projection, introjection, the spreading of 
damned-up tensions to urethral, anal, muscular, genital and other 
bodily functions lead to the creation of an imaginary or hallucin- 
ated world of inner mental experience, according to Freud's 
hypothesis that the infant hallucinates fulfilment when frustration 
is prolonged. The particularly important view of Mrs. Klein, 
according to Bibring, is that intense oral tensions can and do 
prematurely arouse, and cause a precipitate unfolding and de- 
velopment of genital tensions in a way that leads to unconscious 
knowledge of genital functions. The receptivity of the mouth to 
the breast leads on to that of the vagina needing to receive a penis, 
the teeth biting and penetrating the breast lead on to the penis 
penetrating a hole in the body, via intermediate linking experi- 
ences including anal ones. (One of my own hysteric patients 
said, T want a breast in my mouth and a penis in my vagina 
all at the same time.') As a result of this, primal scene phantasies, 
not only of oral and anal but of genital kinds, come into 
being. Mrs. Klein's is a theory of genetic continuity of develop- 
ment without gaps or breaks, in an ever-elaborating phantasy 
life which involves premature development of even genital experi- 
ence, sensation and symbolism in the first year of life. She places 
the origins of both the super-ego and the Oedipus complex in that 
early period. 

Bibring writes : 


An entirely new developmental factor appears at this point, a 
vague 'knowledge' (in whatever form it may exist) about external 
facts such as the complementary sex organs, arrived at with the help 
of internal data like obscure reference sensations and impulses. Since 
this 'knowledge' is in a way a constituent part of the impulses and 
sensations in question, I propose to call it 'sensation or impulse' 
knowledge (p. 79). 

He quotes Mrs. Klein thus : 

Oral frustration arouses in the child an unconscious knowledge 
that its parents enjoy mutual sexual pleasures. (1932, p. 188.) 

Thus in the first years the infant enters into the pcdnful early 
Oedipal conflicts similar to those of a child of two to three years. 

Bibring regards the Kleinian scheme as resting on two funda- 
mental concepts : first, this theory of development (premature 
activation and precipitate development), and second, the theory 
of innate unconscious knowledge of sex. He criticizes the theory 
of development on the grounds that not enough account is taken 
of limitations set by biological maturation, and of causes to be 
looked for in further and continuing environmental experience; 
that too much is attributed to premature over-stimulation; that 
development is more than a defence mechanism, and the 'motors' 
of development are more than tensions and anxieties. Concerning 
this last objection it may be said that Mrs. Klein is referring to 
psychopathological development in the main rather than normal 
development, though she beUeves that all infants undergo this 
disturbed development to some degree. 

Concerning Bibring's other criticisms, the relationship between 
endopsychic development and biological maturation is a matter 
for much further detailed research and Mrs. Klein's theories have 
forced this matter to the forefront. We may be content to regard 
her work at this point more as a challenge to further investigation 
than merely as a target for criticism. We have already made sub- 
stantially the same criticism as Bibring of Mrs. Klein's tendency to 
minimize if not actually to ignore, the environmental factor in 
favour of a too-exclusively endopsychic view of development. 
Bibring writes : 'There is no substantiation for the conception of a 
development nearly exclusively from within' (p. 85), or for a 
'development that is to a very large extent endopsychic and in- 
dependent of any appropriate external stimulation' (p. 85). Yet it 
may well be that Mrs. Klein, under pressure of her pioneer ex- 
ploration of the subjectively conditioned aspects of 'inner world' 
development, is guilty only of an error of over-emphasis on her 


own immediate approach. Her work has made it far easier to 
understand how it is that human beings, in proportion as they are 
more seriously mentally ill, do in fact live more and more sub- 
jectively, and interpret outer reality more and more in terms of 
their inner phantasy. Her work has led in fact to a deeper study of 
the way in which human beings live in two worlds at once, an 
outer and an inner world, and how the two are constantly con- 
fused even while they also have a separate and independent 
existence relative to each other. 

We shall not here attempt a detailed examination of Bibring's 
criticism of Mrs. Klein's theory of innate and unconscious know- 
ledge. It is another point at which her work is first and foremost a 
challenge to further exact research. Rather we would emphasize 
that whatever the final verdict may be on these detailed aspects 
of her total theory, her main contribution is not touched by 
criticism of these points. The science of biological evolution is the 
tracing of intermediate links and the overcoming of the older view 
that nature grew by jumps and gaps. We would expect continuity 
of development from birth to the genital Oedipal period to be 
true in principle, however much difference of opinion is legitimate 
about details, pending further research. Mrs. Klein found that in 
patients as young as the second half of the third year elaborate 
systems of phantasy of a sexual nature, concerning the relations of 
the mother and father to each other and to the child, were already 
in existence and full activity, and determining serious anxiety and 
guilt. Symptoms of this state of affairs, such as pavor nocturnus, 
were recognizable at a still earlier age, showing that all this could 
not spring up fully developed and suddenly into the mind of the 
child of two years and six months onwards. Such phenomena were 
bound to be already an end-product of processes in the second and 
first year, as was evident from their anal and oral components. 
Mrs. Klein sought to trace out this early history and arrived at 
the conception of a period of maximum sadism at weaning time, 
the development of persecutory and depressive positions, and the 
formation of internal objects (the super-ego) arousing persecutory 
anxiety and guilt, all in the first year of life. Her theory of the 
super-ego makes it a blanket-term covering all internal objects, 
good and bad, so that her theory of the internal objects world is 
a development of Freud's theory of the super-ego. In play, the 
child from the third year gives unmistakable representations of 
these internal objects and of their relations with one another and 
with himself, so that his play is an acting out of his phantasy life. 
In tracing the evolution of this state of affairs from the first through 
the second year, is Mrs. Klein reading back the phenomena of the 


third into the first year, or is she following the carrying forward of 
oral patterns into later phases in ways that determine the later 
unfolding ? 

That is the question concerning her theory of development, the 
only part of her theory that Bibring examines. Suppose he is right 
that her views imply a biologically impossible precipitation of de- 
velopment too far in advance of biological maturation, and that 
she reads back too much too early. We are still left with the fact 
that by the second half of the third year the child's emotional 
make-up finds expression in a most complicated sexual phantasy 
life which he plays out in the form of conflicts between himself 
and his bad objects against whom he seeks the help of good objects. 
These situations also duplicate the relationships which he phan- 
tasies as existing between his objects themselves. These objects, 
good and bad, already bear little actual relationship to his real 
parents, and are phantasied internal figures created somehow in 
the first two years, and now forming the structural basis of his per- 
sonality. Bibring does not deal with the real psychodynamic con- 
tribution of Mrs. Klein, her 'internal objects' structural theory 
arising out of her far more detailed analysis of the 'super-ego'. If 
her views of the detailed course of development in the first two 
years are open to criticism, still her theory of endopsychic struc- 
ture in terms of internal objects opened the way to a new approach 
to psychodynamic theory in general, making it a true theory of 
personality. In Mrs. Klein's work the phantasy life of the third 
year is (i) a clue to the child's previous emotional history, and (2) 
a clue to the present and subsequent structural organization of his 
personality. The first is her theory of early development, the 
premature activation of genital experiences in the oral stage, 
leaving Uttle place for regression from genital to oral in Freud's 
sense, and envisaging an 'oral-genital' phase in the oral phase itself 
leading on later through anal to true genital phenomena. Bibring 
says : 'Mrs. Klein has retrojected into the earher stages of develop- 
ment much that belongs to later stages. However, many suggestions 
made by Klein and others with regard to early experiences will 
probably be of great value' (p. 92). In the opinion of the present 
writer that is already proving to be an understatement, consider- 
ing the far-reaching issues raised by the second part of her theory 
concerning internal objects and endopsychic structure. 

Chapter XI 


We have traced the gradual emergence in Mrs. Klein's work of 
a central emphasis on aggression, especially on that fusion of 
sexuality and aggression known as sadism. This she found to be 
entrenched in the Freudian super-ego and operating in theOedipal 
situation, the origins of both of which she traced back into the 
first year of Ufe. We saw how this was referred even farther back 
into the hereditary constitution, in terms of Freud's innate conflict 
between Life and Death, or Hbidinal and destructive, instincts. 
J. O. Wisdom remarks that 

(It appears to be a non-object-relation theory for her as for Freud.) 
There is just as much difficulty in seeing what clinical bearing or 
explanatory power it has with her approach as with Freud's; just the 
same difficulty in understanding why it is regarded as needed at all; 
and just the same difficulty in admitting it to the status of a scientific 
theory. (1956, p. 108.) 

Wisdom further remarks that 'hers is throughout an object-rela- 
tions theory' {pp. cit., pp. 108-9), thus stressing its incompatibility 
with instinct-theory. We agree with Wisdom that her work is 
'definitely incompatible with Freud's theories of primary nar- 
cissism and libido and . . . require [s] revision of ego-theory.' {Op. 
cit., p. 1 09.) The view we have taken is that her work is a develop- 
ment from and beyond Freud's ego-analysis and his structural 
theory. This we must now study in more detail. 

Clinically her orientation is dominated by emphasis on anxiety, 
theoretically by the development of her structural concept of the 
internal object. The central position she accorded to aggression 
links these two, for she regards it as the main cause of the infant's 
anxiety on the one hand and the dynamic drive leading to struc- 
tural differentiation in terms of internal objects on the other. Joan 
Riviere writes : 


Anxiety, with the defences against it, has from the beginning been 
Melanie Klein's approach to psycho-analytical problems. It was from 
this angle that she discovered the existence and importance of the 
aggressive elements in children's emotional life, which led her to her 
present formulations about persecutory and depressive anxieties and 
the defences used by the early ego against them. (1952, pp. 8-9.) 

The title of chapter 10 of The Psycho- Analysis of Children, 
namely 'The Significance of Early Anxiety-Situations in the De- 
velopment of the Ego', is itself a kind of summary of her theory. 
This is one of psychic development in the early and most formative 
yeai^ as dominated by anxieties of two kinds, persecutory and 
depressive. These are caused by aggression which, in the course 
of development, builds up an internal psychic world full of bad 
objects which menace and endanger both the ego and its neces- 
sary good objects inside and out. It is in this development that 
aggression itself elaborates and becomes a permanently active 
factor in the psyche. It can only be understood, therefore, not as 
an innate but as a developmental phenomenon, arising out of bad- 
object relationships inside as well as outside the psyche. 

Thus Klein carries object-relationships right back through the 
Freudian so-called narcissistic and autoerotic phases to the begin- 
ning of the infant's separate bodily life. It is the importance, not 
of instinct but of the earliest experiences in object-relationship, 
not of innate factors but of developmental experiences in the first 
two years, which her work emphasizes. Her detailed factual 
analysis of this situation led both to the 'internal objects' theory 
and the differentiation of persecutory and depressive anxieties. 
The structural theory clarifies the 'early anxiety-situations' out of 
which these two types of anxiety arise. 

Summarizing Mrs. Klein's theory thus far, Wisdom writes : 

Freud and Ferenczi had introduced introjection into analysis, 
where it played an important though minor role. Mrs. Klein gives it 
a dominating position : she holds that all sorts of objects are intro- 
jected, i.e. that there are 'internal objects' resulting from the intro- 
jection or phantasied incorporation of either of the two parents or 
parts of them. A part of a person (such as a breast) is called a 'part- 
object'. These introjected (or internal) objects, whether whole or 
part, are felt to be either good or bad because the child projects his 
own feelings into them. This is the main structural hypothesis. Dis- 
turbances are held to be due to one or other (or both) of two things 
{a) loss or destruction by the self of internal good objects, and {h) 
persecution of the self by internal bad objects. These disturbances 
are experienced respectively as depressive-anxiety and persecutory- 


anxiety. Thus they result from attacks by or on the self. Aggression 
therefore plays at least as important a part as sexuality; it is given 
a central position which it hardly occupies in Freud's theory. {Op, 
cit.,p. 105.) 

The change of emphasis to aggression is, however, greater than is 
suggested by the comment 'at least as important a part as sexual- 
ity' ; for whereas in Freud's original theory sexuality was itself the 
source of pathological developments, now aggression has definitely 
taken over that role. Persecutory anxiety arises if one is under 
direct attack oneself, if aggression goes against the ego. It is fear 
for one's own safety. Kleinians, parting company here with Freud, 
believe that the internal dangers to which the ego can feel exposed 
in the unconscious may be so great as to develop into a fear of 
death, a terror of extinction and annihilation. Such persecutory 
anxieties can be easily observed in fear dreams in later life, where 
the dreamer is being attacked by wild animals, burglars, concen- 
tration camp torturers, sinister evil figures, or bombs and im- 
personal agencies of destruction. This persecutory anxiety is apt 
to dominate the first three months of life. 

Depressive anxiety is a fear, not for oneself but for one's love- 
objects. It develops later than persecutory anxiety, which belongs 
to the earliest stage in which good and bad part-objects (breasts) 
are not recognized as belonging together. When the mother begins 
presently to be experienced as a whole person and the good and 
bad parts, aspects or phases of her dealing with the infant are 
brought together, an ambivalent relationship to the mother arises 
to replace the earlier 'splitting' of the object into unrelated good 
and bad objects. In the earher position the infant could feel desire 
towards the good object and terror towards the persecuting bad 
one, without these two reactions influencing each other. Now that 
love and hate can be felt towards one and the same changeable 
object, the anxiety arises that in hating one's object as bad one 
may destroy it as good. Depressive anxiety is, therefore, a patho- 
logical version of grief and mourning, and is particularly likely 
to be aroused in later life by the loss of emotionally important 
persons by parting or death. It is essentially a separation-anxiety 
accompanied by severe guilt. But depressive anxiety also involves 
direct danger to oneself, since, through identification with the love- 
object who is the victim of one's hate and aggression, one becomes 
involved in the fate of that object. This serves as a punishment for 
aggression by turning it against oneself internally. Thus depressive 
anxiety can take up persecutory anxiety into itself, or, from a 
different point of view, persecutory and depressive anxiety develop 
into persecutory and depressive guilt. 


Thus Mrs. Klein envisaged the early infantile anxiety-situations 
as comprising a whole series of events of the nature of active object- 
relationships repeatedly enacted and re-enacted in the phantasy 
and feeling life of the small child, both conscious and unconscious ; 
and as continuously lived through in a way that came to be more 
and more unrelated to the child's external world. His psychic life 
grows into a second and wholly internal world, the patterns of 
which come to be blindly imposed on external persons and situa- 
tions. The neurotic process consists of this interior life, while the 
therapeutic process consists of drawing the individual out of it and 
back into realistic contact with the outer world. We are thus intro- 
duced to a group of highly imix)rtant concepts : the internal 
object, the inner world, phantasy and psychic reahty. 

I. Psychic Reality 

We will begin the consideration of these concepts with that one 
which is most indisputably of Freud's own creation. Psychic 
Reality is one of his own most important ideas. The mind or 
psyche has a reality of its own, separate and distinct from the 
reality of the outer material world. It has its own permanencies, 
its own energies, and its own enduring and not easily alterable 
organization. The psyche has, one might almost say, a kind of 
solid substantiality of its own which we cannot alter at will, and 
which we have to begin by accepting and respecting. Thus, we 
cannot ourselves, by wishful thinking, become anything we would 
like to be, we cannot by an effort of will make ourselves feel 
differently from the ways in which we discover that we do feel. 
We do not choose what we shall feel, we simply discover that we 
are feeling that way, even if we have some choice in what we do 
about its expression. Our feelings are instantaneous, spK)ntaneous 
and at first unconscious reactions which reveal the psychic reality 
of our make-up. At any given moment we are what we are, and 
we can become different only by slow processes of growth. All this 
is equally true of other people who cannot, just because we wish 
it, suddenly become different from what they are. Psychic reality, 
the inner constitution and organization of each individual mind, is 
highly resistant to change, and goes its own way much less influ- 
enced by the outer world than we like to think. 

Our conscious mental operations do not convey the full force of 
this stubborn durability of psychic reality, since it is relatively easy 
to change our ideas, to alter our decisions, to vary our pursuits and 
interests, and so on ; but we can do all that without becoming very 
different basically as persons. Our mental life appears to be a 


freely adaptable instrument of our practical purposes in the outer 
material world, as no doubt it should be. The closer, however, we 
get to matters involving the hidden pressures of emotions, the more 
do we recognize the apparent intractability of psychic reahty. The 
infatuated man cannot subdue his infatuation, the person who 
worries cannot stop worrying, the hyper-conscientious person who 
works to death cannot relax, the man with an irrational hate 
cannot conquer his dislike, the sufferer from bad dreams cannot 
decide not to have them. This is conspicuously the case with 
neurotic persons, who manifest a marked helplessness towards their 
own psychic reality and emotional life. This Freudian concept of 
psychic reality becomes a much more striking and arresting one 
as a result of the work of Mrs. Klein. 

2. Internal Objects and Psychic Structure 

The theory of psychic structure evolved from Melanie Klein's 
clinical findings was to the effect that it consisted of phantasied or 
imaginary ego-object relationships which had become persistent, 
almost permanent, organizational features of the deeper psychic 
life. These 'internal object-relations" were only 'imaginary' from 
the point of view of external reality; they possessed 'psychic reality' 
to a very high degree, as becomes apparent when we try to change 
them. Mrs. Klein's descriptions of the 'internal object" gather force 
and clarity throughout her early papers and The Psycho- Analysis 
of Children, The distinction between the child's real external 
objects and its internal and phantasied versions of them forced 
itself on Mrs. Klein's notice. In 1926 she wrote concerning the 
patient Rita, who could not play with dolls with any pleasure at 
two and a half years and felt prohibited from being the doll's 
mother, that 

the prohibition ... no longer emanated from the real mother, but 
from an introjected mother, whose role she enacted for me in many 
ways and who exercised a harsher and more cruel influence upon 
her than her real mother had ever done. (1948, p. 144.) 

This difference between the external and the internal object, the 
outer real object and the inner, subjective image of it, was em- 
phasized again in 1927 in 'The Symposium on Child- Analysis' 
when Mrs. Klein wrote : 

The analysis of very young children has shown me that even a 
three-year-old child has left behind him the most important part of 
the development of his Oedipus complex. Consequently, he is already 
far removed, through repression and feelings of guilt, from the 


objects whom he originally desired. His relations to them have 
undergone distortion and transformation so that the present love- 
objects are now imagos of the original objects. (1948, p. 165.) 

This introjection of parents, which Mrs. Kldn regards as a kind 
of mental incorporation as a parallel to physical, oral incorpora- 
tion, with subsequent internal elaboration of the parent images 
into *imagos* differing widely from the real parents, takes place 
under the stress of aggression. This, Mrs. Klein thinks, is even as 
early as the oral stage largely the infant's reaction to the primal 
scene, the sexual union of parents from which the infant is ex- 
cluded and about which it invariably feels the most intense excite- 
ment and rage. This Oedipal development proceeds through the 
oral and anal phases to the genital phase so that the phantasied 
attacks on parents employ both oral and anal means. Mrs. Klein 
originally held that the Oedipus complex begins under the influ- 
ence of the phase of maximum sadism at about three to five 
months ; but she later came to feel that the depressive phase was 
the crucial one. In 1 948 she wrote concerning the early stages of 
the Oedipus complex : 

I still believe that these begin roughly in the middle of the first 
year. But since I no longer hold that at this period sadism is at its 
height, I place a different emphasis on the beginning of the emotional 
and sexual relation to both parents. Therefore, while I suggested . . . 
that the Oedipus complex starts under the influence of sadism and 
hatred, I would now say that the infant turns to the second object, 
the father, with feelings both of love and of hatred. I see in the 
depressive feelings derived from the fear of losing the loved mother — 
as an external and internal object — an important impetus towards 
early Oedipus desires. This means that I now correlate the early 
stages of the Oedipus complex with the depressive position. (1932, 
Preface to Third Ed., p. 13.) 

The following quotation shows how the internalization of objects 
and the formation of imagos under the influence of aggression 
leads to the development of an elaborate inner world embodying 
the infant's early anxiety-situations. 

The early infantile situation ... of fundamental importance [is] 
. . . the attack on the mother's body and on the father's penis in 
it. . . . Now what weapons does the child employ in this attack on his 
united parents? . . . the weapon which very little children have at 
their disposal : namely the device of soiling with excrement. [There 
are] other weapons of the child's primary sadism, which employs his 
teeth, nails, muscles and so on. . . . When the objects are introjected. 


the attack launched upon them with all the weapons of sadism rouses 
the subject's dread of an analogous attack upon himself from the 
external and the internalized objects. . . . Freud's hypothesis is that 
there is an infantile danger-situation which undergoes modification 
in the course of development, and which is the source of the influence 
exercised by a series of anxiety-situations. Now the new demand upon 
the analyst is this — that analysis should fully uncover these anxiety- 
situations right back to that which lies deepest of all . . . he says that 
a complete analysis must reveal the primal scene. This latter require- 
ment can have its full effect only in conjunction with that which I 
have just put forward. (1929, Infantile Anxiety-situations Reflected 
in a Work of Art, 1948, pp. 228-30.) 

Thus we see how a neurosis is conceived as a repressed inner world 
of internal object-relationships constituting anxiety- or danger- 
situations of both a persecutory and depressive order, in which 
the ego launches phantasied attacks by oral, anal and ultimately 
genital means on its parent-imagos, and fears retaliatory attacks in 
turn from them. 

The interaction between this internal world of psychic reality 
and the external world of material reality is of the highest im- 
portance. Mrs. Klein writes : 

As far as can be seen, there exists in the small child, side by side 
with its relations to real objects but on a different plane as it were, 
relations which are based on its relations to its unreal imagos both as 
excessively good and excessively bad figures. Ordinarily, these two 
kinds of object-relations intermingle and colour each other to an 
ever increasing extent. (i932,p.2i3.) 

[The child] attaches to its imaginary objects not only feelings of 
hatred and anxiety but positive feelings as well. In doing this it 
withdraws them from its real objects, and if its relations to its 
imaginary objects are too powerful, both in a negative and a positive 
sense, it cannot adequately attach either its sadistic phantasies or its 
restitutive ones to its real objects, with the result that it undergoes 
disturbance of its adaptation to reality and of its object-relationships. 
(1932, p. 192, note.) 

The full significance of the child's development along these lines 
is seen in one further passage of Mrs. Klein. 

In those cases in which the significance of reality and real objects 
as reflections of the dreaded internal world and imagos has retained 
its preponderance, the stimuli from the external world may be felt to 
be nearly as alarming as the phantasied domination of the in- 


ternalized objects, which have taken possession of all initiative and 
to whom the ego feels compulsively bound to surrender the execution 
of all activities and intellectual operations. (1948, p. 263.) 

Thus Mrs. Klein outlines the development of the infantile mind 
in the first few years as the creation of a phantastic and intensely 
emotional internal world of bad, aggressive, destructive ego-object 
relations, counteracted by an equally phantastic inner world of 
ideally good-object relations, both more and more removed from 
realistic relationship with outer reality, yet increasingly influenc- 
ing the child's and finally the adult's perception of outer reality, 
and hence behaviour towards it. This is the essence of neurosis, 
and also the content of psychic structure. Her work leads to a 
theory of living in two worlds at the same time, an inner mental 
world which forms the structure of the psychic personality and is 
revealed functionally in phantasy of all types, and an outer 
material world : there are ego-object relationships in both these 
worlds and also interaction between them. 

Neurosis is seen to be not merely a phenomenon of disturbed 
emotions. If it were, it could be relieved simply by abreaction as 
was at first hoped. It is a phenomenon of pathological personality- 
structuring. The neurosis is the way the personality has grown, 
organizationally, and this is what we see made conscious in phan- 
tasy. Only in this light can we understand why neurosis is so hard 
to cure. Absolute cure would involve radical re-growing of the 
total personality structure, if such a thing be possible. 

3. Phantasy 

Psychic Reality, and its structuring in terms of internal objects 
and internal object-relations, is made manifest in Phantasy, of 
which day and night dreams and the play of children are the most 
clinically relevant examples. With these, however, we must link 
other forms of phantasy, the myths and legends of primitive 
peoples, folk-lore, and the imaginative creations of literature and 
art in all ages which together constitute a continuous revelation 
of the phantasy-life of the human race, and throw tremendous 
light on the workings of the Unconscious. All these taken together 
display an inventive, creative, imaginative activity of the human 
mind which is not, like science, concerned with the accurate por- 
trayal of the outer material world by intellectual activity, but 
rather with an expression, every bit as accurate, of the inner 
mental world, the world of emotional events which forms the 
inner hard core of personality-functioning. The prosaic mind may 
dismiss all that as 'mere imagination' or as 'fantasy' or even as 


'fantastic nonsense' and — to come back to our starting-point — 
dreams. The practical mind is apt to contrast 'hard facts' like 
money and guns with the 'useless' products of the imagination, 
'such stuff as dreams are made of. The dreamy person with his 
head in the clouds is despised. It is true the dreamer is orientated 
inwards rather than outwards and may become disorientated in 
outer reahty, at a loss and useless in practical affairs. But the so- 
called hard-headed, practical man is usually just as helpless in face 
of emotional realities. His evaluation of the products of emotion 
involves a two-fold error. He believes that he is free from phan- 
tasies and dreams, whereas he is only unconscious of what goes on 
in his inner world and is phantasy-ridden without knowing it. 
This is usually discernible at least in such forms as confident 
prejudice and narcissistic self-evaluation. Further, he believes 
dreams and phantasies can be contrasted with hard facts as unreal, 
and dismissed as of no importance. But these same products of 
imagination are themselves 'hard facts' in a psychological sense, of 
a peculiarly inescapable kind, having 'psychic reality'. 

In this scientific age men continue as much as ever to produce 
their phantasies, often, it is true, disguised as poHtical ideologies 
and even as scientific theories, but also as religious, artistic and 
literary symbolism, and tale-telling — that immemorial, perennial 
interest of human beings. Men continue to dream and day-dream, 
and those who find day-dreaming has a strong hold on them are 
not seldom frightened by their inability to stop it. In fact, this 
world of the imagination, which we cannot either eliminate or 
suppress, is the eruption of precisely that 'psychic reality' which 
Freud and Melanie Klein have so stressed, a psychological 'hard 
fact' which we are obliged to take into account. When it develops, 
as sometimes happens, to the full force of the disintegrating and 
even homicidal delusions of the insane we can no longer under- 
estimate its p>ower. 

Psycho-analysis has, especially in the work of Melanie Klein, 
singled out the phantasy life in such a way as to recognize its 
special status. As Susan Isaacs put it : 

The psycho-analytical term 'phantasy' [spelt with a 'ph' and used 
as a technical term : present writer's note] essentially connotes uncon- 
scious mental content. . . . Psycho-analysis has shown that the quality 
3f being 'merely' or 'only' imagined is not the most important 
:riterion for the understanding of the human mind. When and under 
»vhat conditions 'psychical reality' is in harmony with external 
reality is one special part of the total problem of understanding 
nental life as a whole. . . . Freud's discovery of dynamic psychical 


reality initiated a new epoch of psychological understanding. He 
showed that the inner world of the mind has a continuous living 
reality of its own, with its own dynamic laws and characteristics, 
different from those of the external world. In order to understand 
the dream and the dreamer, his psychological history, his neurotic 
symptoms or his normal interest and character, we have to give up 
that prejudice in favour of external reality, and of our conscious 
orientations to it, that undervaluation of internal reality, which is 
the attitude of the ego in ordinary civilized life to-day. ... A further 
point of importance ... is that unconscious phantasy is fully active in 
the normal, no less than in the neurotic mind. . . . The difference 
between normal and abnormal lies in the way in which the uncon- 
scious phantasies are dealt with, the particular mental processes by 
which they are worked over and modified; and the degree of direct 
or indirect gratification in the real world and adaptation to it, which 
these favoured mechanisms allow. (1952, pp. 81-2.) 

To sum up in Isaacs' words : 'Phantasies are the primary content 
of unconscious mental processes.' {Op. cit., p. 82.) The term 'un- 
conscious phantasy' may be thought to raise problems. It is cer- 
tainly true that feeling can be active but unconscious, as, for 
example, when it is discharged in the form of a physical symptom. 
Patients frequently say : T didn't know I felt so angry when I 
came in.' But can phantasy be unconscious? The complex emo- 
tional state which would find expression, if it is expressed, in con- 
sciousness in a specific phantasy can be unconscious, but it would 
seem that phantasy is the form in which we express unconscious 
emotion when it becomes conscious. Phantasy is a psychic struc- 
ture in action in consciousness, a conscious expression of the fact 
that our deep-down complex emotional and impulsive activity at 
the moment is the same as it would be if in outer reality we were 
having a relationship of a certain kind with a person of a certain 
kind, as imagined in the phantasy. This can be expressed only 
by a 'story' either 'seen' in the mind's eye, i.e. hallucinated, as in 
a dream, or consciously thought through as in day-dreaming. It is 
always a story of some form of ego-object relations in which the 
'object' is imagined, and is in fact an 'internal object' in the sense 
already made clear. It seems preferable to say, then, that the 
primary content of the unconscious mental processes is an emo- 
tionally active psychic structure, and that phantasy is its emergence 
into consciousness. 


4. The Inner World 

If we consider a novel, say Wuthering Heights, an elaborate 
phantasy which has been given Hterary form and an existence inde- 
pendent of its creator, we see at once that a phantasy is a world 
inhabited by persons and its action consists in their relationships 
to one another. Such places as Wuthering Heights and such per- 
sons as Heathcliffe and Cathy and the other characters of the story 
have a tremendous vitality of their own, and make a powerful and 
living impact on us. If, now, we consider a phantasy in an unso- 
phisticated form, in its immediate mental form as we see it in a 
disturbing dream that wakes us up while its action is still in 
progress in our minds, we recognize these same characteristics. The 
dream as we perceive and experience it is, so to speak, a place, and 
it is a number of people or animals or other figures in active rela- 
tionships. So real is all this that the half-awake dreamer starts up 
and looks about the room expecting to see the sinister figure who 
frightened him in his dream. The dream, at the moment of dream- 
ing, has hallucinatory vividness and reahty, though its reality lies 
in the fact that we are experiencing it as our own personality 
make-up in action, and not in its having outer material reality. 

Freud considered, and psycho-analysts of all types agree, that 
hallucination is the earliest infantile form of mental experience 
and activity in response to delay in the satisfaction of needs, so 
that the world of the dream, unlike our conscious intellectual pro- 
cesses, goes back to the very beginnings of the dreamer's individual 
life. This dream-world apparently has access to the stored 
memories and information of a lifetime, and things beyond con- 
scious recall can reappear in dreams, and emotional states and 
experiences of earliest infancy beyond conscious revival in the 
ordinary way can be re-Hved in dreams. The inner world of 'un- 
conscious' phantasy into which dreams give us a peep, is the world 
of the past, just as our conscious and waking mental life of percep- 
tion and reasoning is the world of the present. 

But this unconscious psychically real and powerful inner world 
is the past as we emotionally experienced it perpetuated as an 
ever-active and persistent internal present. Past aspects of our 
'self and our past objects of impulse and feeling live on inside us 
as a repressed unconscious present. To express it differently, the 
object-relationship situations of past years back to infancy, in 
which we were bound together with the important persons who 
were the chief objects of our needs and desires, loves and angers, 
have entered into our mental make-up, albeit elaborated and dis- 
torted by our own emotions as to the mental im2iges we formed of 


them. They are preserved within us as dynamic parts of the hidden 
structure of our personality. They are endowed with psychic reality 
and in that sense continue to exist long after the original real 
figures have materially ceased to be, as in vivid dreams of long 
dead parents. 

We live in these two worlds at the same time, one mental and 
the other material, the one a perpetuation of the past and the 
other an exploration of the present, and we are involved in both 
of them in situations and relationships which rouse in us excite- 
ments, emotions and impulses of all kinds. It is impossible to keep 
the two worlds of outer and inner reality, of conscious and uncon- 
scious mental life, entirely separate. They interact and overlap in 
everything we do. If, however, the overlapping of outer by inner 
reality is too crude and uncontrolled, our perceptions of the outer 
world become badly distorted ; and therefore our reactions to it 
become falsified in disturbing and even dangerous ways. This 
happens in neurosis and still more in psychosis. Events in the outer 
world play upon, stir up and draw upon themselves projections of 
the phantasied events and situations that form parts and aspects 
of our inner world — often to our own and other people's exceeding 
discomfiture. Melanie Klein writes : 

The young child's perception of external reality and external 
objects is perpetually influenced and coloured by his phantasies, and 
this in some measure continues throughout life. External experiences 
which arouse anxiety at once activate even in normal persons anxiety 
derived from intrapsychic sources. The interaction between objective 
anxiety and neurotic anxiety — or, to express it in other words, the 
interaction between anxiety arising from external and from internal 
sources — corresponds to the interaction between external and psychic 
reality. (1952, pp. 289-90.) 

The figures with whom we have relationships in our phantasies 
are called appropriately, by Melanie Klein, 'internal objects' be- 
cause we behave with respect to them, emotionally and impul- 
sively, in the same ways as we do towards externally real persons, 
though in more violent degrees of intensity than would be socially 
permissible. The formation of this inner world of internal objects 
and situations proceeds from the very beginnings of life. Its basic 
figures or 'inhabitants' date from so early a time as before the 
baby could grasp in perception the wholeness of its parents as 
persons. We must presume that at first all the baby knows or ex- 
periences is a breast (a 'part-object') and that it takes time and 
development for the baby to become aware of the mother in her 
completeness (a 'whole-object'). 


Accordingly we find the dream and hallucinatory experiences 
of adult patients 'peopled' not only with completely personal 
figures, but also with 'part-objects' in the form of detached breasts, 
penises or bodily parts, or their symbolic representations in the 
form of animals or inanimate objects. Thus one patient, as she was 
dropping off to sleep, would start wide awake as a result of the 
frightening experience of seeing an unattached penis coming at 
her. During her analysis she learned to drive a motor-car and then 
for a time she would see, instead of a penis, a motor-car rushing 
at her as she dozed off. That it represented the penis, however, was 
clear from the fact that in the act of starting awake she would find 
that she was clutching her vagina to protect herself. Several times 
in dreams the penis was represented by a snake or a rat on the bed, 
while one male patient saw himself in a dream attacked by a penis 
on which the glans had a rat's mouth and eyes. Here we see a 
series of graduated representations from the penis, through the 
penis-rat, the rat and snake, to the inanimate motor-car. A further 
series is indicated by the dream of yet another patient, who saw a 
breast with a penis instead of a nipple and on another occasion 
dreamed of a breast with a snake for a nipple. The resolution of 
a penis into a breast pure and simple as the part-object correspond- 
ing to the infant's earliest experience always occurs ultimately in 
any analysis that goes at all deep. It should be added that the so- 
caUed 'part-object' is not a part-object to the infant but a whole- 
object. It is only from the adult observer's point of view that we 
recognize that the infant's first object is only a part of the whole 

As the infant's experience expands to the taking in of the whole 
of his mother, he does not necessarily lose his earlier partial mental 
representations of her. They lie under increasing repression, and in 
the unconscious at a later stage part-objects and whole-objects 
both exist in a psychically active way. Moreover, the whole-objects 
become more and more complex. Phantasied persons in the inner 
world, representing at bottom aspects of parents, become compli- 
cated by the addition of aspects of other early and later experi- 
enced significant persons. These internal 'parental' figures are not, 
of course, exact and truthful copies of the real parents. They repre- 
sent dissociated aspects of parents and others seen through the 
medium of the baby's emotional experience of them. They are 
doubly falsified in that they are both partial, and also distorted by 
the baby's own feelings. An internal image of an angry parent has 
no redeeming features as the real parent had, and also it is built 
up in the baby's mind by his own emotional tensions into a monster 
or devil. One patient, in a nightmare, saw his mother's face, at first 


in its ordinary aspect, and then gradually growing redder, angrier, 
larger, more and more threatening, till it seemed to fill his world 
and overwhelm him in a volcanic eruption of accusing rage out of 
which shot the words : 'What have you done ?' He woke with 
violent palpitation and profuse perspiration. In fact his mother 
was a much-enduring woman who worked hard to help him get 
an education while her husband was in a mental hospital. Yet the 
dream represented an intensification of one aspect of his actual 
exp>erience of her. 

This inner world is for the most part a world of terrors. Its 
objects are built up, according to Melanie Klein, by projection and 
introjection. The baby, faced with an angry or unloving mother 
and a frustrating breast, projects his own anger on to the mother, 
and then introjects her, takes her in mentally, endowed with his 
own aggression as well as hers. Another way of putting this is to 
say that our expectations of other people's behaviour to us is gready 
influenced by our fear that they will retaliate for the aggression we 
feel against them : and it is in this light that the infant internalizes 
parents. The unconscious inner world is peopled, at deep mental 
levels, by frightful persecutors who are exaggerated out of all 
realistic proportions into monsters, devils, sinister figures and wild 
beasts of the most violent kind, such as terrify us in nightmares and 
have been enshrined in myth and folk-lore from earliest times. All 
personal and sexual relationships in this deep unconscious inner 
world are of a sado-masochistic character. Even when our emo- 
tional reactions are evoked by events in our outer present-day 
world, the tone and intensity of the emotion is, to a far greater 
extent than is generally known, determined by our reactions to 
these 'bad' figures in the unconscious. This is why very emotional 
people so often behave unrealistically. 

We are now in a position to see where the endopsychic persecu- 
tory and depressive anxieties come from. Violent attack and 
counter-attack, suffering and turning the tables, goes on between 
the infantile ego and its internal bad objects. When the ego feels 
itself to be attacked in its phantasies, it feels persecutory anxiety. 
When it succeeds in a phantasied turning of the tables, then it 
rapidly b^ins to appear that the objects destroyed are much- 
needed parents and love-objects, and depressive anxiety super- 
venes. In actual details, in the imaginative phantasying of these 
violent scenes, all the biological possibilities open to the infant are 
made use of. Phantasies of tearing in pieces, sucking out, biting, 
eating, swallowing and devouring belong to the earliest oral level. 
A little later phantasies of destroying by urination and defecation 
occur, and later still sadistic versions of genital sexual destructive- 


ness develop. These phantasies express what Melanie IClein calls 
the 'early anxiety-situations' of the infant. Thus one patient, a 
young married woman who had been exceptionally severely neg- 
lected by her mother as a child, became afraid of a sudden im- 
pulse to strangle me, remembered she had always felt hungry as 
a child, and reported a dream in which a slimy black lizard came 
at her to eat her. She then went back to an incident of very early 
life which she had previously reported, namely an occasion when 
she had defecated in her cot and jumped out of it and run down- 
stairs. She now added further details, that she had looked at the 
black bits of excreta in the bed and suddenly felt they were alive 
and would eat her, and she climbed out of the cot in fear. Clearly 
the excreta represented to her bad internal objects that would 
retaliate on her, the terrifying internalized breast that would eat 
her because she wanted hungrily to eat it. This patient, who had 
never heard of Melanie Klein or of oral sadism, herself remarked : 
T wanted to eat everything as a child. I expect I wanted to eat 
my mother.' 

An important aspect of Mrs. Klein's views is that not only is 
anxiety always at bottom due to unconscious phantasied aggres- 
sive and destructive relationships, but also that anxiety and guilt 
over internal and external aggression is counteracted by reparative 
phantasies and activities. Injured love-objects must be restorea 
and made whole again if the personality is to be at peace. This 
simplified version of Melanie Klein's teaching aims simply at 
bringing out its salient features. An internal object is an imago, a 
mental image of a particularly fundamental kind, which defined 
psycho-analytically is an unconscious psychic image of a person 
or part of a person as if the object had been taken into the mind, 
developed within the inner mental world, repressed and elaborated 
from infancy onwards, and heavily loaded with emotion. As Susan 
Isaacs says : 

Such images draw their power to affect the mind by being 'in it', 
i.e. their influence upon feelings, behaviour, character and person- 
ality, upon the mind as a whole, from their repressed unconscious 
somatic associates in the unconscious world of desire and emotions . . . 
and which do mean, in unconscious phantasy, that the objects to 
which they refer are believed to be inside the body, to be incor- 
porated. (1952, pp. 105-6.) 

Commenting upon Melanie Klein's work, Fairbaim writes : 

On the basis of the resulting concept of internal objects there has 
been developed the concept of a world of inner reality involving 


situations and relationships in which the ego participates together 
with its internal objects. These situations and relationships are 
comparable with those in which the personality as a whole par- 
ticipates in a world of outer reality, but the form which they assume 
remains that conferred upon them by the child's experience of situa- 
tions and relationships in the earliest years of life. It should be added 
that the world of inner reality is conceived as essentially unconscious; 
but this does not preclude its manifesting itself in consciousness in 
the form of dreams and phantasies. Morbid anxiety, irrational fears 
and psychopathological symptoms of every kind are also conceived 
as having their source in the unconscious world of inner reality. 
Indeed, it follows that human behaviour in general must be pro- 
foundly influenced by situations prevailing in the inner world. The 
fact is that, once the conception of inner reality has been accepted, 
every individual must be regarded as living in two worlds at the same 
time — the world of outer reality and the world of inner reality; and, 
whilst life in outer reality is characteristically conscious, and life in 
inner reality is characteristically unconscious, it will be realized that 
Freud's original distinction between the conscious and the uncon- 
scious now becomes less important than the distinction between the 
two worlds of outer reality and inner reality. (1952, p. 124.) 

The only disputable aspect of Mrs. Klein's clinically based account 
of the Inner World is that it owes more to the projection and re- 
introjection of innate sadism than to external bad handling of the 

5. The Super-Ego and the Internal Object World 

We have seen how the development of ego-analysis steadily 
brought to Ught the complexity of the super-^o. Freud introduced 
the concept at first as a development from that of an ego-ideal, 
and spoke of the super-ego as a differentiating grade within the 
ego. Gradually the super-ego, standing as it were over the ego with 
often terrifying authority, came to take on the aspect of an internal 
object, the representative of the parents within the psyche. Freud 
recognized both paternal and maternal components in the super- 
ego. Its complexity was further apparent in the difTerence between 
its early sadistic forms and its later ego-ideal character, a com- 
plexity that could not be properly conceptualized in terms of 
Freud's id-ego-super-ego scheme. 

The work of Melanie Klein from the start bore directly on 
super-ego analysis. 

She carried back the Oedipus complex, and with it the early 
stages of super-ego formation to the period from six months on 


into the second year, whereas for Freud the super-ego was 'the heir 
to the Oedipus complex' and came into being only after the 
Oedipus conflict had been overcome at about the fifth year. It 
became apparent that her early super-ego was identical with the 
extremely sadistic super-ego and could hardly be called an 'ego- 
ideal' in any sense of the term that implied genuine moral values. 
It was a phenomenon of feiaCa^^^giession^nd hate in which the 
infantile ego suffered acute persecutory anxiefy^in relation to its 
internalized bad objects. The super-ego had now become, as a 
result of Mrs. Klein's work, a blanket-term covering the com- 
plexity of the whole endopsychic world of internalized objects, for 
the world of inner reality as Mrs. Klein presents it is a scene in 
which the ego seeks the aid of good objects in its struggle with its 
persecuting bad figures. We must now regard the super-ego as 
standing for the whole complex process whereby the pristine ego 
undergoes the beginnings of structural differentiation under pres- 
sure of the external environment. The resulting psychic develop- 
ment has two aspects which Freudian and even Kleinian termin- 
ology do not yet enable us to conceptualize clearly. An 'internal 
environment' is created in which the ego feels to be living under 
the shadow of powerful parental figures who are cruel persecutors 
at the deepest mental levels but steadily take on the aspect of ruth- 
less punishers and guilt-inducers in later stages of development. 
But at the same time this complex structural differentiation in- 
cludes a function of self-persecution and self -punishment in which 
the ego identifies with its internal enemies. One may say that the 
bad objects who arouse our rage in outer reality then become 
necessary to us to enforce control on our impulses; we can then 
forestall their punishment-cum-persecution by taking over their 
repressive functions ourselves. This entire process is duplicated in 
inner reality. If, for the moment, we exclude this function of self- 
judgment which is properly called 'conscience', whether primitive 
or matured, we may then say that the super-ego covers the whole 
world of internal objects, good and bad. 

It is thus clear that for Mrs. Klein the super-ego covers a con- 
fusing multiplicity of good and bad internal objects, persecutors 
and pseudo-, semi- and fully-moral figures, some inducing terror 
and some inducing guilt (i.e. fear of death or of castration on the 
one hand, and fear of punishment and disapproval on the other). 
Her work is thus a challenge to still closer analysis. This com- 
plexity is plainly set forth by her. 

I believe that . . . early phobias contain anxiety arising in the early 
stages of the formation of the super-ego. The earliest anxiety-situa- 


tions of the child appear round about the middle of the first year of 
its life and are brought on by an increase of sadism. They consist of 
fears of violent (i.e. devouring, cutting, castrating) objects, both 
external and introjected; and such fears cannot be modified in an 
adequate degree at such an early age. 

The difficulties small children often have in eating are also closely 
connected, according to my experience, with their earliest anxiety- 
situations and invariably have paranoid origins. In the cannibalistic 
phase children equate every kind of food with their objects, as repre- 
sented by their organs, so that it takes on the significance of their 
father's penis and their mother's breast and is loved, hated and 
feared like these. Liquid foods are likened to milk, faeces, urine and 
semen, and solid foods to faeces and other substances of the body. 
Thus food is able to give rise to all those fears of being poisoned and 
destroyed inside which children feel in relation to their internalized 
objects and excrements if their early anxiety-situations are strongly 

Infantile animal phobias are an expression of early anxiety of this 
kind. They are based on that ejection of the terrifying super-ego 
which is characteristic of the earlier anal stage . . . the displacement 
on to an animal of the fear felt of the real father. . . . The fact that 
the anxiety-animal not only attracts to itself the child's fear of its 
father but also its admiration of him is a sign that the process of 
ideal-formation is taking place. Animal phobias are already a far- 
reaching modification of the fear of the super-ego; and we see here 
what a close connection there is between super-ego, object relation- 
ship and animal phobias. (1932, pp. 219-21.) 

We will pass over here the problem of Mrs. Klein's somewhat loose 
use of terms, to which Edward Glover takes strong objection (as 
exemplified in the phrase 'ejection of the super-ego' which taken 
literally is impossible), and note that in this passage the theory of 
the super-ego has taken up into itself the whole range of pheno- 
mena now called 'fear of internal objects' and also needs felt 
towards them, as manifested in food and animal phobias and 
ideal-formation, i.e. all the child's exf>eriences of reaction to the 
object- world as duplicated internally in its mental organization. 
One fact needs to be stressed if a somewhat crude approxima- 
tion to the idea of devil-possession is to be avoided, though in fact 
the traditional idea of devil-possession was a non-scientific recog- 
nition of the phenomena of 'internal objects'. Though these in- 
ternal psychic objects apj>ear to us in dreams and are experienced 
by us as if they were independent entities owning their own aggres- 
sion and expressing their own hostility against us, they are in 


reality structxiral parts of our own psyche. The anger that animates 
these dramatis personae on the stage of our internal psychically 
real world is, and can only be, our own anger. They are the ex- 
pression of the internal processes by which a human being can 
turn against himself the anger that really he feels against those who 
frustrate him. It is our own disturbed emotion that both constitutes 
and perpetuates this persecutory inner world. A vicious circle is 
set up by which anger is aroused by our bad objects, we turn it 
on to our self, thus arousing in our 'self still greater anger, in the 
light of which our original bad objects appear even more bad, 
and so on. One patient who was addicted to violent hitting of her 
own body used to say : 'When anyone makes me angry someone 
has got to be hit, and it had better be me.' By this means, both 
physically and mentally, her rage against her factually bad mother 
was expended in self -persecution. She could alternate quickly 
between feeling identified with the persecuting, punishing mother 
in rage against herself and all girl children, and having anxiety- 
attacks which corresponded to dreams of her bad mother coming 
to murder her. 

Mrs. Klein's work takes us deep into the problems of early 
structural development and, just as Freud's work paved the way 
for her investigations, so her work urgently called for further 
theoretical clarification of the problems of endopsychic structure. 

Chapter XII 




I. The Depressive and the Paranoid-Schizoid Positions 

Melanie Klein's work on the early years of childhood 
led, not only to a theory of psychical structure based on the con- 
cept of the 'internal object', but also to new clinical concepts of 
early infantile development. Abraham's important paper on the 
'Theory of Libido Development' in 1924, the year Mrs. Klein 
began her analysis with him, no doubt represents her position at 
that date. It was the theory of a psyche at first objectless and auto- 
erotic, which developed through oral, anal, phallic and genital 
phases ; these determined its object-relationships, as its originally 
auto-erotic and narcissistic libido and aggression became extra- 
verted. Fixations at these stages accounted for the various psy- 
choses and neuroses. The early oral fixation gave rise to schizo- 
phrenia, the late oral fixation led to depressive psychosis, the early 
anal to paranoia, the late anal to obsessional neurosis and the 
phallic to hysteria. 

In 1934 Melanie Klein read a paper entitled 'A Contribution 
to the Psychogenesis of Manic-Depressive States'. (1948, p. 282.) 
E. Glover regards that as marking a 'second phase' in her views, 
and quotes her statement that in her opinion 'the infantile depres- 
sive position is the central position of the child's development'. He 
comments : 'The publication of this paper marked the commence- 
ment of an entirely new orientation in psycho-analysis in a section 
of the British Society. The trend of discussions at subsequent meet- 
ings and the content of various papers soon indicated that a school 
of thought was developing based exclusively on a new hypothesis 
of development. Thus . . . Joan Riviere ... in a subsequent paper 
on "The Genesis of Psychical Conflict in Earliest Infancy" . . . 
endeavoured to establish a systematic metapsychological basis for 
the new views. Clinically, the most significant point in this paper 


was contained in a footnote where she committed herself to the 
explicit statement. "We have reason to think since Melanie Klein's 
latest work on depressive states that all neuroses are different 
varieties of defence against this fundamental anxiety, each em- 
bodying mechanisms which become increasingly available to the 
organism as its development proceeds."' (E. Glover, 1945.) He 
compares this with 'Rank's deviation'. 'Instead of Rank's birth 
trauma, we have offered us a "love trauma" of the third month, 
which, it is maintained, is as fateful for subsequent development 
as Rank thought the birth trauma to be. ... In my considered 
opinion the concept of a three-months-old love-trauma due to the 
infant's imagined greedy destruction of a real loving mother whom 
it really loves is merely a matriarchal variant of the doctrine of 
Original Sin.' {Op. cit., p. 43.) 

In the judgment of the present writer the clinical evidence is 
against Glover's adverse opinion. It is not pKDSsible to analyse any 
neurosis deeply without finding that as its symptoms and defensive 
character traits are worked through, one comes upon intense fear 
of oral sadistic needs, and both anxiety and guilt over the phan- 
tasied loss of love-objects. If at that stage actual harm befalls a 
loved person in real life, serious depression is the usual result, 
while, as Fairbaim points out, the schizoid person is so afraid of 
love-impulses as destructive that he dare not love at all. One 
patient of mine who showed a marked liability to produce paranoid 
reactions as a defence against repressed guilt and depression, had 
the following dream : 'Mother and I and others were in a room 
and we knew that downstairs was a horrible monster that we were 
barricading against. Then mother went down and presently I 
knew she was dead, and I saw the monster and it was all made of 
teeth.' Soon after this dream in which she was dissociating herself 
from her oral sadistic need of her mother, a greatly loved friend 
was discovered to be dying of a hidden disease. He had recently 
given her valuable comfort and she began to feel that he was dying 
because she had drained away his Ufe. She turned with an intense 
sense of need to me and rapidly began to become very solicitous 
for my health and safety, a reaction mixed with a growing convic- 
tion on her part that I was pressing analysis in a way that hurt her 
and made her worse and she could not carry on. Then the feeling 
of intense anger emerged against her friend because he was dying 
and leaving her. At the point where she could not face any more 
her intense repressed guilt over her oral sadistic needs towards both 
of us, she took refuge in the paranoid defence of the conviction 
that we were bad objects to her and that her anger was justified. 
Here in a nutshell are both of the main points of Mrs. Klein's view 


that Glover so criticizes : guilt and depression over a love-trauma 
created by the patient's 'imagined greedy destruction of a real 
loving mother' and a resort to a paranoid technique as a defence 
against this 'fundamental anxiety'. (Riviere.) 

If Melanie Klein is to be charged with having produced a 
doctrine of Original Sin, it could only be on the ground that she 
persists in regarding the infant's sadism as innate by treating it as 
a manifestation of Freud's death instinct. It is Freud, not Mrs. 
IClein, who gives us a doctrine of Original Sin. If, on the other 
hand, she had stressed more clearly what is in fact the real out- 
come of her work — namely that sadism and neurotic aggression 
are post-natal phenomena in reaction to inadequate and unsatis- 
fying mothering, felt by the infant as real frustration of the need 
for either or both food and tenderness — Glover's criticism would 
clearly be pointless. As for her views constituting a new and 
deviating metapsychology, the only thing that could interest us 
scientifically is whether they are clinically justified. It was already 
orthodox psycho-analysis to hold that the psychoses were develop- 
ments of the oral level, while psychoneuroses were phenomena of 
the post-oral phases of development. It does not in fact seem to be 
a deviation but a further development of this theory if it be now 
discovered that the later developed psychoneuroses are defences 
against the more serious dangers of the earlier psychotic con- 
ditions. Fairbaim adopted Mrs. Klein's view on this point. 

Presumably, Glover's criticism, in so far as it is based on purely 
theoretical grounds, rests on the fact that Freud r^arded the 
Oedipus complex of the third to fifth year as the 'central position' 
in the child's development and held also that the infantile psyche 
in the earliest phase was objectless and autoerotic. But clinical 
phenomena forced Mrs. Klein to recognize the conflicts typical of 
the Oedipal phase at a far earlier age than three to five years. 
This of itself undermined the hitherto accepted view that the 
infant psyche was to begin with objectless and autoerotic, for the 
depressive phenomena which, she believed, arose as early as the 
infant's first developing perception of mother as a 'whole-object' 
in the early months of life are object-relations phenomena. Hun- 
garian analysts in the Ferenczi tradition (Alice Balint as early as 
1933, Peto and M. Balint 1937, Int. J. Psych. An. Vol. XXX, 
Pt. 4, 1 949) were discarding Freud's view that the earliest stages 
of psychic life were objecdess. This is one of the points at which 
Freud's own views most needed correction. Mrs. Klein and her 
co-workers in child-analysis realized that the infant is object- 
related to the mother's breast from the beginning, and that during 
the first year of life his development proceeds in the setting of 


external object-relationships of the Oedipal situation, duplicated 
within by the creation of internal objects and the early anxiety- 
situations arising from internal object-relations. As a result, the 
two kinds of anxiety come into being, persecutory anxieties and 
depressive anxieties. The persecutory anxieties she regards as 
paranoid and as the basis of all phobias of menace and danger to 
the ego from its bad objects. In her paper 'Notes on Some Schizoid 
Mechanisms' (1952, pp. 292-320) she wrote in a footnote on page 
293. 'When this paper was first published in 1946, 1 was using my 
term "paranoid position" synonymously with W. R. D. Fair- 
bairn's "schizoid position".' [i.e. for this 'persecutory phase' of the 
first few months. Present writer's note.] 'On further deliberation I 
decided to combine Fairbairn's term with mine and throughout 
the present book I am using the expression "paranoid-schizoid 
position".' This 'position' she held to precede the 'depressive posi- 
tion', in which the infant becomes anxious on behalf of its love- 
objects and not merely for itself, and guilt arises. Mrs. Klein 
writes : 

If persecutory fears are very strong, and for this reason (among 
others) the infant cannot work through the paranoid-schizoid posi- 
tion, the working through the depressive position is in turn impeded. 
This failure may lead to a regressive reinforcing of persecutory fears 
and strengthen the fixation points for severe psychoses (that is to say, 
the group of schizophrenias). . . . While I assumed that the outcome 
of the depressive position depends on the working through of the 
preceding phase, I nevertheless attributed to the depressive position 
a central role in the child's early development. For with the intro- 
jection of the object as a whole the infant's' object-relation alters 
fundamentally. The synthesis between the loved and hated aspects 
of the complete object gives rise to feelings of mourning and guilt 
which imply vital advances in the infants emotional and intellectual 
life. This is also a crucial juncture for the choice of neurosis or 
psychosis. To all those conclusions I still adhere. (1952, p. 294.) 

Thus Mrs. Klein regards these psychotic persecutory and depres- 
sive anxieties as originating in early infancy, while the psycho- 
neuroses of the post-oral phases constitute defensive struggles to 
master these deeper disturbances. In this same paper she writes 
explicitly : 

I have often expressed my view that object-relations exist from 
the beginning of life, the first object being the mother's breast which 
to the child becomes split into a good (gratifying) and bad (frustrat- 
ing) breast; this splitting results in a severance of love and hate. 
{Ibid., p. 293.) 


As a result of this the view grew among Kleinian writers that the 
ego itself was a whole entity from the beginning, and was not to 
be regarded as growing together piecemeal by the synthesis of 
*ego-nuclei' (E. Glover) or other components. In spite of the fact, 
however, that her work led away from the more usual Freudian 
conceptions of an atomistic development, it is a logical develop- 
ment along the main line of Freud's own interest. His super-ego 
theory marked a change of direction in his interest away from 
Hysteria where he began, and towards Obsessional neurosis and 
Depression and the part played by aggression and guilt in these 
conditions. The direction in which Freud's own views changed 
from 1920 onwards really implies Mrs. Klein's conclusion that it 
is the depressive position that is central for development. This con- 
clusion is certainly in a line of continuous development from her 
earlier work on aggression and sadism, and her analysis of the 
super-ego in terms of internal persecutory and depressive object-re- 
lations. Her paper on manic-depression in 1934 was the culmina- 
tion of a development of interest beyond psychoneurosis to 
psychosis and criminality which can be traced from at least 1929, 
where her earliest written reference to child-psychosis occurs in the 
pap>er on 'Personification in the Play of Children'. (1948, p. 223.) 
In 1948 Mrs. Klein summarized this development in the Preface 
to the Third Edition of The Psycho-Analysis of Children. 

In the years that have elapsed since this book first appeared, I 
have arrived at further conclusions — mainly relating to the first year 
of infancy — and these have led to an elaboration of certain essential 
hypotheses here presented. . . . The hypotheses I have in mind are as 
follows : In the first few months of life infants pass through states of 
persecutory anxiety which are bound up with the "phase of maximal 
sadism" ; the young infant also experiences feelings of guilt about his 
destructive impulses and phantasies which are directed against his 
primary object — his mother, first of all her breast. These feelings of 
guilt give rise to the tendency to make reparation to the injured 

In endeavouring to fill in the picture of this period in greater 
detail, I found that certain shifts of emphasis and time relations 
were inevitable. Thus I have come to differentiate between two main 
phases in the first six to eight months of life, and I describe them as 
the 'paranoid position' and the 'depressive position'. (The term 
'position' was chosen because — though the phenomena involved 
occur in the first place during early stages of development — they are 
not confined to these stages but represent specific groupings of 


anxieties and defences which appear and reappear during the first 
years of childhood.) 

The paranoid position is the stage when destructive impulses and 
persecutory anxieties predominate and extends from birth until about 
three, four, or even five months of life. . . . The depressive position, 
which follows on this stage and is bound up with important steps in 
ego development, is established about the middle of the first year of 
life. At this stage sadistic impulses and phantasies, as well as per- 
secutory anxiety, diminish in power. The infant introjects the object 
as a whole, and simultaneously he becomes in some measure able to 
synthesize the various aspects of the object as well as his emotions 
towards it. Love and hatred come closer together in his mind, and 
this leads to anxiety lest the object, internal and external, be harmed 
or destroyed. Depressive feeling and guilt give rise to the urge to 
preserve or revive the loved object and thus to make reparation for 
destructive impulses and phantasies. . . . 

This concept (i.e. the Depressive Position) also throws new light 
on the early stages of the Oedipus complex. I still believe that these 
begin roughly in the middle of the first year. 

Since by that time Mrs. Klein now regarded the period of maximal 
sadism as having been already passed, she came to hold that the 
infant turns to the father with an ambivalent attitude of both love 
and hate, and says : 'I now correlate the early stages of the 
Oedipus complex with the depressive position.' The comment of 
J. O. Wisdom is pertinent at this point : 

To see how the theory of the structure and function of internal 
objects gives rise to the Oedipus-situation requires an additional piece 
of theory. This is the theory of the 'paranoid-schizoid position' and 
of the 'depressive position'. {Brit. J. for the Phil, of Sc, Vol. Ill, 
No. 25, 1956,?. 107.) 

2. The Primary Unity of the Ego 

Mrs. Klein's work has led to the view that the ego is a whole 
entity in its own right from the beginning. The conclusion is 
clearly at variance with Freud's theory of the id and ego. The 
inadequacy of Freud's id-ego-super-ego scheme has been revealed 
already through the criticism of its individual terms. It is also 
possible to discuss the inadequacy of Freud's scheme from another 
point of view, in the hght of Melanie Klein's findings. It is in- 
complete as a scheme of internal ego-object relationships. If, to 
simpUfy the discussion for the moment, we use the term ego-ideal 
for the conscious part of the super-ego, this would appear to be an 


internal object with which the Freudian ego sustains a relation- 
ship. If the sadistic and mainly unconscious part of the super-ego 
is likewise taken to be an internal object, it has no corresponding 
ego with which an internal object-relationship can be sustained, 
for such an ego must by definition be 'repressed' and unconscious 
to function as such ; whereas Freud's scheme makes no provision 
for such a repressed ego or part of an ego. It cannot be found in 
the id, for if it is to partner the sadistic super-ego it must be against 
the id. The id itself is neither ego nor internal object and is an 
anomalous entity ; however, since it is essentially 'libidinal energy', 
we have already seen reason to think it ought to be regarded as 
itself a hbidinal ego rather than as energy in a formless and totally 
unstructured state. At best then, Freud's scheme gives us (i) an 
internal object-relationship between the ego and the ego-ideal; 
(2) a sadistic part of the super-ego as an internal object without an 
ego to partner it, and (3) the id as an ego without an internal 
object to partner it. Mrs. Klein's work has already suggested the 
internalized good object, the introjected maternal breast as satis- 
fying, to partner the id if this were treated as an ego, and though 
she speaks of the id she has really already transcended that idea 
in the concept of the original unity of the infantile ego. 

This realization of the need for a revision of structural theory 
was not reached by Mrs. Klein and her colleagues, and the prob- 
lem of an ego needed to correlate with the sadistic unconscious 
super-ego was not even glimpsed. Meanwhile it had become aj> 
parent to Kleinian writers that Freud's distinction between id and 
ego, in his sense, is artificial and needed to be transcended. Writing 
of the differentiation of the Freudian ego from the id, Paula 
Heimann observes : 

We can define the beginning of the ego with the first introjections 
of another psychological entity. By virtue of his needs and his utter 
helplessness, guided by his oral instincts, the infant turns to the outer 
world and makes contact with another human being. He sucks at his 
mother's breast. This simple process can be defined in several ways : 
as a direct expression of instinctual needs, that is an id activity (since 
by definition the id is the seat of the instincts); or, since, again by 
definition it is the surface part of the id, i.e. the ego which performs 
the contacts with the outer world, as an activity of the ego. The 
burden of the argument is this: when we consider the earliest pro- 
cesses we cannot make a sharp distinction between the id and the ego, 
because in our view the ego is formed from experiences. The earliest 
contacts (introjections and projections) start this process. The infant's 
first sucking is then neither an id-activity nor an ego-activity — it is 


both, it is an activity of the incipient ego. [Present writer's italics.] 
(1952, p. 128.) 

Heimann is in process of outgrowing the id concept. There does 
not exist at the beginning a mere id. Its activities have an ego 
aspect, and this primitive ego manifests so-called id-activity, i.e. 
libidinal impulses towards the maternal breast. Energy and struc- 
ture are all one, as was really implied by the criticisms of Hart- 
mann, Kris and Loewenstein and F. Alexander. The Freudian ego 
is a later development which arises out of the splitting of the 
original ego into two egos. The so-called id is the primary libidin- 
ally needy self and the Freudian ego is a self that seeks adjustment 
to outer reality (in the trends to conformity of which H. S. Sullivan 
made so much). The libidinally needy self, as it strives for satis- 
faction, comes to be opposed and repressed. Freud discovered it in 
the unconscious and mistook it for an impersonal id because it was 
not a conscious ego. Had he held to the phenomena of hysteria 
with its dissociations and repressions, he might have come to base 
his structural scheme on the concept of a fundamental splitting of 
the unity of the original ego. Kleinian writers took the first steps 
to a revision of structural theory in arriving at the concept of the 
mental splitting of the object in the course of internal-object 
formation, and of the primary unity of the ego. 

The primary libidinal id-ego is as much an ego, a self, as any 
later developed ego-aspect of the psyche. It has an object, the 
breast, and it can introject its object. Heimann says that the ego 
begins with the first introjections but that is self-contradictory. It 
implies that the id is already functioning as an ego, having an 
object and introjecting it, in order to start up ego-development. 
Heimann speaks of : 

processes of adding something new to the self or ridding it of some- 
thing of its own which have an inestimable share in the modification 
of the original id into an ego. (M. Klein et al., 1952, p. 126.) 

But, surely, introjection and projection make sense only when 
they are seen as activities of an ego in dynamic relations with 
objects. The literal implication of her words would be that the id 
functions as an ego in order to give rise to the ego. Such confusions 
are due to the fact that Kleinian writers did not recognize that 
Freud's structural theory and id-instinct theory are incompatible. 
It is far simpler to see that a new theory of endopsychic struc- 
ture is needed as a result of Melanie Klein's work and of the 
already existing criticisms of Freud's structural scheme, a new 
theory which, in fact, Heimann almost explicitly states without 


recognizing it. The unreality involved in the Kleinian preserva- 
tion of the id-concept is clear from the way in which Susan Isaacs 
and Joan Riviere accept the existence of an ego from birth. Susan 
Isaacs writes : 

Some measure of 'Synthetic function' is exercised upon instinctual 
urges from the beginning. The child could not learn, could not adapt 
to the external world (human or not) without some sort and degree 
of control and inhibition, as well as satisfaction, of instinctual urges 
progressively developed from birth onwards. (M. Klein et al.^ 1952, 
p. no.) 

Joan Riviere discusses the orthodox criticism by Anna Freud of the 
Kleinian theory of ego-development. Anna Freud wrote : 

It is a controversial matter whether clashes between opposing in- 
stinctual urges of the love-hate, libido-destruction series can come into 
being before a central ego has been established with power to inte- 
grate the mental processes, or only afterwards. (Quoted in M. Klein 
etal, 1952, p. 13.) 

Joan Riviere adds in a footnote that 'Anna Freud stated that the 
period before such a central ego has been established extends 
roughly over the first years of Ufe.' {Ibid., p. 113.) To this Riviere 
repUed : 

Klein's view is that in accordance with the genetic character of 
development we may postulate an ego which has some rudiments of 
integration and cohesion from the beginning and which progresses 
increasingly in that direction; further, that conflict does arise before 
ego-development is much advanced and power to integrate mental 
processes is established at all fully . . . libido itself (Eros) is defined 
by Freud as a force serving the purpose of preservation, propagation 
and unification; i.e. its function is a synthetic one; we do not under- 
stand the view that at any period of life there could be no synthetic 
function in operation. In our view struggle and conflict of various 
kinds, integrating and disintegrating forces, exist and operate from 
the very beginning in human life. {Ibid., pp. 13-14.) 

The disagreement between Anna Freud and the Kleinians on this 
point is, however, largely the result of the id-theory and instinct- 
theory. Anna Freud cannot recognize that there are synthetic 
functions at work from the beginning because she cannot admit 
that the so-called id is the primitive libidinal ego sustaining a 
definite object-relation to the breast from birth, and that so-called 
instinctive id-impulses are, even at this stage, activities of a self 


with synthesizing functions, reactions of a primitive dynamic ego- 
structure to objects. Kleinians recognize that the ego, in however 
rudimentary a form, is there from the first, and is involved in 
object-relationships from the very beginning. But they have not 
realized that the primacy of ego-object relations, external and 
internal, and the fact that instinctive reactions never occur except 
as reactions of a dynamic ego-structure to objects, renders the id- 
concept and the classic instinct-theory superfluous. 

It will be well to make it clear that Kleinian theory, departing 
from classic Freudian theory, carries object-relations as well as the 
ego back to the very beginning. Freud is explicit and insistent that 
the earlier phases of development are autoerotic and narcissistic 
and that this means that they are objectless. Melanie Klein and 
her followers at first carried on this piece of orthodox theory. 
Speaking of earliest infancy, Joan Riviere wrote in 1936 : 

This narcissistic world of the psyche is one of 'hallucination', based 
on sensation and ruled by feelings (under the sway of the pleasure- 
pain principle), entirely autistic, not only lacking in objectivity, but 
at first without objects. 

But she added a footnote later to this : 

1950. I should now correct this to : 'At the very first without 
awareness of external objects.' {Ibid., pp. 40-41.) 

Paula Heimann states clearly the primacy of object-relations, 
when she writes concerning the development of differentiations in 
endopsychic structure, that : 

The differentiations are brought about by the fact that the in- 
dividual exists in a world on which he is dependent by virtue of his 
instincts : his wish to keep alive, his desire for pleasure and his fear 
of destruction. It seems evident that an organism which depends to 
a vast extent on other organisms and powers outside itself for attain- 
ing its purposes, must become influenced and changed by such con- 
tacts. {Ibid., p. 122.) 

Joan Riviere quotes Anna Freud as saying : 

I consider that there is a narcissistic and autoerotic phase of 
several months' duration, preceding object-relations in the proper 
sense, even though [Riviere's italics] the beginnings of object-relation 
are slowly built up during this initial stage. . . . Freudian theory 
allows at this period only for the crudest rudiments of object-relation- 
ship and sees life governed by the desire for instinctual gratification 
in which perception of the object is only achieved slowly. . . . 


Riviere comments : 

Here she makes a distinction between 'object-relation in its proper 
sense', on the one hand, and 'the crudest beginnings of object-rela- 
tion built up during the initial stage' on the other. There can be no 
such distinction, since the 'beginnings' and so on are the object- 
relation appropriate and proper to the earliest stage of development. 
At each stage of instinctual primacy the character or degree of object- 
relation is proper to that stage. (Only if 'object-relation proper' were 
understood to mean fully developed adult object-relation could such 
a distinction be made.) (M. Klein et al., 1952, p. 12.) 

In view of this it seems that she makes an unnecessary concession 
to the older theory when she still held that the infant is at first 
'without awareness of external objects', for surely the beginnings 
of awareness appropriate to that stage must be present with the 
beginnings of object-relationship. Autoeroticism and narcissism 
are, of course, clinically observable phenomena and are explained 
by Kleinians as overlapping and co-existing with object-relations. 
They turn out to be a matter of disguised relationships with objects 
internal to, and identified with, the self. 

We may now attempt some general assessment on the contro- 
versial question of whether the Kleinian system is a deviation (or 
heresy) from Freud. Kleinians retain Freud's unsatisfactory 
theories of the life and death instincts and of endopsychic struc- 
ture, the distinction of the id and ego, and his hedonistic or pleasure 
theory of motivation. Yet their title to the name 'psycho-analyst' 
is more safely rested on their basically psycho-analytical orienta- 
tion and method in dealing with human nature, and on their 
development of the most progressive psychodynamic aspects of 
Freud's theories rather than on their retention of his earlier 
psychobiology and structural terminology. For they are undoubt- 
edly in process all the time of outgrowing the implications of his 
instinct-theory and substituting for it an object-relations theory 
which calls for a revised structural theory. Their explicit disavowal 
of his theory of autoeroticism is a case in point. They are true 
psycho-analysts in spirit and have continued and developed 
Freud's own work in new and profoundly important ways. But 
their discoveries necessitate a far bigger break with the early 
psychobiological Freud than they have recognized, and point the 
way to more far-reaching revisions of the theories of the later 
psychodynamic Freud than they themselves have made. This is 
the core of truth in the charge of 'deviationism'. 

It appears to the present writer that the work of Freud in the 
1920s paved the way for that of Melanie Klein in the 1930s. 


Freud's creative contributions may be regarded as ending with 
Inhibitions J Symptoms and Anxiety in 1926, or possibly with 
Civilization and its Discontents in 1930, apart from the outstand- 
ing essay Analysis, Terminable and Interminable in 1937 which 
is, however, more a contribution to therapy than theory. He must 
surely rank for all time among the greatest of scientific pioneers, 
and it is the first steps in discovery that are the hardest to take. 
But the honour must be accorded to Melanie Klein of having made 
those decisive developments of Freud's work that make it possible 
for psycho-analysis to become a true psychodynamic theory of 
the human being as a person. Her 'deviationism' is 'develop- 
mentalism', and simply shows that psycho-analysis does not stand 

Some aspects of Mrs. Klein's latest work, on 'projective identi- 
fication' and 'envy', we shall consider in chapter XVI, after we 
have dealt with the views of Fairbaim. 

Chapter XIII 




I. Fairhairn and Freud 

Psycho-analysis itself implies that difTerent types of 
theoretical orientation will be developed by different types of 
personality. Brierley warns us that 'The form of any hypothesis is 
always influenced by unconscious determinants, since we can only 
apprehend things in ways permitted by the specific structure of 
our individual minds.' (1951, p. 96.) This is a factor that can 
either facilitate insight or falsify it. One type of mind is liable to 
see certain things otherwise than as they are ; we all to some extent 
project our own mental structure on to the outer world. Another 
person can recognize those same things as they are, in a way that 
other thinkers may miss. Probably more in psychology than in 
other scientific studies, the initial approach of an investigator is 
determined by his mental make-up and his previous education 
and experience of living. A comparison of the personalities and 
work of, say, Pavlov, J. B. Watson, Janet, McDougall, Spearman 
and Freud shows that each investigator studies those phenomena 
that his type of mind is most ready to accept as significant, and is 
liable to undervalue or even deny the reality of other parts of the 
total field that others see clearly enough. 

Within the narrower field of psychotherapy and psycho- 
dynamic theory, the differences of approach to the complex prob- 
blem of human nature likely to be made by different types of 
personality, is exemplified by the hypnotist and suggestionist, 
Adlerians, Jungians, Freudians and the Objective Psychological 
Testers. For our present purpose, within the still narrower field of 
psycho-analytical theory, one feels a difference of mental atmo- 
sphere and attitude in the writings of Freud and Fairbaim. This is 
partly due to the different cultural climates of the 1 880s and the 


1920s and 1930s, and partly to a difference between the two men 
as human beings. 

Fairbaim has stated that it was out of definite personal convic- 
tion that he followed the line of Freud and not that of Jung. He 
has written : 

I cannot say that I entertain any regrets over the fact that my 
researches have been conducted under the auspices of the Freudian 
rather than the Jungian tradition. When I first became interested in 
problems of psychopathology, I had no controversial axe to grind; 
and if, on reaching the cross-roads of thought, I chose to follow the 
path mapped out by Freud instead of that mapped out by Jung, this 
was certainly not because I considered Freud invariably right and 
Jung invariably wrong. It was because, on comparing Freud's basic 
conceptions with those of Jung, I found the former incomparably 
more illuminating and convincing, and felt them to offer an infinitely 
better prospect of solving the problems with which psychopathology 
is concerned. If some of the conclusions which I have subsequently 
reached involve no inconsiderable divergence from Freud's views, I 
still feel that, in taking Freud's views as my starting-point, I was 
building upon a more solid foundation than would otherwise have 
been the case. (1955, p. 144.) 

Fairbaim's earUest writings show him thoroughly rooted in the 
orthodox psycho-analytical concepts. Yet one becomes aware of 
a type of mind that is radically different from that of Freud, even 
though sharing so much that is fundamental with him. 

It is a perilous business trying to describe the difference, but 
some attempt must be made. Freud and Fairbaim put their 
primary emphases in different places. It is, perhaps, a rough 
approximation to say that with Freud, whilst he was an eminendy 
human being in his family and private life, in his work the human 
being was absorbed into the scientist. This would have mattered 
httle in any other branch of scientific work, but in psychology it 
led him to evolve a distinctly impersonal type of theory, tied as we 
have seen to the thought-forms of physical science, and also an 
impersonal therapeutic technique. Fairbaim is as scrupulously 
careful in his scientific work as was Freud. His scientific conscience 
is as exacting as Freud's, but always he is first and foremost, not 
'the scientist', but a human being using scientific enquiry to further 
his understanding of other human beings in their struggle to live. 
A young professional social worker, after reading his book for the 
first time, remarked : 'My most general impression is that Fair- 
baim writes about human beings.' 

Freud was first 'the scientist' ; the anatomist, physiologist and 



neurologist who would have preferred a life devoted to laboratory 
research and was not primarily interested in being a healer. He 
had to be pushed by events into the field of psychological investi- 
gation in which he then proved to possess powers amounting to 
genius. In his work Freud was a scientist turned 'humanist'. By 
contrast, Fairbaim is a 'humanist' turned scientist. His classical 
education and graduation in Mental Philosophy in Edinburgh 
were followed by intensive studies in Hellenistic Greek, and in 
reUgious, philosophical and psychological subjects, both in Great 
Britain and Germany. But he was at the same time greatly at- 
tracted by medicine and, when he finally turned to that as a 
career, it was with the specific aim of specializing in psychological 
medicine. The human interest dominated the purely scientific 
interest throughout. He has stated that his interest in Freudian 
psycho-analysis was aroused by the fact that he felt it could throw 
light on the profoundly human problems of anxiety and guilt. 

It was not, then, an accident that Freud evolved a biological 
psychology founded on the concept of instinct and never quite 
realized how far he was driven away from his basic assumptions 
by the need to embark on the analysis of the ego in terms of human 
object-relationships. Neither is it an accident that Fairbaim 
quickly realized the far-reaching importance of Melanie Kleia's 
analysis of endopsychic structure in terms of object-relations and 
proceeded further than Melanie Kleia herself in developing a full 
psychodynamic 'object-relations' theory of the personality. In 
revising psycho-analytic theory in terms of the priority of human 
relations over instincts as the causal factor in development, both 
normal and abnormal, Fairbaim was also expressing his own 
mentality which is of a type to facilitate his seeing correctly the 
objective facts in this matter. He does not, of course, by any means 
stand alone to-day in recognizing the need for this change of 
emphasis, but more thoroughly than anyone else so far he has 
reformulated theory to conform to this newer insight. 

2. The Attitudes of Freud and Fairbairn to Science and Religion 

The difference between Freud and Fairbairn comes out clearly 
in their respective attitudes to science and religion. Freud shared 
the late nineteenth-century overvaluation of science in an 
emotional sense as the proper substitute for religion. For him the 
Weltanschauung or 'philosophical world view' of psycho-analysis 
was simply that of the scientific rationalism of his day. He looked 
to the 'still small voice' of scientific reason for the ultimate solution 
of all problems, practical as well as theoretical. For Freud, Science 


with a capital 'S' was Truth with a capital *T', in the sense that 
science alone, throughout all its changing and developing theories, 
was working towards that goal. Hence for Freud, as scientist and 
rationalist, religion was at worst nothing but superstition, and at 
best infantile phantasy. He was not only biased but hostile to both 
religion and philosophy. We have dealt with Freud's 'philosophy 
of science,' and the changes that have come about in this field of 
thought since his day, in chapter VH. 

Fairbairn, on the other hand, having had the benefit of the 
critical examination of the claims of science to represent 'Truth' 
that has gone on since Freud's day, is less prepared to 'bow the 
knee to the scientific Baal' and has a more critically independent 
attitude. In his paper 'Schizoid Factors in the Personality' (1940) 
he writes : 

Intellectual pursuits as such, whether literary, artistic, scientific 
or otherwise, appear to exercise a special attraction for individuals 
possessing schizoid characteristics to one degree or another. Where 
scientific pursuits are concerned, the attraction would appear to 
depend upon the schizoid individual's attitude of detachment, no 
less than upon his overvaluation of thought processes : for these are 
both characteristics which readily lend themselves to capitalization 
within the field of science. The obsessional appeal of science, based 
as this is upon the presence of a compulsive need for orderly arrange- 
ment and meticulous accuracy, has, of course, long been recognized; 
but the schizoid appeal is no less definite. (1952a, p. 6.) 

The scientific attitude of complete unemotional detachment from 
the facts investigated is essentially schizoid. It is not a psycho- 
pathological state if it is an attitude of mind voluntarily adopted 
for the specific purpose of investigation. But schizoid intellectuals 
are bound to be attracted to science as an escape from the pressure 
of personal emotional relationships which the schizoid person finds 
difficult. Any analyst who has treated University staff members 
cannot fail to realize how important the schizoid factor is in their 
problems. It has played an important part in the controversy 
between science and religion. This controversy was most obviously 
due to the fact that, dating from the pre-scientific era, religious 
tradition had come to usurp the functions of science, and its 
thinkers mistakenly regarded its dogmas and symbols as being 
statements of the same kind as scientific statements of fact. But 
many a schizoid scientist, in rejecting religion, made exactly the 
same mistake. Science is primarily intellectual investigation of 
impersonal phenomena, and religion is primarily emotional ex- 
perience of personal relationships, from which the schizoid person 


is detached and which he often consciously dislikes and has littie 
capacity to understand. It is not therefore surprising that the 
overwhelmingly scientific trend in Freud's theory and therapeutic 
technique should have shaped both in a markedly impersonal way. 
Freud said that he employed the couch technique because he could 
not stand being looked at by his patients for eight hours a day, 
and he seems to have disliked 'regressed' patients who cannot so 
easily be treated by impersonal methods. It was natural for his 
theoretical interest to switch over from hysteria to obsessional 
problems. He showed fairly clear signs of a resistance against the 
'human closeness' involved in the kind of work for which at the 
same time he had such extraordinary gifts. Fairbaim has observed 
that a schizoid trend can confer marked intellectual insight into 
psychological realities, no doubt because any degree of outer 
emotional detachment involves living more in the inner world. 
Only a man of an introspective intellectual type could have de- 
veloped psycho-analytic theory out of a self-analysis, and probably 
for this reason Freud's theory and technique bore the impersonal 
stamp of the 'pure science' point of view. Freud must have had 
some personal reasons for overvaluing the impersonal scientific 
method, as also for his hostility to religion. 

In his paj>er on 'Observations in Defence of the Object-Rela- 
tions Theory of the Personality' (1955) Fairbaim has stated ex- 
plicitly his view of science. 

It would be truer to say that I regard . . . psycho-analysis as a scien- 
tific discipline than that I regard it as a 'natural science'. In other 
words, I regard it as a legitimate field for the harnessing of scientific 
method to the task of exact conceptualization. At the same time I do 
not regard it as either necessary or desirable for the analyst who 
aspires to be scientific to adopt the particular method appropriate to 
physical science. Thus I consider that, as in the case of all forms of 
psychological research, the investigations of psycho-analysis should 
be conducted at the level of personality and personal relations 
[Present writer's italics] (p. 151). 

Here is a radical difTerence of outlook from that of Freud, which 
played a great part in determining Fairbaim's substitution of an 
object-relations theory of the personality for the orthodox psycho- 
biological instinct-theory. It is also the ground on which he rejects 
'process theory' as an unsuitable type of terminology for the 
psychological study of the 'person'. He writes : 

My conception of science is that it is essentially an intellectual tool 
and nothing more. I do not regard it as in any sense providing an 


(even approximately) accurate picture of reality as it actually exists, 
still less a revelation of ultimate truth : and if asked to define the 
nature of scientific truth, I should describe it as simply explanatory 
truth. . . . The picture of reality provided by science is an intellectual 
construct representing the fruits of an attempt to describe the various 
phenomena of the universe , in as coherent and systematic a manner 
as the limitations of human intelligence permit, by means of the 
formulation of general laws established by inductive inference under 
the conditions of maximum emotional detachment and objectivity 
on the part of the scientific observer. {Ibid., p. 154.) 

Concerning science as nothing more than an intellectual tool, 
Fairbaim says : 

It is possible, of course, to make this intellectual tool the basis of 
a philosophy of life — and even of a form of religion; and there is a 
prevalent tendency in the age in which we live, especially among the 
intelligentsia, to exploit science in this way. However, I do not 
happen to be one of those who adopt such an attitude. It seems 
obvious to me that the analyst is not primarily a scientist, but a 
psychotherapist; and it seems equally obvious that the adoption of a 
psychotherapeutic role ipso facto involves a departure from the 
strictly scientific attitude. {Ibid., pp. 154-5.) 

Psychotherapy rests on a broad basis of human value-judgments 
quite different from the purely explanatory values of science. To 
the therapist it is better for the patient to be well than ill. To the 
scientist qua scientist health and sickness are alike merely 
phenomena to be explained. Fairbaim holds that the possession of 

a scientifically based and explanatory psychological system is a tool 
of inestimable value in the hands of the psychotherapist. {Ibid., 
P- 1 55-) 

Its use, however, 

apart from such inherent justification as it may possess as a means of 
satisfying curiosity . . . can only be justified in so far as it is made to 
serve human and personal values transcending any purely scientific 
value. {Ibid., p. 155.) 

Fairbaim here raises fundamental problems concerning science, 
psychology and psychotherapy that Freud did not, and in his 
time probably could not, begin to discuss. Psychotherapy uses 
science but is not itself a scientific activity. Freud set out simply as 
a scientific investigator and naturally sought to fashion psychology 
and psychotherapy so as to 'make them scientific', not realizing 


that the attempt was a contradiction in terms in the case of psycho- 
therapy, and in the case of psycho-analytic theory could not 
succeed if science was to mean 'natural science'. This difference of 
standing-ground between Freud and Fairbaim is simply funda- 
mental. Fairbairn adds two further important comments. 

Personally I consider that a psychology conceived in terms of 
object-relations and dynamic structure is more compatible with the 
recognition of such human and personal values as psychotherapy 
serves than is any other psychology hitherto available. It is not for 
this reason that I have adopted such a psychology, but for the purely 
scientific reason that its correspondence to the facts and its explana- 
tory value seem to me greater than those of any other psychology, 
e.g. a psychology conceived in terms of 'impulse' and 'instinct'. {Ibid.y 

P- 155-) 

Because of Fairbaim's difference from Freud in type of mind and 
basic approach, he recognized the priority of object-relations over 
instincts as causal factors in personality growdi, in a way that 
Freud did not. 

This same basic difference gives Fairbaim a different attitude to 
religion from that of Freud. Even while he regards scientific ex- 
planatory truth as an indispensable guide in psychotherapy he 

It is the verdict of history, and particularly of religious history, 
that effective psychotherapy can take place in the absence of all 
scientific knowledge. ... I consider further that what is sought by 
the patient who enlists psychotherapeutic aid, is not so much health 
as salvation from his past, from bondage to his (internal) bad objects, 
from the burden of guilt, and from spiritual death. His search thus 
corresponds in detail to the religious quest. ... I am convinced that 
it is the patient's relationship to the analyst that mediates the 'curing' 
or 'saving' effect of psychotherapy . . . the development of the 
patient's relationship to the analyst, through a phase in which earlier 
pathogenic relationships are repeated under the influence of trans- 
ference, into a new kind of relationship which is at once satisfying 
and adapted to the circumstances of outer reality. {Ibid., pp. 155-6.) 

In spite of the concept of transference being common to both, 
Freud and Fairbaim are here in different worlds of thought and 
feeling ; and the question of religion, to which Freud could adopt 
only a negative and hostile attitude, is a touchstone of the dif- 
ference. Fairbaim recognizes in the religious terminology of 
'salvation' an expression of the natural, naive and unreflective way 


in which human beings spontaneously felt about their person- 
ality problems. Such terminology is not peculiar to any one 
religious creed. With cultural differences and variations it is 
shared by all forms of religion, and is close to man's actual, im- 
mediate experience of himself. Thus for Fairbaim religion is an 
impressive activity and experience of human beings throughout 
the centuries, and is to be approached not with hostility as a mere 
nuisance, irrelevance and brake on progress, but with sympathetic 
insight in order to understand what human beings have actually 
been seeking and doing in their religious life. 

In the result Fairbaim finds that religion provides a more 
illuminating analogy to the aims and processes of psychotherapy 
than either science or education do. He even recognizes no in- 
considerable part of psycho-dynamic theory implicit, if not yet 
scientifically formulated, in religious concepts. 

The relevance of this is seen in Professor John Macmurray's 
definition of the sphere of religion as the sphere of human relation- 
ships. Fairbaim's interest in the psychology of religion is one ex- 
pression of his fundamental concern with 'object-relationships' as 
the substance of human living, and the key to the understanding 
of all personality phenomena. 

The earliest of Fairbaim's published papers (1927) is 'Notes on 
the Religious Phantasies of a Female Patient'. (1952a, pp. 183- 
96.) It was written before Melanie Klein's work had advanced 
very far and shows no trace of her influence. It shows how easily 
and naturally the personal quest for a good object as the primary 
psychic motivation flows into the religious channel. The patient, a 
spinster aged thirty-one years presented hysterical symptoms cover- 
ing a profound schizoid disturbance. The central fact of her history 
was that, though her father was alive, she had never seen him, 
since her parents separated soon after her birth. Her entire psycho- 
pathological development revolved around her profound need to 
satisfy her craving for a father. The case recalls the 'protesting cry 
of a patient' Fairbairn quoted years later, in affirming his principle 
that libido is not primarily pleasure-seeking but object-seeking, 
namely, 'You're always talking about my wanting this and that 
desire satisfied; but what I really want is a father.' (1952a, p. 


At the time of her first breakdown, she felt cravings for male 
attentions, was sexually enlightened by her doctor as a precaution 
and medically examined by another doctor; from then on 
masturbation became a distressing habit which she regarded as 
the chief factor in aggravating her illness. But she ultimately be- 
came 'a complete devotee of masturbation ; and the experience 


accompanying the act was described by her as "exquisite beyond 
belief" '. {Ibid., p. 195.) It represented the satisfaction of her need 
for a father, being often accompanied by phantasies about medical 
men who had become father-figures for her, and who had f ocussed 
her life-long craving for a father in sexual phantasy and masturb- 
ation. In a second breakdown at twenty-two years of age, she 
began to have religious visions and phantasies in which she felt 
herself to be identified with either the Mother of Christ, or Christ 
Himself, or the Bride of Christ. This phantasy life was an altema- 1 
tive satisfaction of her longing for a father, since, (a) as the Mother | 
of Christ she was specially chosen by the Father, and (b) as Christ ' 
Himself she was the special child of the Father, and (c) as the 
special child (daughter) of the Father, only the Son could be 
worthy of her as His Bride; and in addition she is again the 
beloved of a male person, a phantasy registering her fixation on 
her brother as a father-substitute. She once woke from a dream 
with the words 'Perhaps I shall marry father' in her ears. 

The final result of this case is startling in its implications. The 
patient, who had discontinued analytic treatment, fell into a con- 
dition of increasing neurasthenic weakness for which no cause in 
organic disease could be found, while she remained perfectly 
rational and orientated in space and time. Fairbaim was called 
and saw her on her death-bed, and he records his view that 'she 
died in a state of sexual desire ; and when I left her moribund on 
the occasion of my final visit, almost her last words were, "I want 
a man".' (1952a, p. 196.) 

The implication would appear to be that so basic is the object- 
relations need that a human being can even die in consequence of 
the complete frustration of the primary libidinal need for a basic 
(parental) good-object relationship during the development period. 
The symptoms of her illness represented the phases of her tortured 
personal, emotional and sexual need for this vital object-relation. 

Such a case as this at an early stage must have exercised a pro- 
found influence on a thinker of Fairbaim's outiook, preparing for 
the shaping of his thought towards the formulation of 'object- 
relations' theory. He stated thus early his view of the problems of 
the psychology of religion. He is not prepared to 'explain away' 
the phenomena of the cultural life of human beings by reference 
to their psychological origins, while he preserves a prop>er place 
for the scientific investigation of those origins. He writes : 

Personally, I am very far from being one of those who considers 
that higher values can be accounted for wholly in terms of their 
psychological origins; and, indeed, if it were so, it would be a poor 


outlook for human culture. Nevertheless, psychological origins pro- 
vide a legitimate field for investigation on the part of psychological 
science. {Ibid., p. 189.) 

Thus he is prepared, in a way that Freud was not, to allow for the 
existence of a normal cultural, and in this case religious, experi- 
ence along with its psychoneurotic counterpart. Concerning the 
case under discussion, he says : 

It is plain that we are not here dealing with the normal religious 
experience of the devout person orientated in reality, but with experi- 
ences of an unusual and grandiose character in which the imagina- 
tion has been exalted at the expense of the facts of real life. It is not 
a case of the ordinary Christian experience . . . but of an actual 
dramatization within the individual of the themes underlying the 
religious experience. (1952a, p. 188.) 

He pointed out that the patient did not feel herself to be a wor- 
shipper, but to be the actual principal figure m the religious 
mysteries : a schizoid failure to distinguish between phantasy and 
reality. Yet, this very psychopathological intensification and dis- 
tortion was a revelation of the terrific power resident in the 
primary need and search of the human child for a good father. 
So overpowering was this need for good-object relationship that 
it seized possession of the patient's entire life, world and available 
energy, ultimately destroying her physical existence in its utterly 
uncompromisng struggle to gain satisfaction. From the point of 
view of the psychology of religion, the true inference would seem 
to be that, though this patient's religion was neurotic, religion per 
se is not necessarily neurotic. Religious experience is so much an 
expression of human nature as rooted in the primary need for 
good personal relationship that it became a natural channel in 
which the patient's starved need should flow, albeit to find dis- 
torted and psychopathological expressions. Study of the psycho- 
logical origins of religious, as of moral and aesthetic, values, does 
not, then, settle the question either for or against their truth and 
validity. It simply contributes data that must be tal^en into con- 
sideration in a wider enquiry. It is, of course, important that 
manifestations of guilt and anxiety in moral and religious experi- 
ence should be studied psycho-analytically, but when one con- 
siders that human behaviour in art;, marriage, sport, hobbies, 
money-making and even science — in short, any and every form 
of human behaviour — can be similarly affected by the same moti- 
vation, it is clear that there is more to be said than psycho-analysis 
can say. Especially with reference to religion, Freud and most 


analysts have used psycho-analytical considerations simply to 
explain away. Fairbairn uses psycho-analytical considerations as 
one factor among others in helping to determine the nature and 
function of religion in human life. 

I have stated elsewhere what seems to me to be the correct view 
of the relationship of rehgion and science as bearing on psycho- 
therapy, though this does not cover the whole problem of the 
nature of religion. If the therapeutic factor in psychotherapy is 
to be found, as Fairbairn holds, in the object-relationship of 
patient and analyst, then : 

The fundamental therapeutic factor in psychotherapy is more 
akin to religion than to science, since it is a matter of personal rela- 
tionship rather than of the application of impersonal knowledge and 
technique. Bertrand Russell once defined the good life as 'the life 
inspired by love and guided by knowledge' {What I Believe, p. 28, 
1925), which provides a neat formula for relating the scientific and 
religious factors in psychotherapy and in human life generally. Re- 
ligion has always stood for the saving power of the good object-rela- 
tionship. Religion is distinguished from science as the historical form 
under which the therapeutic factor for personality ills has been recog- 
nized and cultivated. Unfortunately it has so often lacked the ac- 
curate knowledge which science could supply of the nature of the 
problems and how best to apply the remedy. Science stands for the 
discovery of the necessary knowledge without which love may be in- 
effective. (Guntrip, 1953, p. 116.) 

Fairbairn states the position so far as the strictly psycho-analytical 
study of religion is concerned as follows : 

The characteristic standpoint of the psycho-analytical school is 
to look for the sources of the religous need in the dynamic uncon- 
scious of the individual. It is, of course, in the same direction that 
this school of psycho-analytical thought looks for the source of artistic 
inspiration and of all the achievements of human culture in general 
— the guiding principle being that cultural phenomena represent the 
symbolic and sublimated expression of repressed wishes of a primal 
character. . . . Where the psychological sources of the religious need 
are concerned there are two factors in the dynamic unconscious to 
which special importance is attached. . . . These are (i) persistence of 
the original attitude towards parents prevailing during early child- 
hood, and displacement of this attitude towards supernatural beings 
from its attachment to human parents under the influence of disil- 
lusionment regarding their powers and capabilities to provide un- 
limited support; and (2) the persistent influence of a repressed 


Oedipus situation accompanied by conflict, and an inner need to 
obtain relief from the attendant guilt. (1952a, pp. 188-9.) 

Of these two points one would have to say, first, that they pre- 
judge the question of whether religion is infantile per se, and rule 
out the possibility of religious experience in the mature person- 
ahty ; but second, that they do make it very clear that religion is 
about the human being's innate need to find good object-relation- 
ships in which to live his life. 

The Kleinian emphasis generally, seems to be on good-object 
relations as a defence against anxiety. Brierley writes : 'The con- 
ception of psychic life as mastery of anxiety is only a modem 
version of Freud's original conception of the psyche as an ap- 
paratus for the regulation of instinct-tension.' (1951, p. 42.) But 
since anxiety itself is a secondary thing a reaction to the thwarting 
of the primary libidinal 'will to live', Fairbairn's emphasis is the 
fundamental one, namely, that the drive to good-object relation- 
ships is itself the primary hbidinal need. Good-object relations 
have an intrinsic and not merely a defensive value. Thus Fair- 
bairn's first paper was very markedly 'object-relations orientated', 
even though he had not yet begun to theorize on the question of 
the relative importance of object-relations and instinct. 

3. Fairbairn's Early Writings 

Fairbairn's original theoretical writings began with his paper 
on schizoid phenomena in 1940. Prior to that date he wrote a 
number of papers which fall roughly into two groups, before and 
after 1933-4. From 1927-33 he was exploring the ramifications 
of psycho-analysis in many directions and tracing out its relations 
to academic psychology, physical phenomena, psychosis, religion, 
dentistry and sexual-legal problems. This coincides with his period 
as lecturer in the Department of Psychology, Edinburgh, till 1935, 
and Psychiatry 193 1-2. From 1934 onwards he continued to 
pursue the implications of psycho-analysis in wider fields, in prob- 
lems of politics, war, art and University teaching ; but now the 
influence of Melanie Klein becomes important, leading on to his 
period of original work from 1 940 onwards. 

This early work of Fairbaim is of interest in two ways. First it 
shows how thoroughly rooted in orthodox Freudian instinct-theory 
he was to begin with. That is impK)rtant because those who have 
the best right to make a critical appraisal of a theory are those 
who have first tested it by full acceptance in practice, and so have 
discovered where and how it calls for further development. Both 
Melanie Klein and Fairbaim began in the orthodox camp. Fair- 


bairn's early papers show here and there some reservations at 
points where one can see now that he was destined to explore new 
avenues of thought. But it was not till 1937 that he produced two 
papers on Psycho-analysis and Art which suddenly rose above all 
his earher work and showed his power of original thought, though 
this was not yet turned to the critical re-thinking of the whole field 
of psycho-analytic theory. By 1940 his paper on schizoid prob- 
lems began his real work as a theorist. One has the impression of 
an unconscious process of deepening insight silently maturing and 
then suddenly beginning to break surface. Thought is a socially 
conditioned phenomenon and Fairbaim did not develop in a 
vacuum. Of the external influences stimulating his mind, he re- 
gards that of the growing work of Melanie Klein as the most 
important and dates it definitely from hearing her read her paper 
on the 'Psycho-genesis of Manic-Depressive States' in 1934. He 
quotes her in papers written in 1936-7. Between 1934 and 1940, 
a revolution in his psycho-analytical thinking was going on, creat- 
ing a climate of thought in which ideas put forward in an earlier 
paper in 1931, 'The Analysis of a Patient with a Genital Ab- 
normaHty', could come to fruition. 1927-34 was the Freudian 
period, 1934-40 the Kleinian period, 1940 onwards the Fair- 
baimian period. 

His earliest paper, in 1927, we have dealt with. It was followed 
by 'Fundamental Principles of Psycho-analysis' (1929, Edin. Med. 
J.), a clear and persuasive statement of orthodox theory. But at 
one point the independent thinker breaks through to foreshadow 
a later point of view. He writes : 

One cannot help feeling that Freud would have been better ad- 
vised to describe the satisfaction which the child derives from sucking 
as 'sensuous' (i.e. 'of the senses') rather than as 'sexual'. The pleasure 
derived from childish activities such as sucking is essentially due to 
the satisfaction of appetite, in the sense in which psychologists use 
this word. In the psychological sense of the word, 'appetite' is not 
restricted to the food-seeking tendency, but applied to all tendencies 
demanding immediate bodily satisfaction. All pleasure afforded by 
the satisfaction of appetites is essentially sensuous pleasure, whatever 
the nature of the appetite concerned. Since the fundamental activi- 
ties of the infant are all appetitive, the satisfaction derived from their 
indulgence may be described as sensuous. To call it sexual, as Freud 
does, involves a mistaken narrowing of the conception concerned. 
The truth seems to be that in infancy sensuous satisfaction is un- 
- differentiated, and that it is only as development proceeds that it 
becomes differentiated into sexual, alimentary and other forms. For 



similar reasons the 'libido' . . . should be regarded as the biological 
life-impulse, from which, in individual development, the sex-instinct 
is differentiated, rather than as something strictly sexual from the 
start. Freud, however, regards the libido as sexual from the outset, 
because the adult sex-instinct develops from it. It is for the same 
reason that he regards the appetitive activities of childhood as sexual, 
namely, because they are later integrated into the sexual impulse. 
. . . We may accept the continuity of development upon which Freud 
lays emphasis, while reserving judgment as to his use of the word 
'sexual'. {Edin. Med. /., June, 1929, pp. 340-1.) 

This suggestion would avoid the confusions arising out of Freud's 
broadening of the term 'sexual' until in the end it denotes a 
mystical entity, 'Eros'. Fairbaim regards sex as but one form of 
libidinal experience, and the way in which an individual uses his 
sexuality as depending upon his character and personality as 
formed by his experiences in object-relationships. He reverses 
Freud's view that character and personality type depend on sexual 
development. Further he regards 'libido' as the basic, positive, all- 
inclusive life-urge, which he now defines as the urge to good-object 
relations, while the sex-drive is but one of its manifestations, one 
channel along which it flows. Thus Fairbaim does not now 
hypostatize the libido as a sexual entity or energy in itself, but 
regards it as the energy-flow of the 'person' in action seeking the 
satisfaction of his primary needs. There is no such thing as the 
libido driving the person, but a person who is libidinally active. 
As early as 1929 Fairbaim dissented from Freud's use of libidinal 
and sexual as synonymous. 

The year 1929 saw also the publication of a paper, 'Some Points 
of Importance in the Psychology of Anxiety' {Brit. J. Med. Psych., 
Vol. IX, Pt. 4, pp. 303-13). Here he discusses the problem of in- 
stinct, making use of academic psychology as well as of psycho- 
analysis. It was a subject to which he repeatedly returned till he 
evolved a new approach. Here his position is orthodox with some 
hints of critical questioning. He writes : 

The reason why anxiety is such a constant feature of psycho- 
pathological states is that the dreaded danger is of internal origin. 
It has its source in the instinctive endowment of the individual con- 
cerned . . . the libido is ever striving for expression, it thus constitutes 
an ever-present menace (p. 305). 

To this orthodox psycho-analytical view he adds the comment : 

The suggestion may be hazarded that anxiety over an internal 
menace is not necessarily fear of the libido. Fear may be occasioned 


theoretically by any internal tendency which presents itself as a 
menace. Psycho-analytical investigation appears to show, however, 
that, of all the tendencies which constitute the instinctive endow- 
ment of man (the 'id'), those related to the sex-instinct (the 'libido') 
are, as a matter of fact, specially prone to occasion neurotic anxiety. 
Every psycho-analysis of a neurotic patient seems to reveal the 
libido as the danger from which escape is sought by a flight into ill- 
ness. . . . The reason why it is libido from which escape is sought is 
that the libido conflicts with the child's early identifications with 
parents as frustrating figures. As Freud points out in The Ego and 
the Id, this identification of the child with frustrating figures forms 
the nucleus of the psychical organization to which he gives the name 
of 'super-ego'. ... It is because of the conflict between the super-ego 
and the libido that repression is called into being. . . . The super-ego 
may come to constitute a source of danger to the ego . . . the object 
of fear for the neurotic personality. It would thus appear that morbid 
anxiety may be determined not only by the menace of the libido, but 
also by the menace of the super-ego (p. 306). 

This way of presenting the problem expresses that particular way 
of sensing the realities of the endopsychic situation that ultimately 
led to his resolving the speculative theory of life and death in- 
stincts into a clinically factual statement of two observable factors, 
libidinal and anti-libidinal. The anti-libidinal factor is a turning 
against the self which owns the libidinal needs, and this aggression 
is found to operate in and through what Freud had termed the 
super-ego. Fairbaim mentions here one patient 'in whom the 
super-ego was particularly aggressive' (p. 307). The Freudian 
'reality-ego' fears the upsurge of hbidinal needs because that 
triggers off the internal, anti-libidinal counter-attack. 

In these early papers Fairbaim has a mode of selection, state- 
ment and emphasis in presenting orthodox theory which already 
foreshadows his later views. In the second half of this paper he 
discusses neurotic anxiety in a way which hovers close to internal 
object-relations theory. He criticizes E. Jones for speaking of an 
instinct of fear. Fear is an emotion, and the instinct with whose 
activity it is associated is that of escape. Fairbaim agrees here with 
McDougall's view that the instincts are 'the prime movers of all 
human activity' {Soc. Psych., 12th Ed., p. 38), and adds 'the 
primitive instinctive endowment, which McDougail jx)stulates, [is] 
identical with what Freud describes as "the id" ' (p. 308). But with 
regard to the theory of emotion he prefers Drever's view that the 
affective element in instinctive experience is not one specific in- 
dividual motion to each instinct, but a non-emotional 'instinct- 



interest' which becomes intensified into emotional excitement 
when the instinctive activity is specially obstructed or faciUtated. 
'All affective experience is bipolar (i.e. all affective experience 
finds a place on the pleasure-unpleasure scale)' (p. 310). 'The 
emotional phase of affective experience develops' towards the 
negative pole of unpleasure, sorrow, when the activity of an in- 
stinct is particularly thwarted, and towards the positive pleasure, 
or joy, pole when it is markedly facilitated. In the case of the in- 
stinct of Escape, this means Fear at the negative pole and a Sense 
of Relief at the positive pole. The reason why anxiety is so promi- 
nent in neurosis is that the danger is internal. 'The constant pres- 
ence of a powerful endopsychic menace is certain to lead to 
situations in which the means of escape are inadequate' (p. 312), 
i.e. the 'defence mechanisms' or, as Fairbaim here prefers to call 
them, 'escape mechanisms' fail in the presence of a danger that is 
really inescapable because it is internal. 

At this point Fairbaim falls back on the orthodox view that 
'owing to the fact that the menace proceeds from the innate, in- 
stinctive endowment, final escape is impossible' (p. 313). The 
danger is the libido. If, however, he had followed up the other 
point he had already made, that menace proceeds from the super- 
ego (which is not part of the instinctive endowment but an intern- 
alized version of the child's object-relations with parents), he 
would have been very near stating the view that neurotic anxiety 
is due to an endopsychic situation in which there seems no escape 
for the ego from a menacing, internalized bad-object relationship. 

A paper of 1931 entitled 'Features in the Analysis of a Patient 
with a Physical Genital Abnormality' (1952a, p. 197 ff) closes 
with an imjx)rtant foreshadowing of his later re-formulation of 
the theory of endopsychic structure. The patient's neurosis was 
not caused by her physical genital abnormality which apparently 
involved 'at least the absence of the vagina and uterus' (p. 220), 
but was caused by whatever determined her personality develop- 
ment along the lines of a fierce internal conflict between her 
libidinal needs and a 'titanic super-ego'. 'The dominant figure in 
the home was the patient's mother — an energetic and efficient 
woman, for whom the welfare of her family was all-important. 
She belonged to the type of good mother who is only too liable to 
instigate the formation of an exacting super-ego in her children' 
(p. 2 1 o). The patient's physical abnormality, when she learned of 
it, was simply fitted into this already-existing inner conflict. She 
felt relief at knowing that she could 'not play the normal feminine 
sexual role, and this must have been due to the fact that she felt 
correspondingly freed from persecution by her super-ego over 


sexual activity. Her breakdowns occurred in the period when, as a 
teacher, her super-ego was entirely dominant and she was driving 
herself with undue conscientiousness by perfectionist standards. 
She was living in and through her super-ego all the time, both in 
her attitude to herself and in her discipline of the children she 
taught. Just as she antagonized them, so she unconsciously also 
antagonized her own natural self. As the tempo of inner revolt 
and increased super-ego repression grew greater, exhaustion and 
breakdown became a recurring inevitabihty. 

So far Fairbaim's presentation of this case followed orthodox 
lines. He was not yet influenced by Melanie Klein's concepts about 
'internal objects'. The passage where he writes 'The nucleus of the 
super-ego is pre-genital in origin, belongs to an oral level and must 
therefore become established during the oral stage' (p. 221) arose 
out of his own observations on this case. He uses Freud's scheme 
for the analysis of psychic structure, the id, ego and super-ego. The 
imp>ortance of this paper historically emerges, however, at the end 
where he discusses the patient's strongly marked tendency to 'per- 
sonify various aspects of her psyche' (p. 2 1 6). It is clear that in 
1 93 1, thirteen years before the publication of the paper on 'Endo- 
psychic Structure Considered in Terms of Object-Relationships', 
his independent examination of Freud's tripartite scheme in the 
light of clinical evidence had begun. 

This will best emerge against the background of the diagnosis 
of the case, which Fairbairn presents as an Obsessional Drive to 
duty in her period as a teacher, masking and defending against a 
Manic-Depressive inner situation. This manic-depressive condition 
he sees in terms of a conflict between her libidinal needs and her 
maternal super-ego. Her father was not a particularly significant 
figure, and the two influential adults in her early life were her 
mother and her maternal grandfather. The first phase of her 
analysis brought 'endless memories of early childhood concerned 
mainly with the patient's grandfather and the estate with which 
he was connected . . . endless days of happy play' (p. 205). Fair- 
bairn writes : 

She re-entered the paradise of her childhood, which had become 
all the more elysian through the operation of unconscious phantasy 
during the intervening years. In the background, however, there 
was always the menacing shadow of a mother-figure . . . who seemed 
to stand like a sinister figure in the background, frowning disap- 
proval. In the earliest phase of analysis, however, her super-ego was 
largely in abeyance. It was the happy memories and phantasies of 
childhood that predominated. She was re-united to her grandfather 


in phantasy and played gaily with him in the elysian fields. Re- 
pressed emotional experiences of a libidinal nature thus broke 
through the trammels of the years; and she re-discovered what she 
came to describe as her 'infantile self, which had remained for long 
repressed in her unconscious. This break-through of repressed 
emotional experiences was accompanied by the emergence of sexual 
sensations, which at first appeared to her entirely novel, but which 
eventually revived memories of sensations experienced on swings and 
see-saws in her early days . . . they conformed to the clitoris type 
(p. 205). 

'The sudden release of j>ent-up libido which analysis had effected' 
(pp. 205-6) resulted in her becoming markedly sexually attractive 
to men and led to what she called 'adventures' in her train 
journeys to analysis. Before she worked through this phase, she 
developed for a time somewhat grandiose delusions about pos- 
sessing a capacity to 'affect' people which could be used for the 
benefit of humanity as a whole. A mild manic phase emerged as 
an expression of the break-away of her early libidinal self from 
the oppression of her maternal super-ego. This early libidinal self, 
or what she called her 'infantile self', is clearly what later on Fair- 
bairn came to designate 'the Libidinal Ego', and in her analysis 
it emerged in more than one 'personification'. 

Over against this 'Hbidinal self in her personality was her 
maternal super-ego frowning upon it. The release of her libidinal 
self led, in the second stage of the analysis, to the appearance of a 
strong oral sadistic attitude to the envied penis, and so in the third 
stage to the parallel emergence of anal and oral elements in her 
suj>er-ego. The dominance of her super-ego always led to a swing 
away from the mild manic libidinal position to depression. We 
may now consider the 'personifications' to which reference has 
been made. These appeared first in her dreams but came to be 
consciously adopted. The two chief were 'the mischievous boy' 
and 'the critic'. Two secondary but important personifications 
were 'the little girl' and 'the martyr'. 'The mischievous boy' was 
pre-adolescent, irresponsible, poked fun at the adults, and was 
regarded by her 'as representing her own childish self ; and end- 
less play seemed to constitute his sole object in life, as was actually 
the position in her own case during childhood' (p. 2 1 6). He repre- 
sented also her penis envy and her mildly maniacal behaviour. 
Opposed to him was 'the critic', 'characteristically represented by 
a serious, formidable, puritanical and aggressive woman of middle 
age . . . who uttered public accusations against the dreamer . . . 
"the critic" was characteristically a figure endowed with maternal 


authority ; and not uncommonly the patient's own actual mother 
played the part without any disguise' (p. 2 1 6-1 7). 

'The litde girl' and 'the martyr' played subordinate roles, but it 
is clear that the 'littie girl', who was constandy pictured at the age 
of five years, antedated 'the mischievous boy' and was a represen- 
tation of 'herself as she would fain have been in childhood — a 
natural, but innocent self, to whom no exception could have been 
taken on the part of the super-ego' (p. 2 1 7). Thus 'the little girl' 
is an earlier or an alternative aspect of her libidinal self as com- 
pared with 'the mischievous boy'. 'The martyr' is obviously this 
same libidinal self under persecution by the super-ego. 

Fairbaim's application of these clinical data to the problem of 
endopsychic structure must have been the beginning of his 
gradually evolved reformulation. He writes : 

The two figures just described were regarded by the patient as 
fundamentally antagonistic; and it is interesting to note from their 
descriptions how closely 'the mischievous boy' and 'the critic' corre- 
spond to the elements in the psyche described by Freud as 'the id' 
and 'the super-ego'. It should be added that there occurred dreams 
in which the 'F of the dream was herself represented as playing the 
part of 'the mischievous boy' and there were also frequent teaching 
dreams, in which the 'I' of the dream always played the part of 'the 
critic'. Usually, however, the dreaming consciousness played the 
part of an independent onlooker, whose sympathies were sometimes 
on the one side, sometimes on the other. The dreams in which these 
personifications figured thus provided the scenes of a moving drama 
in which the leading actors played parts corresponding significantly 
to those ascribed by Freud to the ego, the id and the super-ego in the 
economy of the human mind (p. 2 1 7). 

Fairbaim as yet regards these data as supporting Freud's theory of 
structure, and so indeed in a broad sense they do, but he also 
begins to be aware that it points towards a more complex formu- 
lation. He writes : 

■The conformity between the three leading actors in this patient's 
dreams and Freud's tripartite division of the mind must be regarded 
as providing striking evidence of the practical validity of Freud's 
schemed It must be recorded, however, that the dream-figures so 
far mentioned by no means exhaust the personifications appearing in 
this patient's dream life^. 217). 

He then cites 'the litde girl' and 'the martyr', and though we may 
now recognize them as roles of what he ultimately designated 'the 
Libidinal ego', at that date he wrote : 


Their validity as personifications seemed in no sense inferior to that 
of 'the critic' and 'the mischievous boy'. This fact raises the question 
whether Freud's tripartite division of the mind has not led us to 
regard the ego, the id and the super-ego too much in the light of 

entities It is a question whether any topographical representation 

whatsoever can hope to do justice to all the complexities of mental 
structure (p. 218). 

What is already evident is that, Uke Melanie Klein, Fairbaim now 
saw the mental life of this patient as a veritable 'inner world', a 
drama of a highly personal nature. We are not confronted with 
impersonal 'instincts' and 'mental mechanisms' but with 'personi- 
fications' or 'leading actors' in the scenes of this moving drama, 
corresponding to Freud's ego, id and super-ego. Fairbaim refers 
to Freud's term 'the id' but he does not use it himself. Instead he 

that there occurred dreams in which the T of the dream was herself 
represented as playing the part of 'the mischievous boy' (p. 217). 

In fact he already regards the 'person' represented by the term T 
as the basic underlying reality who operates in turn or even simul- 
taneously through the 'personifications' of 'the critic', 'the mis- 
chievous boy' and the onlooker. Fie is here envisaging the splitting 
of the unitary ego by reason of its operating through difiTering and 
even antagonistic mental structures. Here is the origin of one-half 
of his later theory of endopsychic structure, the ego-structures. 

Moreover, in tacitly abandoning the id-concept by regarding it 
as personal, as an ego-structure, he has already set up his concept 
of 'dynamic structure', which he expresses at this date, 1931, by 
the term 'Functioning structural units'. He writes : 

The data provided by the case under discussion seem to leave no 
doubt about the existence of functioning structural units Correspond- 
ing to the ego, the id, and the super-ego; but the same data seem 
equally to indicate the impossibility of regarding these functioning 
structural units as mental entities. After all, the general tendency of 
modem science is to throw suspicion upon entities; and it was under 
the influence of this tendency that the old 'faculty psychology' 
perished. Perhaps the arrangement of mental phenomena into func- 
tioning structural groups is the most that can be attempted by psycho- 
logical science. [Present writer's italics.] At any rate, it would appear 
contrary to the spirit of modern science to confer the status of entity 
upon 'instincts'; and in the light of modem knowledge an instinct 
seems best regarded as a characteristic dynamic pattern of behaviour. 
Similar considerations apply to Freud's tripartite division of the 


mind — ^which must accordingly be taken to represent a characteristic 
functional grouping of structural elements in the psyche. That the 
ego, the id and the super-ego do represent characteristic functioning 
structural units seems to be indicated by the facts of the case before 
us; but the facts of the case also indicate the possibility of other 
functioning structural units arising (p. 218). 

The fact that a different and more 'personal' type of thinking than 
that of Freud's is at work here, is evident from the complete ab- 
sence of any reference to 'the pleasure principle' in what Fairbaim 
says about 'the mischievous boy'. 

Fairbairn does not regard this point of view as applicable simply 
to the case in hand, but as representing something that is uni- 
versally valid in the analysis of the human psyche. After consider- 
ing the phenomena of multiple personality, he says : 

It would also appear that multiple personality is a product of the 
same processes of differentiation which lead to the isolation of the 
ego, the id and the super-ego. Evidence of the differentiation of these 
structures is found so constantly in analytical work that their 
presence must be regarded, not only as characteristic, but as com- 
patible with normality. It must be recognized, however, that the 
differentiation of the id and the super-ego from the ego achieves its 
maximum expression in abnormal individuals; and the question 
arises how far these structures would be capable of isolation at all in 
the theoretical case of a completely integrated personality, whose 
development had proceeded without any hitch (p. 219). 

Here, again, is the essence of Fairbaim's later and ultimate view 
that the human psyche begins as a pristine, personal, unitary ego, 
and that, contrary to the view of Freud that the ego is a superficial 
phenomenon differentiated out from the id, the id (or libidinal self) 
and the super-ego are differentiated out from the primary ego as 
a result of disturbed development. This paper really laid down the 
concepts of dynamic structure, ego-splitting and the existence of 
ego-structures in a basically personal psyche. 

A paper on 'Medico-Psychological Aspects of the Problem of 
Child Assault' {Mental Hygiene, No. 13, April 1935) only concerns 
us in that it presents the orthodox Freudian social psychology of 
instinct versus repression as the key to culture. 

Civilization is a complicated and precarious mechanism for con- 
trolling man's various instinctive tendencies — particularly, perhaps, 
those of sex and aggression (two tendencies which come to simul- 
taneous expression in the act of sexual assault). These instinctive 
tendencies, if allowed uncontrolled expression, would of course 


render social life as we understand it quite impossible ; and it is only 
through the operation of inhibition and repression — mental agencies 
which function as barriers to the natural expression of instinctive 
impulses — that social redirection of these impulses can possibly 
occur. Part of the price we have to pay for the advantages of living 
in a civilized society is our constant exposure to the risk of a break- 
down of repression, accompanied by a breakthrough of primitive 
impulses in the case of either social groups or individuals. When such 
a breakthrough occurs in the case of an individual, society regards 
him as a criminal; and he becomes a criminal either (a) because 
character-formation has been so weak and repression so inadequate 
as to leave the primitive tendencies insufficiently tempered, or 
(b) because repression has been so excessive as to deny all expression 
to primitive impulses until they reach a state of explosive tension. 
{Op. cit., pp. 65-6.) 

Fairbairn was by this time, however, approaching the period of 
Melanie Klein's decisive influence. He came to see that the theory 
of antisocial instincts was misleading, and failed to explain the 
excitement and frustration that goes on in a vicious circle in the 
inner world of internal bad-object relationships. 

4. The 'Kleinian' Period 

From 1934 to 1939 the influence of Melanie Klein became a 
dominant factor. Fairbairn recalls (in a personal communication) 
the great impression made on him by her 1934 paper on manic- 
depressive problems. Her work brought home to him, as it did to 
many others, the tremendous part played from earliest infancy by 
aggression, and it also brought to him concepts of internalized 
objects that matched his already conceived view of the split ego 
forming distinguishable 'ego-structures'. While this 'inner world' 
psychology helped the development of his own distinctive point of 
view, the emphasis on aggression in some respects held him back, 
since it compelled him to grapple with aggression in the particular 
form in which Melanie Klein presented it, as an innate, instinctive 
factor, the death instinct, a view that militated against an 'internal 
objects' psychology. In every paper between 1934 and 1940 the 
subject of aggression stands in the forefront. The period begins 
with two papers written in 1934 and 1936 on 'Communism' {Brit. 
J. Med. Psych., Vol. XV, Pt. 3, 1935, and Edin. Med. J., Vol. 
XLIV, p. 433, 1937), both covered by the paper on the subject 
included in Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality (p. 233). 
Fairbairn's approach was determined by Freud's 'demonstration 


of the part played by aggression no less than libido within the 
economy of the individual mind' (p. 233), and his 'ego-ideal' or 
'super-ego' theory according to which 'external social agencies 
[are] organized into an internal psychical structure' (p. 233). Thus 
he later states his view that 'all sociological problems are ultimately 
reducible to problems of individual psychology . . . "group psy- 
chology" must be regarded as essentially the psychology of the 
individual in a group' (p. 241). This is not an attempt to under- 
cut 'social psychology' but rather an expression of the fact that all 
psychology is both individual and social. The individual and his 
objects — ^i.e. his human environment — are the two inseparable 
elements in object-relationship. 

The paper, 'The Effect of a King's Death Upon Patients 
Undergoing Analysis' (1936, see 1952a, pp. 223-9) takes the defi- 
nite step of including the internal-object structures of Melanie 
Klein's theory in addition to the ego-structures of his own 1931 
paper. Here for the first time Fairbaim quotes Mrs. Klein directly. 
The three patients he referred to were all characterized by marked 
oral sadism and strong tendencies to oral incorporation. Of one of 
them, Fairbaim writes : 

He felt as if a war were being waged inside him and sensed the 
presence of some antagonistic and dangerous force at work within 
his body. ... It was evident that the war inside him was a war 
between his own oral-sadistic ego and an internalized father-figure, 
whom he had endowed with oral-sadistic attributes. The King's 
death represented a consummation of his oral-sadistic designs against 
his father, whose incorporation became responsible for his sense of a 
destructive force within. {Ibid., p. 225.) 

Of a second patient, who had a dream representing the wholesale 
destruction of his entire family, Fairbaim writes : 

The act of destruction was really an act of oral-sadistic incorpora- 
tion — an act, moreover, involving mortal danger to the patient 
himself. The anxiety-symptoms precipitated by the King's death 
would thus appear to have been mainly due to the dangerous quali- 
ties with which the patient had endowed the internalized object. 
{Ibid., 224.) 

He describes the third patient as 'intemalizing the libidinal object 
in order to save the real person from being destroyed by oral- 
sadistic impulses'. {Ibid., p. 225.) Comparing this with attacks of 
depression after the death of a real person (the patient's brother 
and also the King), he says : 


Perhaps the truth lies in Melanie Klein's statement that every 
experience which suggests the loss of the real loved object stimulates 
the dread of losing the internalized object too. (Ibid., p. 229.) 

In 1937 he contributed a paper to The Liverpool Quarterly 
(Vol. 5, Jan., No. i) entitled 'Arms and the Child'. It shows that 
although the concepts of internal object-relations psychology were 
becoming his real tools of psychodynamic thinking, Fairbaim 
was still held back by the earlier tie to instinct theory. He writes : 

The ultimate source of war lies in the incorrigible aggression of 
mankind. The truth is that the hereditary endowment of man in- 
cludes powerful aggressive instincts which, being hereditary, are for 
all practical purposes incapable of modification (p. 28). 

The study of functional nervous and mental disorders has pro- 
vided us with evidence to show that the aggressive instincts are 
profound biological urges which surge up inside human beings and 
seek expression in destructive behaviour. Worse than that, there is 
evidence to show that these destructive urges are present in the child 
from birth (pp. 28-9). 

Since the child is bom with aggressive instincts which demand 
expression, the ultimate source of war can never be removed (p. 29). 

Knowing his later work, it seems strange to read such words from 
Fairbaim's pen, words almost identical with those quoted in 
chapter V from Marie Bonaparte in their Freudian fatalism. The 
strong emphasis on aggression as an instinctive phenomenon that 
characterizes Fairbaim at this period shows the influence of 
Melanie Klein as clearly as does his adoption of 'internal objects' 
terminology. His writings from 1934-9 show an increasing stress 
on aggression as the pathogenic factor, and from 1936 in Mrs. 
Klein's own ttrms, and Freud's, of an innate, instinctive drive. He 
only does not adopt the idea of the death instinct. But after 1 940 
Fairbaim, without losing sight of aggression, began to take up 
again his own earlier, and Freud's original, emphasis on the 
primacy of libido. 

In 1938, Fairbaim's two papers on Art, though not widely 
known, must rank as the first of his papers of outstanding origin- 
ality. They belong, however, to the psychology of aesthetics rather 
than to psychodynamic theory, and we are only concerned with 
them in that they show the deepening influence of Melanie Klein. 
In the first paper, 'Prolegomena to a Psychology of Art' (1938a), 
he described the super-ego in Kleinian terms, thus : 'The replace- 
ment of external by internal objects has been shown by Freud to 
constitute the essence of super-ego formation' (p. 303). Through- 


out the paper he uses Mrs. Klein's theory of Restitution to explain 
creative art. He regards the artist as expressing the deep springs 
of human emotion, and as drawing therefore on the repressed, 
deep-level phantasy life of the imconscious. 

It is to deal with the anxiety and guilt engendered by destructive 
phantasies regarding love-objects that repression is originally in- 
stituted in childhood; and it is owing to the persistence of such 
phantasies in the unconscious that it is maintained in adult life. 
{Ibid., p. 296.) 

Art relieves repression by giving symbolic expression to both the 
libidinal and destructive elements in the unconscious phantasies. 
He goes on to remark : 

No investigator has done more to enlighten us regarding the 
prevalence and strength of destructive phantasies in the unconscious 
than Melanie Klein; but Melanie Klein has also shown that these 
destructive phantasies are characteristically accompanied by com- 
pensatory phantasies of restitution. These phantasies of restitution 
arise as a means of alleviating the guilt and anxiety engendered by 
destructive phantasies. {Ibid., p. 297.) 

Thus the destructive phantasies must be cancelled under super-ego 
pressiue by restitutive phantasies, and the work of art presents in 
varying degrees the 'broken object' made whole again. 

In the second paper, 'The Ultimate Basis of Aesthetic Experi- 
ence' (1938b), he continues this line of thought, illustrating it by 
reference to the Surrealist theory that the work of art is a 'found 
object' which the artist so frames as to bring out the significance 
he sees in it. This object, however, reveals itself to be also a 'restored 
object' according to Fairbaim. In over-formalized art, the restitu- 
tive drive has eliminated too much of the experience (9f the destruc- 
tive drives by over-symbolization. In Surrealist art the opposite 
tends to be true, the destructive drives break through too nakedly 
because of under-symbolization, and the needed restitution is not 

'Psychology as a Proscribed and as a Prescribed Subject' was a 
paper read at St. Andrews University Philosophical Society in 
1939, and published in Psychoanalytic Studies of the Personality 
in 1952. It is a discussion of the reasons why psycho-analysis is not 
taught at Universities. So far as theory is concerned it contains 
further evidence that, in this period, Fairbaim was very much in 
the process of digesting Melanie Klein's primary emphasis on 
aggression, and innate aggression at that, as the pathogenic factor 
in neurosis. He writes : 


In the earlier days of psycho-analysis, when repression of sexual 
wishes was the phenomenon upon which attention was almost ex- 
clusively focussed, it appeared as if it were the presence of repressed 
sexual tendencies that men sought above all to deny. In the light of 
further investigation, however, it has become evident that what man 
seeks to deny more unreservedly is the intensity of his own aggres- 
sion, and his attempts to deny the extent of his own sexuality is in 
no small measure due to the association of his sexual tendencies 
with aggressive attitudes on his part. It would thus appear that the 
exclusion of psycho-analytical theory from the academic curriculum 
represents an attempt to keep the veil drawn over a side of human 
nature which is the occasion, not only of guilt in the individual, but 
also of a taboo on the part of society. (1952a, pp. 250-1.) 

The paper, 'The Psychological Factor in Sexual Delinquency' 
{Mental Hygiene, April, 1939), contadns a distinction between the 
sexual and reproductive (i.e. genital) functions that reminds one 
of the distinction Fairbaim made earlier between the sensuous and 
the sexual. There, 'sensuous' concerned appetitive needs in general 
and sexual stood for genital drives. Here he employs the character- 
istic Freudian terminology, using 'sexual' as the wider term to 
include all appetitive and bodily needs and sensuous gratifications, 
while still separating out the 'genital' by means of the term 'repro- 
ductive functions'. He comments : 'It was Freud who first pointed 
out the real significance of such sexual activities as have no repro- 
ductive aim' (p. 2). The real distinction underlying both ways of 
stating it, is that between 'personal needs' expressed by means of 
the body in general, and the more narrowly defined sexual or 
genital needs. This distinction was important for Fairbaim's later 
views. In this paper he adopted the Kleinian distinction and ter- 
minology of 'part-objects' or organs, and 'whole-objects' or per- 
sons, and he stresses again the intimate connection between sex 
and aggression. Finally, he not only employs the Kleinian concept 
of the 'internal object' but in stressing the repression of the super- 
ego he foreshadows his later theory that it is internal objects rather 
than impulses that are primarily repressed. 

Roughly one may say that the 1 930s were for Fairbaim a decade 
of the conflict of old and new ideas, while the 1940s were the 
creative period of the working out of the object-relations theory 
of the personality. In the 1950s his attention has been turned more 
and more to the application of his theoretical views in the field of 
psychotherapy. It would seem that in 1939 the traditional Freud- 
ian instinct-theory fought a last rearguard action in his thinking, 
in the paper 'Is Aggression an Irreducible Factor?' {Brit. J. Med. 


Psych., Vol. XVIII, Pt. 2, pp. 163-70, 1939.) It is a clear state- 
ment of orthodox Freudian instinct-theory, and reads strangely 
in the light of the 1931 paper of eight years earlier. He then called 
for a psychology, not of mental entities of the type of instincts, but 
of the arrangement of mental phenomena into functioning struc- 
tural groups ; and he regarded 'an instinct' simply as a 'character- 
istic dynamic pattern of behaviour'. Now, he concluded the 1939 
article with the view that mitigating frustrations 'offers no pros- 
pects of exercising any influence upon primary aggression, which 
represents a fundamental and inborn instinctive tendency in 
human nature' (p. 120). This paper, however, is valuable in that 
it shows how firmly rooted in Freudian orthodoxy Fairbaim was 
at first, and how slow and cautious he was in abandoning it under 
the pressure of new ideas. He seems here to be making a sj>ecific 
effort to cast up accounts with Freud's views on instinct, especially 
in the form presented by Melanie Klein, stating them as clearly 
and arguing for them as powerfully as possible. 

He compares the instinct theories of McDougall, Drever and 
Freud, before turning finally to consider the work of Melanie Klein 
on aggression. For McDougall an instinct is a 'reactive tendency ; 
i.e. a characteristic mode of response to more or less specific situa- 
tions'. Drever recognized a further group of instincts which he 
described as 'appetitive tendencies', aiming at the relief of internal 
biological tensions. Fairbaim observes that in psycho-analytical 
theory 'no place is found for "reactive tendencies" in the strict 
sense' (p. 164). 

The two groups of instincts recognized in (Freud's) final formula- 
tion are (i) the life instincts comprehensively designated as 'the 
libido', and (2) the death instincts or destructive instincts. ... In 
recent years . . . there has been a tendency among psycho-analysts, 
particularly those of the British school, to regard aggression as the 
primary psychological manifestation of the death instincts (pp. 

In 1946 Mrs. Klein expressed the view that Fairbaim 'underrated 
the role which aggression and hatred play from the beginning of 
life'. (1952, p. 295.) She could hardly have made that criticism if 
she had read or remembered this article from 1934-9. Referring 
to the treatment of aggression as a manifestation of the death in- 
stincts, and in plain reference to her work, he wrote : 

This view is in part determined by the psychotherapeutic neces- 
sities arising out of the consideration that the psychoneuroses and 
psychoses represent the expression of death-impulses. Nevertheless it 


finds therapeutic support, not only in the deep analysis of the adult, 
but also in the analysis of children. Undoubtedly, the most remark- 
able, if also the most disconcerting, finding of psycho-analysis in re- 
cent years is the enormous part played by aggression in infancy and 
childhood. The disposal of aggression is the chief problem which the 
child is called upon to face in the course of his emotional develop- 
ment; and it is largely by the direction of aggression inwards that 
a solution of the problem is attempted. ... It has thus the effect of 
obscuring the part played by aggression in human affairs (p. 165). 

Fairbaim proceeds to treat aggression, as did Freud and Mrs. 
Klein, as an innate factor which is on the same footing in all re- 
sjjects as libido. It is regarded by psycho-analysis, not on the 
pattern of McDougall's 'reactive tendencies' but more on the 
pattern of Drever's 'appetitive tendencies'. From this point on, 
however, it begins to be clear that two different principles of ex- 
planation are competing in Fairbaim's mind for the right to 
explain the persistence of aggression in human nature, the prin- 
ciple of innate instinct and the principle of internal object-rela- 
tions. The issue is not decided in this paper, for he had not yet 
moved beyond Mrs. Klein's own position, which was to retain 
both without recognizing any inconsistency. 

This problem emerges in the consideration of phantasies, of 
which he here observes that they are 'phenomena which are left 
almost entirely out of account by the psychology of the reactive 
tendencies' (p. 1 66). That is because they cannot be accounted for 
as reactions to direct external stimuli, but psycho-analysis accounts 
for them by reference to internal causes which, for orthodox 
psycho-analysis, could only mean instincts. They 'represent an 
exploitation of experiential data for the satisfaction of inner needs 
. . . and they can only be satisfactorily interpreted as the product 
of internal tensions created by the pressure of biological drives' 

(p. 166). 

Although at this date Fairbaim was familiar with the Kleinian 
concepts of internal object-relations, he does not, any more than 
Melanie Klein herself, yet raise the question of whether they pro- 
vide an alternative explanation to the problem of 'internal 
stimulus'. Restated that : 

Considered from the psycho-analytical standpoint . . . the instincts 
are fundamental biological drives or urges. . . . The 'reactive ten- 
dencies' described by such psychologists as McDougall are thus 
simply common patterns in the manifestation of the primary instinc- 
tive urges, and not in any sense irreducible instinctive tendencies 
themselves. . . . What is significant, therefore, is not the pattern of 



the behaviour itself, but the extent to which the primary instinctive 
drives are represented in it (pp. 166-7). 

He rejected Jung's attempt to reduce aggression to a manifestation 
of Hbido and held that 'There is no alternative but to regard aggres- 
sion as a primary instinctive tendency, and therefore as an irre- 
ducible factor in the economy of human nature' (p. 168). This 
acceptance of aggression and libido as innate drives, mental entities 
of the same type, existing prior to experience and specific be- 
haviour patterns, is surprising considering that he had repudiated 
this view in 193 1 in favour of what was really the dynamic-struc- 
ture view of the psyche, with instinct as simply a 'characteristic 
dynamic pattern of behaviour'. The reason, however, is clear. 
Melanie Klein had not pursued her work upon internal object- 
relations to the point of realizing that they represented dynamic 
structural phenomena which accounted for the persistent internal 
arousal of aggression as a reaction to persistent internal frustra- 
tion of all libidinal aims, without calling in the idea of aggression 
as an innate drive. Nor had Fairbaim yet reached the point of 
recognizing that, so for the moment he had to fall back on instinct 
theory. It is probable that there was also a personal reason for this 
last, and major attempt to come to terms with the orthodox theory. 
It was common knowledge among Fairbaim's associates that, 
during the five years or so preceding the writing of this paper, he 
had become the target of considerable personal hostility in psy- 
chological and psychiatric circles in Edinburgh on account of his 
connection with the psycho-analytical movement. Thus he knew 
from his own experience what Freud himself had to face. This 
may well have led him, in a paper read at a meeting of the British 
Psychological Society held in Scotland, to defend accepted psycho- 
analytical views of which he was already becoming critical. In 
due course he was to reach the position that internal tensions are 
always the tension of object-seeking drives, which does away with 
the difference between appetitive and reactive tendencies. Innate 
needs and reaction to libidinal objects are parts of one whole, but 
aggression can now take a secondary place as simply a reaction to 
the frustration of libidinal needs, and not a permanent drive or 
mental entity per se. In fact, aggression is intensified self-assertion 
in face of some danger. When Fairbaim writes, in this paper, that 
'as the individual develops, ... it is found that his thoughts and 
behaviour continue to be influenced at the unconscious, if not at 
the conscious, level by phantasies persisting from his early child- 
hood' (p. 1 66), one can see that sooner or later his earlier critical 
ideas about instincts and his acceptance of the Kleinian view of 



the 'inner world' and of 'internal object-relations' would come to- 
gether to produce a new view of both internal stimulation and of 
endopsychic structure. The following year, 1 940, saw the writing 
of the first paper that ranks as part of his reformulation of psycho- 
analytical theory. 

Chapter XIV 



We have seen in Fairbairn's early writings the signs of a par- 
ticular point of view, implicit in his emphasis on object-relations 
rather than instincts, and becoming explicit in his development 
of a concept of endopsychic structure based on ego-splitting as 
a result of object-relations in infancy. The development of this 
ix)int of view was hindered by the need to deal with the problem 
of aggression. He needed Mrs. Klein's concepts of the 'internal 
object' and the 'inner world' to complete his own concepts of ^o- 
splitting in such a way as to make possible a full theory of endo- 
psychic structure in terms of internal object-relations, i.e. a psycho- 
dynamic theory of the personality that would be genuinely 
'personal'. The issues, however, were obscured by the fact that 
aggression was presented, by both Freud and Mrs. Klein, as a 
problem of instinct, as an innate drive in the same sense as libido. 
A sharp intellectual conflict must have developed as a result of 
the struggle to reconcile 'Instinct psychology' and 'Internal-objects 
psychology', and it was borne in ufHDn him that this was an im- 
possibility. At the same time his attention was more and more 
arrested by the deep psychopathological significance of schizoid 
processes. These two factors coinciding in his thought about 1 939— 
40 cleared the ground for an outburst of original and creative 
thinking. In five papers from 1940 to 1944 (see 1952a, p. i) he 
achieved a far-reaching reformulation of the main body of 
psycho-analytic theory which changes it from a psychobiology 
based on the instinct-concept, into a truly psychodynamic theory 
of the development of the personality in and through the medium 
of p>ersonal object-relationships : (i) 'Schizoid Factors in the Per- 
sonaUty', 1 940, a primarily clinical paper which was unfortunately 
not published at the time ; (2) 'A Revised Psychopathology of the 


Psychoses and Psychoneuroses', 1941 (Int. J. Psych-An.^ Vol. 
XXII, Pts. 3 and 4); (3) 'The Repression and Return of Bad 
Objects', 1943 {Brit, J. Med. Psych., Vol. XIX, Pts. 3 and 4) ; (4) 
'The War Neuroses, Their Nature and Significance', 1943, then 
published, again unfortunately, only in a much abbreviated form 
in the British Medical Journal, 1 3 Feb., 1 943 ; a clinical paper ; 
(5) 'Endopsychic Structure Considered in Terms of Object-Rela- 
tionships', 1944 {Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol. XXV, Pts. i and 2). It 
was an unhappy circumstance, first that the two clinical papers, 
which were essential to support the three theoretical ones, were 
not available to readers, and second that the entire body of 
material was produced in wartime when there was so much to 
distract people from calm thought. 

The change of theme and atmosphere from the 1938-9 papers 
to 'Schizoid Factors in the Personality' in 1 940 is striking. One is 
suddenly in a new world of thought and clinical orientation, yet 
it is one which links with the Fairbaim of 1927-31 whose first 
paper concerned a patient whose hysterical symptoms masked 'a 
more profound disturbance of a definitely schizoid nature'. (1952a, 
p. 183.) Fairbaim explicitly attributes his theoretical reconstruc- 
tion of this period to the influence of his study of schizoid prob- 
lems. In 1 944 he wrote : 'It is the schizoid position that constitutes 
the basis of the theory of mental structure which I now advance.' 
{Ibid., p. 1 07.) In 1 941 he had stated more fully : 

Within recent years I have become increasingly interested in the 
problems presented by patients displaying schizoid tendencies. . . . 
The result has been the emergence of a point of view which, if it 
proves to be well-founded, must necessarily have far-reaching impli- 
cations both for psychiatry in general and for psycho-analysis in 
particular. My various findings and the conclusions to which they 
lead involve not only a considerable revision of prevailing ideas re- 
garding the nature and aetiology of schizoid conditions, but also a 
considerable revision of ideas regarding the prevalence of schizoid 
processes and a corresponding change in current clinical conceptions 
of the various psychoneuroses and psychoses. My findings and con- 
clusions also involve a recasting and reorientation of the libido 
theory, together with a modification of various classical psycho- 
analytical concepts. {Ibid., p. 28.) 

The classic concepts affected were those of instinct, motivation, 
repression and endopsychic structure, resulting in a psycho- 
dynamic theory that parted company with the earlier Freud, but 
carried to fruition the work of Freud from 1920—6 and the work 


of Melanie Klein. Of the originality of this achievement, Ernest 
Jones has written thus : 

Dr. Fairbaim's position in the field of psycho-analysis is a special 
one and one of great interest. . . . Dr. Fairbaim's originality is indis- 
putable. ... If it were possible to condense Dr. Fairbaim's new ideas 
into one sentence, it might run somewhat as follows. Instead of start- 
ing, as Freud did, from stimulation of the nervous system proceed- 
ing from excitation of various erotogenous zones and internal ten- 
sion arising from gonadic activity. Dr. Fairbaim starts at the centre 
of the personality, the ego, and depicts its strivings and difficulties 
in its endeavour to reach an object where it may find support ... a 
fresh approach in psycho-analysis. (Foreword to Fairhairn, 1952a, 

With Fairbaim psycho-analysis ceases to be a psychobiology of 
the organism with an ego-psychology tacked on, and becomes a 
psychodynamic theory of the person developing and fulfilling 
himself or being frustrated in his personal object-relationships. It 
was the schizoid problem that convinced him that this was the true 
and proper approach to man. It was a patient under treatment in 
1939 who brought his latent insights to a head and whom he 
quoted in 1946. He wrote : 

The ultimate principle from which the whole of my special views 
are derived may be formulated in the general proposition that libido 
is not primarily pleasure-seeking, but object-seeking. The clinical 
material on which this proposition is based may be summarized in 
the protesting cry of a patient to this effect — 'You're always talking 
about my wanting this and that desire satisfied; but what I really 
want is a father.' It was reflection upon the implications of such 
phenomena as this that formed the real starting-point of my present 
line of thought. [Ibid., p. 137.) 

The subject of schizoid phenomena itself involved a departure 
from Melanie Klein, whose main emphases were then on aggres- 
sion and depression and for whom the fundamental position in 
psychic development was the depressive position. Fairbaim, having 
taken meanwhile too complete an account of aggression to be in 
danger of overlooking its importance, here moves back to the 
original Freudian emphasis on hbido. Mrs. Klein's main interest 
in oral phenomena lay in the fact of their being to such a remark- 
able extent sadistic, which she explained as due to the death in- 
stinct in the end. Fairbaim came to the conclusion that this was 
a secondary phenomenon, that aggression was a reaction to the 
frustration of libidinal needs, and his attention was centred on 


the fact that this sadism was basically oral (even when later dis- 
guised as anal and genital) and represented not a death instinct 
but the infant's angry disturbance in the face of deprivation and 
lack of satisfaction of his need to 'take in' from the mother. Thus 
he moves back from Freud's later preoccupation with Obsessional 
Neurosis and Depression to his earlier stress on Hysteria, and be- 
neath that to the schizoid problem of the earliest oral phase. 

I . The Rejection of Biological Psychology 

Fairbaim holds that intellectual disciplines ought to be kept 
separate and not mixed together in ways that confuse their re- 
spective concepts. Let physiology be physiology, and biology be 
biology, and let psychology be a true psychology and not an 
attempt to reduce psychic phenomena to some supposed lower 
denominator thought to be had in conmion with phenomena of 
quite different kinds. Psycho-analysis ought to deal with psycho- 
dynamic events, the activities of the personality as such, and its 
fate in normal or abnormal development of the psychic self. Its 
basic potentialities and primary needs are given in its biological 
inheritance and psycho-analysis must take this innate or 'instinc- 
tive' factor as its starting-point, and then trace out how the per- 
sonality as we know it in the child and the adult comes about. 
Thus Fairbaim's theory is one of the developmental psycho- 
genesis of personality stnicture in terms of the object-relationships 
that are the primary causes of internal psychic differentiations. It 
is an ego-psychology, but the ego is not the superficial, adaptive 
ego of Freud (or of H. S. Sullivan) formed on the surface of a 
hypothetical impersonal id as its adjustment to outer reality. 
Fairbaim's 'ego' is the primary psychic self in its original whole- 
ness, a whole which differentiates into organized structural pat- 
terns imder the impact of experience of object-relationships after 
birth. It is not a synthetic whole whose patterns are put together 
mosaic-wise by the integration of separate and at first unrelated 
ego-nuclei. He writes : 

(i)The pristine personality of the child consists of a unitary 
dynamic ego. 

(2) The first defence adopted by the original ego to deal with an 
unsatisfying personal relationship is mental internalization, or 
introjection, of the unsatisfying object. (1954, p. 107.) 

From that starting-point the original unitary psyche goes on 
developing in complex ways, and in varying degrees loses its 
unitary nature. It undergoes processes of ego-spHtting in which its 


conflicts take on a relatively j>ermanent, internal, structural form. 
But Fairbaim does not regard his ego-structures, or Melanie 
KJein's 'object-structures', as drawing their energy from some 
separate and unorganized source. Every part of the complex, 
total structural pattern of the personality is a developed aspect of 
the original 'unitary dynamic ego', and is endowed with its own 
inherent energy. Structure and energy do not represent the ego 
versus psychobiological instinct; they are simply distinguishable 
but not separable aspects of the active and organized psychic self. 
Fairbairn's criticism of Freud's instinct-theory arises over this 
fundamental issue. He writes : 

I had already become very much impressed by the limitations of 
^impulse psychology' in general, and somewhat sceptical of the ex- 
planatory value of all theories of instinct in which the instincts are 
treated as existing per se. . . . 'Impulses' cannot be considered apart 
from the endopsychic structures which they energize and the ob- 
ject-relationships which they enable these structures to establish; 
and, equally, 'instincts' cannot profitably be considered as anything 
more than forms of energy which constitute the dynamic of such 
endopsychic structures. (1952a, pp. 84-5.) 

If 'impulses ' cannot be considered apart from objects, whether ex- 
ternal or internal, it is equally impossible to consider them apart 
from ego-structures. . . . 'Impulses' are but the dynamic aspects of 
endopsychic structures, and cannot be said to exist in the absence of 
such structures. . . . Ultimately, 'impulses' must be simply regarded 
as constituting the forms of activity in which the life of ego-struc- 
tures consists. {Op. cit.y p. 88.) 

Thus ten years before the work of Colby, Fairbaim discards 
Freud's divorce of energy and structure, involved in differentiat- 
ing between an id as the source of instinctive energies and an ego 
as the organized structure of controls. He proposes instead a theory 
of dynamic structure in which energy and structure are not treated 
as separate factors, but 'instincts' are the 'forms of energy', and 
' impulses' are the 'forms of activity' which 'constitute the dynamic 
of endopsychic structures'. This theory avoids the now outmoded 
'atomistic' type of theory. He writes : 

The conception of erotogenic zones is based upon an atomic or 
molecular conception of the organism — the conception that the or- 
ganism is initially a conglomeration of separate entities, which can 
only become related and integrated as a result of a process of devel- 
opment. Within the functional sphere, a corresponding atomism has 
given rise to a tendency to describe dynamic processes in terms of 


isolated impulses and isolated instincts. It has led to the common 
practice of hypostatizing 'libido' by endowing it with the definite 
article, and describing it as ^the libido'. . . . Such atomism seems to 
me a legacy of the past quite alien to modem biological conceptions, 
in accordance with which the organism is regarded as functioning as 
a whole from the start. {Op. cit., pp. 138-9.) 

After noting that Freud's divorce of energy and structure arose 
out of his Helmholtzian atomistic physics, he adds : 

So far as psycho-analysis is concerned, one of the unfortunate re- 
sults of the divorce of energy from structure is that, in its dynamic 
aspects, psycho-analytical theory has been unduly permeated by 
conceptions of hypothetical 'impulses' and 'instincts' which bom- 
bard passive structures. . . . From the standpoint of dynamic struc- 
ture, 'instinct' is not the stimulus to psychic activity, but itself con- 
sists in characteristic activity on the part of a psychical structure. 
Similarly 'impulse' is not, so to speak, a kick in the pants adminis- 
tered out of the blue to a surprised, and perhaps somewhat pained, 
ego, but a psychical structure in action — a psychical structure doing 
something to something or somebody. {Op. cit., p. 150.) 

Thus Fairbaim envisages 

A replacement of the outmoded impulse psychology, which, once 
adopted, Freud had never seen fit to abandon, by a new psychology 
of dynamic structure, 

in which instincts as mental entities are discarded and 

the instinctive endowment of mankind only assumes the form of 
general trends which require experience to enable them to acquire 
a more differentiated and rigid pattern. {Op. cit., p. 157.) 

Nor are the differentiated dynamic structures to be hypostatized 
either. He refers to 

The impossibility of regarding these functioning structural units 
as mental entities. After all, the general tendency of modern science 
is to throw suspicion upon entities ; and it was under the influence of 
this tendency that the old 'faculty psychology' perished. Perhaps 
the arrangement of mental phenomena into functioning structural 
groups is the most that can he attempted by psychological science. 
[Present writer's italics.] At any rate, it would appear contrary to the 
spirit of modem science, to confer the status of entity upon 'in- 
stincts' ; and in the light of modem knowledge an instinct seems best 
regarded as a characteristic dynamic pattern of behaviour. {Op. cit., 
p. 218.) 


The concepts of modem physics may still provide us with a 
starting-pK>int in the hypothesis that reality as we experience and 
perceive it consists, not of particles of immutable matter operated 
on by a separate energy, but of events the material, spatial and 
temporal nature of which for our perception are relative to our 
position and motion as observers. In the 'event' structure and 
energy appear not as separate 'things' but as logically distinguish- 
able asj>ects of one whole which is at once organized and active, 
a happening rather than a thing. This may be set forth in terms 
of 'processes' but either way it forms a much more helpful start- 
ing-point for psychology, provided we make the initial distinction 
between impersonal events or processes and personal events or 
processes. The distinction is a fact of observation and is the datum 
from which we start. 

2. The Schizoid Problem and Object-Relations 

As we have seen, it was schizoid problems that finally forced 
Fairbairn to abandon physiological and biological psychology in 
favour of a personal and structural theory of a whole ego divided 
by its relationships with internal objects. Schizoid problems forced 
themselves on his notice, not as problems of the control of instincts 
but as pre-eminently problems of the need for good-object rela- 
tionships, and of the desperate struggle to achieve good-object re- 
lationships in the face of acute internal difficulties. Schizoid Factors 
in the Personality, 1940 (1952, pp. 3-27), is a clinical study of 
great importance. He shows the essential characteristics of the 
schizoid condition to consist structurally in an early splitting of 
the ego, aetiologically in a reaction of intense oral sadistic libidinal 
need in the face of deprivation of mother-love, dynamically and 
emotionally in a refusal to risk libidinal object-relations in the 
outer world because of the terrifying dangers felt to be involved 
in loving and seeking love, and hence a radical introversion of 
libido to the inner world. 

The tragic dilemma of the schizoid person is that his specially 
intense need of a good love-object is matched by an equally great 
fear of object-relationship, so that his love-hunger is hidden from 
the outer world beneath his mask of detachment, aloofness and 
emotional apathy. His libidinal object-relationships become con- 
fined to his inner world and his dealings with his internalized 
objects. Whereas the depressed person is afraid of harming and 
destroying his love-objects by his hate — i.e. the problem that 
arises in the late oral biting stage — the schizoid person is afraid of 


harming and destroying his love-objects by his love, the deeper 
problem of the early sucking stage, the earliest stage of all. 

To suck at the mother's breast is 'the individual's first way of 
expressing love' (1952, p. 24), and the effect of deprivation is to 
impart 'an aggressive quality to his libidinal need' (p. 24). Intense 
anxiety arises about the danger of sucking out, emptying and 
destroying the breast and then the mother herself. The patient 
referred to on p. 37 expressed this in a general way by saying, 'I 
can't make moderate demands on anyone so I don't make any at 
all.' She would long all day for her husband to come home and as 
soon as she heard him enter she would lose all feeling and desire 
for him, but feel hungry for food instead as a symbolic substitute. 
She would then get a meal and the moment she sat down to eat 
her appetite would vanish, so much so that severe anorexia de- 
veloped. At the same time, however, she would dream of enormous 
me^ that never ended. Clearly, she felt that her needs for love 
just had not to be expressed in action either directly or symbolic- 
ally. Fairbairn writes of the schizoid person : 'He keeps his love 
shut in because he feels that it is too dangerous to release upon his 
objects' (p. 26). As a substitute he sometimes 'becomes subject to 
a compulsion to hate and be hated, while all the time he longs 
deep down to love and be loved' (p. 26). The schizoid person is 
afraid to want, seek, take from or give to objects in outer reality. 
If he gives, he feels he will empty himself and his gift will prove 
harmful ; if he takes, he fears he will empty his love-object ; so he 
cannot risk any kind of Hbidinal object-relation in his outer life. 
His libidinal need can only flow inwards into the cathexis of 
internal objects in his inner world, where he Uves in terror, in 
relationships which are all of a consuming and devouring kind. 

Fairbairn regards the schizoid position as the fundamental 
position in the development of the emotional life of the psyche, 
antedating Mrs. KLlein's depressive position. The problem con- 
cerns so basically the need for good-object relationships at the very 
start of life, that he was constrained to revise the orthodox libido 
theory of ego-development on the basis of object-relations rather 
than on the basis of erotogenic zones, and phases of instinct 
maturation. He is close to the Kleinian point of view in stressing 
the primary unity of the ego, and in carrying object-relations back 
to the very start of post-natal life, though he has expressed these 
principles more explicitly in the context of a coherent theory. On 
the other hand, Melanie Klein's emphasis on the inner world is 
generally felt to carry with it an under-emphasis on environmental 
factors which, in her view, play a very secondary role in com- 
parison with endopsychic processes. Fairbairn, however, is quite 


explicit in viewing the causal starting-point of disturbed develop- 
ments as definitely environmental, while all through childhood 
growth the outer and the inner world are seen by him as inter- 
acting in the closest possible way, each being accorded its full 
reality and influence. 

Thus there emerges from his writing what one may call a major 
aetiological formulation which he repeats and stresses again and 
again : one which was not in any comparable fashion so cleairly 
stated and recognized by other analytical writers. Disturbed 
development results when the mother does not succeed in making 
the child feel she loves him for his own sake and as a person in his 
own right. This, he holds, is at the bottom of all psychopathologi- 
cal processes. Limitations in the mother's personality and her 
emotional conflicts, amounting in some cases to open rejection and 
hate of the baby, though more often to unconscious and over- 
compensated rejection, influence her handling of it to all degrees 
of traumatic seriousness. The tone of voice, the kind of touch, the 
quality of attention and interest, the amount of notice, and the 
total emotional as well as physical adequacy of breast feeding, are 
all expressions of the genuineness or otherwise of the mother's per- 
sonal relationship to the infant. From the moment of birth Fair- 
bairn regards the mother-infant relationship as potentially fully 
personal on both sides, in however primitive and undeveloped a 
way this is as yet felt by the baby. It is the breakdown of genuinely 
personal relations between the mother and the infant that is the 
basic cause of trouble. That is the factor that dominates all other 
and more detailed, particular issues such as oral deprivation, anal 
frustration, genital disapproval, negative and over-critical dis- 
cipline and so on. 

This is a more radically personal formulation than Melanie 
Klein's oral frustration viewed as activating sadistic instincts, for 
the mother who is orally frustrating is usually the one who cannot 
really love her baby. Melanie Klein's way of seeing the problem 
led her to recognize the facts concerning the internalizing of bad 
objects and the creation of 'persecutory anxiety' at this earliest age. 
Fairbaim's way of seeing the facts led him to grasp the total funda- 
mental j>ersonal relationship problem as revealed in the schizoid 
position with its catastrophic threat to the possibility of sustaining 
any object-relations at all. He is here consciously indebted to Mrs. 
Klein for her valuable theory of the depressive position which 
points the way to his own further theory of the schizoid position. 
These concepts worked out by Mrs. Klein and Fairbaim of funda- 
mental, internal, structural psychic positions, which, once formed, 


are operative in every subsequent stage as determinative of per- 
sonality type, are more basic than Freud's theory of the Oedipus 
complex which rather concerns detailed psychic content by means 
of which basic emotional positions can be expressed. We present 
Fairbaim's view in his own words : 

the tendency of those with schizoid characteristics [is] to treat 
libidinal objects as means of satisfying their own requirements rather 
than as persons possessing inherent value; and this is a tendency 
which springs from the persistence of an early orientation towards 
the breast as a partial object. Here it may be remarked that the 
orientation towards partial objects found in individuals displaying 
schizoid features is largely a regressive phenomenon determined by 
unsatisfactory emotional relationships with their parents, and par- 
ticularly their mothers, at a stage in childhood subsequent to the 
early oral stage in which this orientation originates. The type of 
mother who is specially prone to provoke such a regression is the 
mother who fails to convince her child by spontaneous and genuine 
expressions of affection that she herself loves him as a person. Both 
possessive mothers and indifferent mothers fall under this category. 
Worst of all perhaps is the mother who conveys the impression of 
both possessiveness and indifference — e.g. the devoted mother who is 
determined at all costs not to spoil her only son. Failure on the part 
of the mother to convince the child that she really loves him as a 
person renders it difficult for him to sustain an emotional relation- 
ship with her on a personal basis; and the result is that in order to 
simplify the situation, he tends regressively to restore the relation- 
ship to its earlier and simpler form and revive his relationship to his 
mother's breast as a partial object. (1952a, p. 13.) 

The failure of a mother, who would not by observers have been 
regarded as a bad mother in any gross or obvious sense, to give a 
properly personal love-relationship to a daughter is evident in the 
case of a mother who used at times to say to her younger daughter: 
'You don't know how ill I was when I was having you, but I made 
up my mind that it was my duty to go through with it, to give 
your sister a companion.' The patient felt she had never been 
wanted for her own sake, and in fact was always treated in subtle 
ways as if she were there for the family's convenience. These 
subtle attitudes of rejection on the mother's part which are inter- 
woven with all that goes on, form the commonest serious traumatic 
factor. Winnicott puts this very clearly when he pinpoints erratic 
mothering as the bad-object situation par excellence y and describes 
psychosis as an environmental deficiency disease. (1958, p. 246.) 


He writes : Tsychotic illness is related to environmental failure at 
an early stage of the emotional development of the individual.' 
(1958, p. 286.) In his review of Fairbaim's book he wrote : 

Fairbaim's most valuable contribution is the idea that at the root 
of the schizoid personality is this failure on the part of the mother 
to be felt by the infant as loving him in his own right as a person. 


Some mothers fail to satisfy the infant at the breast. But even 
with mothers who were able to offer the baby a good breast, it not 
seldom happens that the mother is unable later to offer him a good 
personality which would enable him steadily to achieve a growing 
capacity for object-relationship on a genuinely personal level. In 
some cases this may be due to the fact that the mother is disturbed 
by the father. The resulting chronic frustration of all the infant's 
expanding needs as a rapidly developing 'person', needs not only 
for tenderness and appropriate, sufficient bodily contact but more 
and more for interest, understanding, supporting encouragement 
for self-expression, proofs given of his being valued and wanted 
for himself — the frustration of these needs drives him back into a 
regressive reinstatement of the early oral sucking attitude, and 
even of the original feeling of identification ; but now intensified 
by deprivation into an angry hunger to devour. The schizoid prob- 
lem is thus set up, for the anxiety felt over this fundamentally 
greedy, consuming, destructive way of feeling basic needs, as a 
craving to incorporate and possess utterly the whole of one's love- 
object, turns into a fear of loving and a withdrawal from effective 
emotional relationship with the outer world. Dealings with the 
outer world at best are carried on in an automatic way with no 
real feeling put into anything, a far commoner condition than true 
depression, and found, as Fairbaim holds, in all people with 
recognizable tendencies to introversion in varying degrees. 

Thus, whatever Fairbairn has to say about endopsychic struc- 
ture and internal object-relations, in furtherance of the work 
begun by Melanie Klein, he keeps it all in close touch with the 
external facts of the child's real-life object-relations as the true 
causes of disturbed development of personality. One does not so 
much get the impression one receives from Kleinian writings, of a 
purely endopsychic process going its own way, and merely helped 
on by outer events which are interpreted, ultimately, in the light 
of an innate conflict of libido and the death instinct. 


3. Theory of Motivation and Developmental Phases 

Fairbaim presents the above aetiological formulation as a 
revised theory of motivation when he writes : 'The ultimate goal 
of libido is the object', and works out 'a theory of development 
based essentially on object-relationships'. (1952a, p. 31.) Schizoid 
problems were decisive in bringing to a definite focus Fairbairn's 
implicit emphasis on and interest in object-relations because the 
schizoid person's major internal frustration is an inhibition by 
acute anxiety of the power to love. The more the need to love is 
frustrated, the more intense does it become and the unhappy 
person oscillates between an overpowering need to find good 
objects and a compulsive flight into detachment from all objects, 
under pressure mainly of the terror of exploiting them to the point 
of destruction ; for the destruction of the love-object feels then to 
involve also the loss of the helplessly dependent ego which is in a 
state of emotional identification with the object. Love-object re- 
lationships are the whole of the problem, and the conflicts over 
them are an intense and devastating drama of need, fear, anger 
and hopelessness. To attempt to account for this by a hedonistic 
theory of motivation, namely that the person is seeking the satis- 
factions of oral, anal and genital pleasure, is so impersonal and 
inadequate that it takes on the aspect of being itself a product of 
schizoid thinking. One of my patients dreamed that she was physic- 
ally grafted on to a man who represented to her a good father- 
figure (on to whom was displaced an original umbilical relation 
to the mother). She would say that whenever anyone important to 
her went away, she felt the bottom had dropped out of her own 
self, and her emotional history was a long series of infatuations 
with older men who stood to her in loco parentis. She had grown 
up quite specially love-starved in an affectionless home. To try to 
reduce such problems to a quest for the pleasure of physical and 
emotional de-tensioning of sexual needs is a travesty of the per- 
sonal realities of human life. As Fairbairn's patient protested : 
'What I want is a father.' So Fairbaim concluded that 'the 
ultimate goal of libido is the object'. 

The orthodox libido theory developed by Abraham on the basis 
of Freud's work was one of development through successive stages 
determined by so-called erotogenic zones — oral, anal and genital — 
which became active in succession as a result of biological matura- 
tion. At each stage the infant was said to be motivated by the 
quest for pleasure, the pleasure of oral, anal or genital detension- 
ing. Philosophers have often exposed the fallacy of hedonism or 
the pleasure motive. When pleasure is primarily sought and 


directly aimed at, it is not found, for pleasure is not a 'thing-in- 
itself. It is the affective tone of a satisfying experience with an 
object, the sign that a good relationship with the object has been 
achieved, the accompaniment of getting something other than 
itself. The object is what is directly sought. In practice the life of 
the pleasure-seeker always ends in disillusionment, for pleasure, 
treated as itself the aim, is a will o' the wisp which eludes one's 
grasp in the absence of a worthwhile object. If one finds pleasure 
in a good book, beautiful landscape or satisfying companion, one's 
attention is centred on the book^ the landscape or the companion. 
If one switches attention away from the object to the pleasure of 
the object-relationship experience, the object is lost sight of, the 
experience of a satisfying object-relationship is lost and the 
pleasure soon evaporates. Those who seek pleasure only find the 
unpleasurable kind of excitement of the continuing tension of a 
never satisfied quest. 

Translating the above insight into terms of psychodynamic 
theory, Fairbaim regards the aim of libido as not pleasure but the 
object. His revision of theory starts with this basic assumption, and 
he writes : 

It must be recognized, however, that in the first instance eroto- 
genic zones are simply channels through which libido flows, and that 
a zone only becomes erotogenic when libido flows through it. The 
ultimate goal of libido is the object. (1952a, p. 31.) 

It follows from this in principle, though it is also evident from 
observation of human living, that pleasure-seeking is a deteriorated 
form of behaviour that arises out of the breakdown of good-object 
relationships and despair of their possibility. He says : 

Explicit pleasure-seeking represents a deterioration of behaviour. 
. . . Explicit pleasure-seeking has as its essential aim the relieving of 
the tension of libidinal need for the mere sake of relieving this ten- 
sion. Such a process does, of course, occur commonly enough; but, 
since libidinal need is object-need, simple tension-relieving implies 
some failure of object-relationships. The fact is that simple tension- 
relieving is really a safety-valve process. It is thus, not a means of 
achieving libidinal aims, but a means of mitigating the failure of 
these aims (pp. 139-40). 

Freud's impersonal 'pleasure-principle' treated the object as a 
mere means to the end of a purely subjective and impersonal 
tension-relieving 'process' and not as sought for its intrinsic value 
in a relationship. That is something which can be represented only 
by 'personal theory'. 


From this point of view Fairbaim subordinates the pleasure- 
principle to the reality-principle, which is now seen to be the 
object-relationships principle ; whereas Freud regards the reality- 
principle simply as a delayed pleasure-principle. He regards 
Freud's pleasure-principle as an immature, infantile reality- 
principle in the first place, operating at a time when the baby's 
appreciation of reality is as yet elementary and defective. Yet so 
far as it goes it is a reality-principle quite as much as that which 
guides the adult's cautious balancing of pros and cons ; for to the 
infant at first reality is the breast which answers to his needs. 
What he seeks is the breast, and pleasure is his enjoyment of it, the 
effective accompaniment of a successful application of the reality- 
principle in object-relations. That is the meaning of pleasure in 
dealing with the object- world whether in infancy or adult life. Of 
the reality-principle, Fairbairn writes : 

If, however, libido is primarily object-seeking, it follows that be- 
haviour must be oriented towards outer reality, and thus determined 
by a reality-principle from the first. . . . What the child lacks above 
all is experience of reality; and it is this, rather than any lack of 
orientation towards reality, that gives the adult observer the im- 
pression that the child's behaviour is primarily determined by a 
pleasure-principle. It must be recognized, of course, that with the 
child's inexperience goes a tendency to be more emotional and im- 
pulsive, i.e. less controlled, than the adult; and this, combined with 
the amount of frustration which he encounters, leads him to be 
more prone than the adult to resort to tension-relieving behaviour. 
In my opinion, however, it is erroneous to conclude that his be- 
haviour is primarily determined by a pleasure-principle which has 
later to be replaced by a reality-principle. No such distinction be- 
tween principles of behaviour can be drawn in the case of animals. 
. . . Characteristically the child's sense of reality is of low degree 
compared with that of the adult; but he is none the less actuated by 
a reality sense from the beginning, even if he is all too liable, in face 
of frustration, to stray into tension-relieving side-tracks (pp. 140-1). 

It is only in so far as conditions of adaptation become too difficult 
for the child that the reality-principle gives place to the pleasure- 
principle as a secondary and deteriorative (as against regressive) 
principle of behaviour calculated to relieve tension and provide 
compensatory satisfaction (p. 157). 

Concerning erotogenic zones Fairbaim writes : 

The conception of fundamental erotogenic zones constitutes an 
unsatisfactory basis for any theory of libidinal development because 


it is based on a failure to recognize that the function of libidinal 
pleasure is essentially to provide a signpost to the object. According 
to the conception of erotogenic zones the object is regarded as a 
signpost to libidinal pleasure; and the cart is thus placed before the 
horse. Such a reversal of the real position must be attributed to the 
fact that in the earlier stages of psycho-analytical thought, the para- 
mount importance of the object-relationship had not yet been suffi- 
ciently recognized. (1952a, p. 33.) 

An erotogenic zone does not originate hbido as such, in Fairbaim's 
view : it is a channel through which libido flows to the object. 
Libido is the primary object-seeking life-drive, and an erotogenic 
zone is any part of the body that is being used, i.e. libidinized, for 
the time being as a means to object-relationship, but the 'ultimate 
goal of libido is the object'. Just because zones are made eroto- 
genic by being used for object-relationship, they can just as well 
be de-eroticized, when the personality refuses so to use them. 
Furthermore, organs, areas and the whole body can as well be 
used to provide a channel for aggression as for libido, and then 
they become either unusable for good-object relationships (i.e. the 
mouth in anorexia, the genitals in impotence and frigidity, the 
hand or foot in hysterical paralysis, and so on), or else usable only 
for sadistic object-relationships. He regards concentration on an 
'erotogenic zone' as a conversion hysteria symptom (1954). What 
is imjx>rtant is not the channel but the nature of the personal 
emotional attitude, libidinal, sadistic, merely destructive or in- 
hibited. Thus Fairbaim revised the classic theory of libidinal 
development, basing it not on erotogenic zones and biological con- 
siderations, but on the changing, over-all libidinal attitudes, in- 
fantile, transitional and mature, of the ego to its objects, i.e. upon 
the quality of dependence (of the ego) upon the object. (1952, 
p. 34.) Biological maturation places organs and functions at the 
disposal of the developing 'person' for his use in conducting the 
main business of his existence, the sustaining of relationships with 
the people around him. How he uses those biological functions wiQ 
depend on how far he is being helped by those with whom he has 
to deal, to develop a satisfactory, non-anxious, loving and self- 
confident personality of his own and so to grow out of his original 
infantile dependence on the mother. 

Libidinal development is the process whereby the infantile 
psyche becomes, through various stages of growth, a sufficiently 
mature 'person' to be capable of sustaining adult and non-neurotic 
personal relationships in which also he can find self-fulfilment 
allowing for the fact that maturity is never more than relative, and 


'normal' persons all have some neurotic traits. The beginning and 
end of the process is thus given by definition : the starting-point of 
infantile dej>endence and the goal of maturity, or mature depend- 
ence. Infantile dependence, Fairbaim holds, is characterized by a 
persistence of both primary identification (the emotional state of 
the infant in the womb) and the oral incorporative or 'taking in' 
attitudes (contributed by breast-feeding) as the infant's chief means 
of object-relationship after birth. It is an object-relationship stage 
in which the mouth is the main and natural libidinal organ and 
the maternal breast the libidinal object. The infant is not im- 
mature because he is oral; he can as yet be no more than oral 
because he is immature, and at first capable only of taking without 

Mature dependence is characterized by full differentiation of 
ego and object (emergence from primary identification) and there- 
with a capacity for valuing the object for its own sake and for 
giving as well as receiving; a condition which should be described 
not as independence but as mature dependence. It is therefore 
expressed physically by a capacity for truly genital relationships 
which represent the co-operative mutuality and giving of two 
equal partners. Thus the adult is not mature because genital, but is 
capable of proper genital relationships because mature. (Neurotic 
genitality, which is compulsive, expresses oral sadistic rather than 
truly genital attitudes.) Fairbaim says: 'The development of 
object-relationships is essentially a process whereby infantile 
dependence upon the object gradually gives place to mature 
dependence.' What this involves he further describes : 

This process of development is characterized {a) by the gradual 
abandonment of an original object-relationship based upon primary 
identification, and (h) by the gradual adoption of an object-relation- 
ship based upon differentiation of the object. The gradual change 
which thus occurs in the nature of the object-relationship is accom- 
panied by a gradual change in libidinal aim, whereby an original 
oral, sucking, incorporating and predominantly 'taking' aim comes 
to be replaced by a mature, non-incorporating and predominantly 
'giving' aim compatible with developed genital sexuality. (1952, 
PP- 34-5-) 

In between the earliest, infantile dependent (oral) stage and the 
final, mature (including genital) stage, there is a transitional stage 
during which all the problems of achieving this development are 
encountered. It is a stage in which all neurotics, and in varying 
degrees most people, have remained to some extent arrested in 
their development. Fairbairn writes : 


The relationship involved in mature dependence is, of course, 
only theoretically possible. Nevertheless, it remains true that the 
more mature a relationship is, the less it is characterized by primary 
identification; for what such identification essentially represents is 
failure to differentiate the object. It is when identification persists 
at the expense of differentiation that a markedly compulsive ele- 
ment enters into the individual's attitude towards his objects. 
This is well seen in the infatuations of schizoid individuals, (i 952a, 
p. 42.) 

The transitional stage is much characterized by the use of anal 
symbolism and techniques for representing and dealing with 
internalized objects, mentally incorporated in the oral stage, with 
which the ego is still in various ways identified. But the anus is 
only an artificial, not a natural, libidinal organ, just as faeces 
is only a symbolic, not a real, Ubidinal object. Usually anal func- 
tioning is endowed with emotional significance because the mother 
forces it into the centre of her relationship with the child. Since the 
transitional stage consists of the struggle to outgrow infantile 
dependence on the mother primarily, it oscillates between rejec- 
tion and retention of objects, both processes being easily sym- 
bolized anally. The way in which defecation can acquire this 
significance is clear in the case of a small boy who could defecate 
only if his mother was kneeling in front of him and he could 
clasp his hands round her neck. If he felt likely to pass a motion 
when his mother was not there to hold on to, he would jump up 
screaming, 'It won't come.' Fairbaim rejects the idea of a bio- 
logical anal phase, and regards anal phenomena as simply drama- 
tizations of conflicts concerning internalized objects in the tran- 
sitional stage. 

The psychoses represent fixation in, or rather regression to, 
infantile dependence, characterized by the oral sucking and biting 
stages, and in the absence of later ego-defences : they constitute 
the basic psychic dangers. The psychoneuroses (phobic, hysteric, 
obsessional and, for this purpose, paranoid reactions) are defensive 
techniques adopted in the transitional stage for dealing with the 
internal bad objects incorporated in the earlier oral phases^ in 
relation to which the ego may suffer the catastrophe of a schizoid 
or depressed state of mind. 

It is no exaggeration to say that the whole course of libidinal de- 
velopment depends on the extent to which objects are incorporated 
and the nature of the techniques which are employed to deal with 
incorporated objects. (1952a, p. 34.) 


This theory of the way in which human beings develop from birth 
to maturity strikes one as eminently realistic and comprehensible 
by comparison with the classic theory. That character and person- 
ality should be shaped by the kind of personal relationships the 
child finds it possible to have with parents, as it struggles to grow 
out of its original totally dependent state towards an adult per- 
sonality, capable of both self-reliance and good relations with 
other people, impresses one as self-evident once stated. Likewise 
it seems equally self-evident when we are studying human beings as 
'persons' and not just as biological organisms, that what we do at 
each developmental stage with bodily organs such as the mouth, 
anus and genital is determined by the quality of our personality 
and personal relations at each stage, rather than vice-versa. The 
working out of this phasic development in detail, in terms of 
relationships with internal as well as external objects (i.e. in a 
theory first of libidinal development and second of endopsychic 
structure), does not involve anything new in principle but is forced 
on us by Mrs. Klein's discoveries about the nature of the mental 
constitution as it grows. It simply carries deeper into the uncon- 
scious, hidden structure of the psyche, the principle that personal- 
ity is formed in the matrix of personal relationships. Fairbairn's 
theory is closer to the actualities of life than the classic theory. 

About the theoretical goal of mature dependence there can be 
little difference of opinion. Maturity is not equated with inde- 
pendence though it includes a certain capacity for independence. 
The nature of this is best appreciated by reference to emotional 
identification which so involves the infantilely dependent person 
with other people's fates that he rises and falls with his love-object ; 
and cannot disentangle himself from his infatuation so as to remain 
stable by his own inner strength, which has not developed. But 
the independence of the mature person is simply that he does not 
collapse when he has to stand alone. It is not an independence of 
needs for other persons with whom to have relationship : that 
would not be desired by the mature. The importance of this 
scheme lies in the light it throws on the difficulties of arriving at 
maturity through earlier stages, i.e. on the various ways in which 
the process of development can be arrested and distorted. These 
give rise to the psychotic conditions which are held to have their 
psychological roots in the earliest, oral phase of infantile depend- 
ence, and to the psychoneuroses which are transitional-phase 
phenomena arising as defences against the dangers of relapse 
into the orally conditioned states. Melanie Klein and Fairbairn 
agree in broad principle here, whatever differences exist in detail. 



4. Theory of Psychoneurosis * 

Though Mrs. Klein's work came to involve the view that 
psychoneuroses are defences against psychoses, she did not at- 
tempt to revise Abraham's theory, which treated the various 
psychoses and psychoneuroses as due to fixations at the oral, anal 
and phallic phases, culminating in hysteria as a phallic fixation. 
It is now recognized, however, that hysteria cannot be the latest 
psychoneurotic development, for it yields clearer evidence of oral 
fixation than the other neuroses. Fairbaim wrote in 194 1 : 'I have 
yet to analyse the hysteric, male or female, who does not turn out 
to be an inveterate breast-seeker at heart.' (1952a, p. 124.) Refer- 
ring, in 1954, to an hysteric whose mother 'combined in a big way 
the roles of exciting and rejecting object for her', he found in this 
type of mother-infant relation 'the explanation of the fact that the 
libidinal ego of the hysteric is found to contain so powerful an oral 
component'. (1954, p. 113.) He regards the so-called phallic phase 
as an artifact like the anal phase. Whereas in anal phenomena 
the child's faeces have been used to symbolize its libidinal object, 
in the phallic phenomena of hysteria the penis has been used to 
symbolize the breast (with the vagina taking on the role of a 
mouth). Hence genitality is rejected and then discovered to be 
operative under repression in such a state as to justify Fairbairn's 
further comment : 'whereas the sexuality of the hysteric is at 
bottom extremely oral, his (or her) basic orality is, so to speak, 
extremely genital.' (1954, p. 114-) 

In accordance with the point of view here adopted, paranoia and 
the obsessional neurosis are not to be regarded as expressions of a 
fixation at the earlier and later anal phases respectively. On the 
contrary, they are to be regarded as states resulting from the em- 
ployment of special defensive techniques which derive their pattern 
from rejective excretory processes. (1952a, p. 36.) 

The paranoid technique is simply to reject outright, to eject or 
project. The obsessional technique is more developed, since it 
treats excretion not simply as the rejection of an object regarded 
as bad, a persecutor, but also as parting with an object that is 
regarded as contents that can be given but also lost, so setting up 
a need to control the object and obtain mastery over it. The 
internalized object may be regarded as bad, but, whereas the 
paranoid treats it as externalized, the obsessional retains it within 
and seeks to master it. By comparison with these techniques the 
phobic reaction, like the paranoid, is to externalize the object, to 
treat it as existing in the outer world, but not in order to direct 



hostility towards it but rather to fly from it. The hysteric, Hke the 
obsessional, on the other hand treats the bad object as internal, 
but does not seek to master it ; rather, hke the paranoid he rejects 
it, which he does by means of repression or dissociation. Since the 
object is identified with the genital organ, this leads to a rejection 
of the genitals and so to hysteric impotence or frigidity. 

The full distinction between these techniques emerges when 
their reaction to the potentially good object is taken also into 
account. Ambivalence arises as a result of the sphtting of the 
image of the object into two, corresponding to its partly satisfying 
and partly unsatisfying aspects. The bad object is rejected and the 
good object accepted. Fairbairn thus regards these four tran- 
sitional defensive techniques as involving both the accepted and 
the rejected object, in the following manner. The obsessional 
retains and seeks to master both as internal objects, the phobic 
treats both as externalized and seeks to fly from the bad object and 
take refuge with the good one. The paranoid externalizes the bad 
object to hate and attack it, but accepts the good object as in- 
ternalized and remains identified with it, thus becoming convinced 
that he is perfectly in the right. The hysteric does the opposite; he 
externalizes and clings to the good object in his outer world, while 
internalizing and rejecting his bad object in his inner world. These 
techniques do not arise at fixation points, but are usable inter- 
changeably throughout the transitional period. 

Fairbairn' s views about internalization differ somewhat from 
those of Mrs. Klein, and have also undergone a development in 
one particular. Mrs. Klein regards the infant as internalizing both 
good and bad objects from the beginning, because it is by nature 
incorporative, mentally as well as physically. Kleinians hold that 
only the internalization of good objects from the start enables the 
infant to achieve good ego-development. Fairbairn at first held 
that only the bad object was originally internalized in an attempt 
to gain mastery over it because as an external object it could not 
be mastered. He saw no reason for the original internalization of 
the good object. It is satisfying in real life and good ego-develop- 
ment results from good object-relations. He writes : 

In my opinion, it is always the 'bad' object (i.e. at this stage the 
unsatisfying object) that is internalized in the first instance; for I 
find it difficult to attach any meaning to the primary internalization 
of a 'good' object which is both satisfying and amenable from the 
infant's point of view. There are those, of course, who would argue 
that it would be natural for the infant, when in a state of depriva- 
tion, to internalize the good object on the wish-fulfilment principle; 


but, as it seems to me, internalization of objects is essentially a 
measure of coercion and it is not the satisfying object, but the un- 
satisfying object, that the infant seeks to coerce. (1952a, pp. i lo-i i.) 

In 195 1 he introduced a modification in one particular. He now 
regarded the original internalization as appertaining not simply to 
the bad object, since in the pre-ambivalent early oral stage the 
bad and good objects have not yet been separated in the infant 
mind. Rather, it must be the pre-ambivalent object that is at first 
internalized, for the reason that, while it is in some measure satis- 
fying, it is also in some measure unsatisfying, which creates the 
need to internalize it in an attempt to make it more satisfactory, i.e. 
to deal with the problem 'in the mind' because it cannot be dealt 
with in outer reality. Only after internalization is it split into a 
good object and a bad object in the inner phantasy world, and 
therewith ambivalence arises. The good object is then desired, 
while the bad object is hated and rejected. The stage is now set 
for the manipulation of these internal objects by the psycho- 
neurotic techniques of the transitional period. The internal objects 
are, for both Mrs. Klein and Fairbaim, creations of the oral 
period. Fairbaim writes : 

From the phobic point of view the conflict (of the transitional 
period) presents itself as one between flight from and return to the 
object. From the obsessional point of view, on the other hand, the 
conflict presents itself as one between expulsion and retention of the 
object. (1952a, p. 44.) 

He regards the phobic technique, therefore, as predominantly 
passive and masochistic, while the obsessional technique is pre- 
dominantly active and sadistic. Further : 

In the hysterical state . . . the conflict appears to be formulated as 
simply one between acceptance and rejection of the object. Accept- 
ance of the object is clearly manifested in the intense love relation- 
ships which are so typical of the hysteric; but the very exaggeration 
of these emotional relationships in itself raises a suspicion that a 
rejection is being over-compensated. This suspicion is confirmed by 
the propensity of the hysteric to dissociative phenomena. ... If the 
paranoid and the hysterical states are now compared, we are con- 
fronted with a significant contrast. Whereas the hysteric over-values 
objects in the outer world, the paranoid individual regards them as 
persecutors; and, whereas the hysterical dissociation is a form of 
self-depreciation, the attitude of the paranoid individual is one of 
extravagant grandiosity. The paranoid state must accordingly be 
regarded as representing rejection of the externalized object and ac- 


ceptance of the internalized object — or, alternatively, extemaliza- 
tion of the rejected object and internalization of the accepted object. 

(1952a, pp. 44-5-) 

The hysteric position is the opposite of this ; the accepted object 
is sought in the outer world and the rejected object is regarded as 
being inside. 

5. Criticisms of Fairb aim's Views 

{a) Winnicott and Kahn's Review of Fairbairn's Theory. The 
chief critical study so far of Fairbaim's work has been made by 
D. W. Winnicott and M. Kahn in a review of Fairbaim's book 
in The International Journal of Psycho-Analysis. (1953, pp. 329- 
33.) They examine his views on internalization, on the inherently 
object-seeking nature of libido and on the relationship of 'primary 
identification' to the 'object-relations principle'. The real point of 
their criticism is by no means clear or convincing, and it is a little 
difficult to see why Winnicott seeks to make it in view of the fact 
that his own writings imply an unformulated theoretical revision 
of Freud that is very close to that of Fairbaim. They state that 
they 'share many of Fairbaim's dissatisfactions' but are 'left with 
the feeling that Freud's developing ideas provided and still pro- 
vide a more fertile soil than the developed theory of Fairbaim' 
(p. 333, col. i). It is, however, 'Freud's developing ideas' that have 
gone on being developed in both Melanie Klein and Fairbaim, 
both of whom have met with criticism from the standpoint of 
Freud's more static ideas. Certain remarks in the review suggest 
that the reviewers have been unable to escape from their own 
original Freudian frame of reference, though Winnicott's views 
about the 'true and false self imply a position far removed from 
that of Freud. They write : 

Fairbaim makes a definite claim . . . that Fairbaim's theory sup- 
plants that of Freud. If Fairbaim is right, then we teach Fairbaim 
and not Freud to our students. If one could escape from this claim 
we could enjoy the writings of an analyst who challenges every- 
thing, and who puts clinical evidence before accepted theory, and 
who is no worshipper at a shrine (p. 329). 

However, one does not challenge things as an enjoyable exercise 
merely, but to replace inadequate theories by more adequate ones. 
The same claim is implied in certain parts of Melanie Klein's 
work and will be implied in any genuine development beyond 
Freud. The point is irrelevant to scientific progress. The last part 
of the quotation describes the true scientific approach, except for 


its expressed wish to escape from the consequences of 'putting 
clinical evidence before accepted theory' if it appears to outmode 
accepted theory. The alternative of 'teaching Fairbaim' or 'teach- 
ing Freud' has nothing to do with science, which, in this case, 
should be concerned only to 'teach psycho-analysis' as a develop- 
ing theory of which Freud, Melanie Klein, Fairbaim and others 
as yet unborn will represent stages of progressive clarification. One 
would not represent physics as a choice between 'teaching Newton' 
and 'teaching Einstein'. This emotional standing-ground of Win- 
nicott and Kahn appears to impose on them a kind of duty to 
criticize this 'new theory' with which, in fact, Winnicott at least 
has much in common. 

They state that 'it is hopeless to try to correlate these [i.e. Fair- 
bairn's] statements with those of Melanie Klein', make a gratu- 
itous assumption that Fairbaim is not sufficiently familiar with 
her writings and say : 'This is but a caricature of Klein's theory, 
if it is related to that theory at all, which seems doubtful except 
that the terms overlap' (p. 332). Again, 'It is a pity that terms are 
used which suggest familiarity with work such as that of Klein in 
respect of what she named the "positions" in emotional develop- 
ment, the "depressive", "paranoid" and "schizoid" respectively' 
(p. 331). However, since Fairbaim's views do not claim to repre- 
sent Klein's but to be based on independent observations, they 
cannot be a 'caricature', and in the interests of accuracy it must be 
stated that 'schizoid position' is not a Kleinian term : by her own 
express statement she adopted Fairbairn's term to amphfy her 
conception of the 'paranoid' into the 'paranoid-schizoid' position. 
Fairbaim would be the first to acknowledge that he learned much 
that was fundamental to his new views from Mrs. Klein. He writes 
explicitly : 

The time is now ripe for a psychology of object-relationships. The 
ground has already been prepared for such a development of 
thought by the work of Melanie Klein; and indeed it is only in the 
light of her conception of internalized objects that a study of object- 
relationships can be expected to yield any significant results for 
psychopathology. (1952a, p. 60.) 

But Fairbaim's theory is the result of independent thinking, as all 
true theoretical work should be, and must be evaluated as such. 

Coming to specific criticism, one of the most important is the 
following : 

This internalizing to coerce is surely a defence mechanism. . . . 
Fairbaim is thus considering introjection as a specific defence 


mechanism, and not as a primary process as such, nor as a kind of 
object-relationship. It is difficult to see how the human being could 
build up inner sources of strength, or the basic stuff of the inner 
world that is personal and indeed the self, simply on the taking in 
of 'bad' objects through the operation of a defence mechanism (p. 

In the first place Fairbaim himself regards the term 'defence 
mechanism' as invalid because it is mechanistic and impersonal. 
One must speak rather of defensive activities of the ego in relation 
to bad objects. Thus the statement that Fairbairn treats intro- 
jection as a defence mechanism and not as a kind of object- 
relationship is incorrect. Fairbaim treats introjection as a de- 
fensive reaction of an ego in relation to a bad object, the purpose 
of which is to master the bad object inside the psyche because it 
cannot do so in external reality. The result is to set up an internal 
bad-object relationship. The important point, however, in Winni- 
cott and Kahn's criticism is that Fairbairn does not treat intro- 
jection as a 'primary process' as such, while Winnicott and also 
Kleinian writers do. That does pinpoint a specific difference 
between Fairbaim and Klein and raises an ultimate issue. 

Introjection is admitted to be a defensive operation which, as 
the reviewers say, 'has been well described and accepted in analytic 
literature'. Is it also a primary process? Kleinians say 'Yes', and 
hold that only by primary internalization of good objects can the 
infant get a start in good-ego development. Fairbaim says 'No'. 
He regards introjection as concerned, not with good-ego develop- 
ment, but with the creation of the psychopathological uncon- 
scious, the inner world of bad objects in the first place, which in 
turn calls for the creation of internal good objects as a protection. 
Introjection is in itself a schizoid withdrawal from external object- 
relations in real life, and is the chief agent in creating the inner 
dream world which Fairbairn regards as a universal schizoid 
phenomenon based on fundamental splitting of the ego. He treats 
good ego-development as a function, not of introjection, but of 
good ego-object relationships in the outer world. This view seems 
to be closer to the facts. It is, in any case, difficult to see how good 
ego-development could be secured by any sort of good-object 
relations, external or internal, in face of a death instinct working 

Winnicott and Kahn note that Fairbaim introduced a modi- 
fication of his original views on introjection, in 1951, and their 
critical reaction to this is curious. They write that Fairbairn 'him- 
self . . . found this state of affairs unsatisfactory' (p. 332). This, 


however, was not over the issues that they had just raised, con- 
cerning which Fairbaim's view remained unaltered. They write : 

He [Fairbairn] seeks to correct himself by harking back to the 1941 
paper, and by writing : 'The object which is originally internalized is 
not an object embodying the exclusively "bad" and unsatisfying 
aspect of the external object, but the pre-ambivalent object. . . . The 
internalization of the pre-ambivalent object would then be explained 
on the ground that it presented itself as unsatisfying in some measure 
as well as in some measure satisfying. On this assumption ambiva- 
lence will be a state first arising in the original unsplit ego in relation, 
not to the external object, but to an internalized pre-ambivalent 
object.' But this lands the author in other and possibly worse contra- 
dictions, and in any case it would seem that if this new turn to his 
theory be true, then his main point (which is that libido is object- 
seeking) is no longer a good one (p. 332, col. i). 

It is still, however, Fairbaim's view that it is on account of its 
'bad' aspects that the pre-ambivalent object is internalized, to be 
subsequently split into good and bad objects which are then 
manipulated in the psychoneurotic techniques for the defence of 
the ego against internal bad objects. It is, moreover, still Fair- 
baim's view that it is not in this direction that we should look for 
the causes of good ego-development, but to good object-relation- 
ships in real life. In terms of his later theory of endopsychic 
structure, this is a Central Ego process. 

We turn to Winnicott and Kahn's view that the 1 95 1 modifica- 
tion 'lands the author in other and possibly worse contradictions. 
... If this new theory be true, then his main point (which is that 
libido is object-seeking) is no longer a good one.' The argument by 
which they seek to prove this is unconvincing, and had in fact 
already been refuted by Joan Riviere in another connection. They 
seek to prove that the infantile ego cannot be primarily libidinally 
object-seeking because it is in a state of primary identification 
with the mother, a characteristic of what Fairbairn calls 'infantile 
dependence'. Quoting Fairbaim's definition of primary identifica- 
tion 'to signify the cathexis of an object which has not been dif- 
ferentiated [the reviewers' italics] (or has only been partly differen- 
tiated) from himself by the cathecting subject (p. 145)' (p. 332), 
they lay it down that 'if an object is not difTerentiated it cannot 
operate as an object. What Fairbairn is referring to then is an 
infant with needs, but with no "mechanism" by which to imple- 
ment them, an infant with needs not seeking an object, but seeking 
de-tension, libido seeking satisfaction, instinct-tension seeking a 
return to a state of rest or un-excitement ; which brings us back 


to Freud' (p. 332). It certainly does and would cancel out Melanie 
Klein as well as Fairbaim. 

In the first place this argument, which is really a piece of special 
pleading, ignores the fact that Fairbairn in this definition is con- 
trasting primary with secondary identification. Primary identifica- 
tion characterizes the infant in the womb. Secondary identification 
is a regression back to identification after some amount of diff eren- 
tiation has begun to develop. In between them lies the problem 
of the point at which the process of differentiation gets a start. 
Presumably the first point that we can with confidence choose as 
the beginning (or as creating the possibiHty of the beginning) of the 
disruption of primary identification is the process of birth. This is 
the problem already raised by Mrs. Klein's work, as to how far 
object-relations go back into infancy, and whether, as Kleinians 
concluded, the original Freudian theory of autoeroticism is not 
now disproved. Winnicott and Kahn evidently stand by the ortho- 
dox Freudian view of an original autoerotic and narcissistic stage 
when the ego is objectless (or is that Kahn, for it is hardly con- 
sonant with Winnicott's writings). It is apposite here to recall the 
Kleinian reply to this (which we set forth fully in chapter XII, 
pp. 240-4 by Paula Heimann and Joan Riviere. Winnicott and 
Kahn write : 

The provision of a way out by the mother is not a part of the 
infant's mental activities, but something that may (or may not) be 
given to him. That if all goes well the individual infant may develop 
to a point at which he can begin to relate the object to his need, to 
seek it, to create it, to coerce it, etc., is well known (p. 332). 

This plainly confirms Fairbaim's view that object-relation is the 
basis of development. Of course, at first, the object must come to 
the infant from without and be given before it can become in any 
sense a mental possession or creation. From the moment of birth 
there is a separate object to be given to the infant in just that way. 
The opposite of their general line of argument was implied by 
Heimann, when she wrote : 

The differentiations are brought about by the fact that the in- 
dividual exists in a world on which he is dependent ... an organism 
which depends to a vast extent on other organisms and powers out- 
side itself for attaining its purposes, must become influenced and 
changed by its contacts. (1952, Klein et ai, p. 122. Quoted in ch. 
XII, p. 276.) 

As a result of the infant's separation from the mother at birth, 
the effect of which is that the physical basis for complete primary 


identification now no longer exists, the infant in fact is now an 
entity in himself seeking a relationship with a separate object in 
however blind a way, and in a way that was not the case prior to 
birth. It has become, in Heimann's words, 'an organism which 
depends ... on other organisms . . . outside itself', and this is 
now the physical basis for a disruption of the ante-natal state of 
primary indentification, even though this normally yields only 
slowly to the impact of object-relationships. If, as Freud held, the 
process of birth is itself the first anxiety-creating experience, then 
this experience enforces a disturbance which promotes the disso- 
lution of primary identification. Winnicott and Kahn's argument 
that 'the provision of a way out by the mother is not a part of the 
infant's mental activities' seems to be beside the point. It is Fair- 
bairn's view that if the mother is a good object, the dissolution of 
primary identification under the experience of good object-rela- 
tionship will proceed at a normal pace. If the mother is a 'bad' or 
unsatisfying object, then separation will threaten to dissolve 
primary identification all too rapidly and separation-anxiety will 
dictate a flight backwards into secondary identification with an 
internalized object. 

Joan Riviere, as we have seen, refers to Anna Freud's view that 

There is a narcissistic and autoerotic phase of several months 
duration preceding object-relations in the proper sense, even though 
[Riviere's italics] the beginnings of object-relation are built up during 
this initial stage. . . . Freudian theory allows at this period only for 
the crudest rudiments of object-relationships. (Quoted ch. XII, p. 


Joan Riviere points out that Anna Freud distinguishes between 
'object-relation in its proper sense' and 'the beginnings of object- 
relation' or 'the crudest rudiments of object-relationship . . . slowly 
built up during this initial stage'. She rightly replies : 

There can be no such distinction, since the 'beginnings' and so on 
are the object-relation appropriate and proper to the earliest stage of 
development. At each stage . . . the degree of object-relation is proper 
to that stage. (Only if 'object-relation proper' were understood to 
mean fully developed adult object-relation could such a distinction 
be made.) (Klein et al., 1952, p. 12. Quoted in ch. XII, p. 244.) 

This incidentally disposes of Winnicott and Kahn's criticism that 
Fairbairn's view implies 'an equation of the infant with the adult 
individual he is going to be' (p. 330). That is not so. Fairbairn's 
view implies no more, in this case, than the Kleinian view does, 
namely, that certainly from the moment of birth primary identi- 


fication is challenged by another process, the emergence of object- 
relations experience in however rudimentary a form at first. As 
Joan Riviere says : 'At each stage the character or degree of 
object-relation is proper to that stage', and Fairbaim holds that 
primary identification is not 'objectless' but the most primitive 
form of object-relation. 

The facts seem to be as follows : the infant is an organically 
separate object from the mother after birth and has in fact there- 
fore an object-relation to the breast. Birth is the experience that 
makes the first disrupting impact on the untroubled bliss of 
primary identification. After that, the experience can never again 
be absolute. Some undefinable difference has been made that is 
in fact the first step towards the differentiation of the object and 
the ego. As yet the infant's separate individuality is potential and 
his task is to achieve mental realization and development of his 
own separate existent self. The mother-child relation is, at birth, 
an organically actual, and a psychologically pK>tential, object- 
relation, and the first phase of growth is the development of an 
explicitly conscious object-relation out of the already ruptured 
primary identification. Feelings of identification and object-rela- 
tion must war together with ever-sharpening intensity as time goes 
on, the first slowly fading as the second increases in strength. But 
they must co-exist for a long time and the infant must have some 
vague, elementary experience of both at the same time. This is 
common ground to both Klein and Fairbairn. It is not the case, as 
Winnicott and Kahn aver, that Fairbaim does not 'consistently 
maintain the view by which the infant is always a separate entity, 
seeking objects, from within his own entity experience' (p. 331, 
col. I ). It is rather that the infant finds it difficult not to oscillate 
between identification and differentiation. Nor is it the case that 
'if the object is not differentiated it cannot operate as an object' 
(p. 332, col. i). Rather, it is because the object is an object and 
operates in fact as an object, and the infant's nature is basically 
object-seeking, that it is psychically possible to get a start at all 
in the process of differentiating the object. Fairbairn writes : 

It may be claimed that the psychological introjection of objects 
and, in particular, the perpetuation of introjected objects in inner 
reality are processes which by their very nature imply that libido is 
essentially object-seeking; for the mere presence of oral impulses is 
in itself quite insufficient to account for such a pronounced devotion 
to objects as these phenomena imply. (1952a, pp. 82-3.) 

Fairbairn's view is that the process of differentiation proceeds 
smoothly if the first object-relations are good. Winnicott and Kahn 


apparently agree. They write : 'Tha^ if all goes well the individual 
infant may develop to a point at which he can begin to relate the 
object to his need ... is well known' (p. 332, col. 2). Their case 
against Fairbaim (and also against Klein on this point) amounts 
to little more than an implication that it is difficult to pin-pK)int 
the moment at which identification is broken into by exphcit 
object-relations experience. That is no justification for arguing 
that Fairbairn lands in Freudian objectless autoerotism as the 
first phase after birth. 

Fairbaim's further view is that it is bad-object relations that i 
impede the development of differentiation by creating insecurity 
and anxiety through lack of satisfaction of Ubidinal needs. This 
causes (i) an intensification of oral-incorporative attitudes to the 
breast, and also (2) a deep, unconscious repression or flight back- 
wards to identification again, thus creating secondary identifica- 
tion in the place of the primary identification that has already been 
disturbed. Hence the two fundamental features of Infantile De- 
pendence, sadistic oral-incorpK>rative trends and secondary identi- 
fication with incorporated (i.e. internalized) objects, come to fuse j 
into a complex whole. 

{b) Balinfs Criticism of 'Libido as Object-seeking'. Dr. M. 
Balint, in a paper entitled 'Pleasure, Object and Libido. Some 
Reflections on Fairbaim's Modifications of Psychoanalytic 
Theory' (1956, pp. 162-7), and also in 'Criticism of Fairbaim's 
Generalization about Object-Relations' (1957, p. 323), makes two 
criticisms. It is difficult to decide how far he really presents them 
as criticisms, since in both cases he retains Fairbaim's view but j 
yokes it with a qualification. To the present writer, however, the 
qualification appears to be too incompatible with Fairbaim's view 
to be capable of travelling in this double harness. 

The first criticism concerns Fairbaim's view that libido is 
primarily object-seeking rather than pleasure-seeking. Balint holds 
that because Freud originally chose the term 'libido' to denote the 
intensity factor in sexual striving, it should be restricted to that 
sense, at least in that it should be regarded as basically pleasure- 
seeking (i.e. seeking de-tensioning). He thinks that Fairbaim has 
been misled into forgetting that original meaning, by the increas- 
ing use of the term as a 'barely sexual, almost mythical, hazy 
conception' (1956, p. 163), and that if he had remembered it, he 
would have had 'to invent a new term for what he now calls 
libido'. (1956, p. 163.) That, however, ignores the very point of 
Fairbaim's theory. He regards animal as well as human nature as 
primarily object-seeking ; and the view of libido as primarily 
pleasure-seeking, as a quest simply for de-tensioning, as resting 


on mistaken factual observation. He regards tension as specifically 
the tension of object-seeking needs, and he would reply that even 
animal f>sychology would disprove the idea that 'had the trans- 
lators used "lust" instead of "libido" [Fairbairn] could never have 
said "lust is not pleasure-seeking" since this would have been 
obviously self-contradictory'. ( 1 956, p. 1 63.) Balint himself appears 
to fall into semantic confusion here over the meaning of 'lust'. 
The term was not used by the translators, because in EngHsh it had 
acquired 'the overtone of sinfulness' (1957, p. 323), but it is in this 
rejected sense that lust is pleasure-seeking and regarded by Fair- 
bairn as a phenomenon of deterioration and failure of object- 

Balint states Fairbaim's position as follows : 'Libido is not plea- 
sure-seeking : it is object-seeking.' (1956, p. 162.) That way of 
putting it suggests that Fairbairn wishes to deny the existence of 
pleasure in libidinal object-seeking, and to treat pleasure and 
objects as mutually exclusive goals. In fact, his view is that 
'pleasure is the signpost to the object', but the object is the goal, 
and libido is only reliably pleasure-finding in proportion as it is 
object-seeking. By becoming purely pleasure-seeking, the ego in 
the end loses both the object and the pleasure. Fairbairn himself 
has replied to Balint thus : 

I should now prefer to say that it is the individual in his libidinal 
capacity (and not libido) that is object-seeking. This reformulation 
is designed to avoid any appearance of hypostatization of instincts 
. . . there is no question of my denying the importance of the role 
played by pleasure in the mental economy. What is at issue is the 
particular role which it plays; and my contention would be that, 
whilst there can be no doubt that under certain conditions it can 
become an 'end', its natural function is that of a 'means'. (1957, p. 

Balint has ignored the fact that for Fairbairn psychodynamic 
theory is a theory of man as a 'person', and that his purely organic 
and tension-relieving processes acquire an entirely new significance 
when seen as personal libidinal activities. Balint apparently retains 
psychobiology and adds object-relations psychology as an ap- 
pendix. Fairbairn lifts psychodynamic theory out of psycho- 
biology into object-relations theory. 
Thus Balint writes : 

It is a pity that Fairbairn takes the view that libido is not pleasure- 
seeking but object-seeking. If I am right the correct way to describe 
his clinical experience would have been something like this : in 


addition to the hitherto well-studied quality of libido, i.e. its 
pleasure-seeking tendency, clinical observations have proved beyond 
doubt that its object-seeking tendency is at least equally important, 
especially in patients while under analysis. The further problem 
arises now how to evaluate the relative importance of the two ten- 
dencies of the libido — pleasure-seeking and object-seeking. (1956, 
p. 167.) 

That is exactly what Fairbaim does not mean and is concerned to 
deny. The way Balint slips into the use of the term the hbido 
shows that he is still under the influence of the earlier sub-personal 
level of conceptualization. Fairbaim explicity repudiated this 
hypostatization of the libido, and speaks, as we have just seen, 
only of 'libido' as the striving of a person for good object-relation- 
ships, in which the experience of pleasure accompanying success 
is a signpost to the object. The problem of the comparative evalua- 
tion of pleasure-seeking and object-seeking is dealt with very ex- 
plicitly by Fairbairn. The failure to achieve good object-relation- 
ships on a properly personal level leads to a deterioration of the 
libidinal quest to the level of pure pleasure-seeking or tension- 
relieving. This partakes of the nature of hysterical symptom forma- 
tion (sexual compulsions, for example, counteracted by sexual 
inhibitions), the substitution of a bodily process for a personal- 
relations problem. (Cf. Fairbaim, 1954.) 

We note further that Balint does not deny that libido is object- 
seeking, but he seeks to limit this by the qualification 'especially in 
patients under analysis'. This is the substance of his second critic- 
ism. He writes : 

To a large extent we would all agree with [Fairbairn] if only we 
could be allowed to qualify his conclusions by adding that they are 
valid only so far as the limitations of the analytic situation and Fair- 
bairn's individual technique go. (1956, p. 166.) 

If this were true it would apply to all psycho-analysis of any 
description and could be held to make objective psychological 
science impossible. In fact, however, it is impossible to maintain 
that the primary importance of object-seeking is restricted to the 
psycho-analytic situation. It is written too plainly over the whole 
of life. Balint suggests that Fairbairn overlooks the fact that trans- 
ference phenomena belong to the field of two-person psychology, 
and treats them as belonging to the field of one-person psychology. 
It is, however, the essence of Fairbaim's point of view that he 
would deny the existence of the field of one-person psychology in 
any sense that could be meaningful for psycho-analysis. Even 


purely autoerotic tension-relieving activities turn out to be rela- 
tionships with internalized objects. He regards the object-rela- 
tionship of the patient and analyst as fundamental alike for theory 
and therapy, and holds that the psycho-analytic sessions provide a 
proper field for the objective and scientific study of two-person 
relationship phenomena. He writes : 

The contrast between past and present (like that between uncon- 
scious and conscious) has come to be largely subordinated to the 
contrast between inner reality and outer reality; and the influence of 
inner reality upon the behaviour of the patient in outer reality has 
come to occupy the focus of the analyst's attention. In conformity 
with this fact, the analysis of the transference situation has tended 
more and more to become the primary aim of psycho-analytical 
procedure . . . the psycho-analytical method has largely ceased to 
be a historical method involving a reconstruction of the patient's 
past, and has largely become a method for investigating the influence 
of (characteristically unconscious) situations and relationships in 
inner reality upon contemporary experience and behaviour. (1952b, 
p. 127.) 

This view of transference is kept by Fairbaim in its true context 
in the total 'object-relationship' between patient and analyst. He 

What mediates the 'curing' or 'saving' process ... is the develop- 
ment of the patient's relationship to the analyst, through a phase in 
which earlier pathogenic relationships are repeated under the in- 
fluence of the transference, into a new kind of relationship which is 
at once satisfying and adapted to the circumstances of outer reality. 
(1955, P- 156.) 

The aim of the analytic session is thus to give the patient an oppor- 
tunity to grow out of his emotionally infantile inner world into an 
ability to relate himself realistically to the analyst as a real person 
of the present-day outer world, and as a consequence to become 
able so to relate himself with realism to all other persons. To make 
this fKDSsible the analyst himself must be a real person to the 
patient. In doing this he gives the patient just what was missing 
in childhood to enable him to become a real person himself. It is 
because of this that psycho-analysis is a window opening out on 
to the whole of human life. Fairbaim can hardly be charged with 
forgetting that psycho-analysis is a two-person relationship. 

Balint holds, however, that this patient-analyst relation is of 
necessity frustrating, especially in that while some gratifications 
are allowed inevitably, they must stop short of bodily orgiastic 


pleasures. This, he regards, as resulting in a forcing to the front 
of object-seeking on the level of a quest for personal relations. Fair- 
bairn sees the analytic situation as having precisely the opposite 
effect. He writes : 

It must be recognized that, since the patient, qua patient, may be 
presumed to have suffered severe deprivations in childhood, he 
comes to the analytical situation with an intense craving for object- 
relations already present in him, and that, since the conditions of 
the orthodox analytical situation impose upon him a severe depriva- 
tion of object-relations with the analyst, they have the effect of 
reproducing the trauma of deprivation from which he originally 
suffered. . . . But, contrary to Balint's contention, the effect of the 
artificially induced trauma is to compromise such capacity for object- 
relations as the patient possesses, to provoke in him actively the 
'regressive' phenomena to which Winnicott has drawn attention, . . . 
and to compel him to fall back upon the pleasure-principle. . . . The 
effect of the orthodox psycho-analytical method is thus to confer an 
exaggerated importance, not upon object-seeking phenomena, but 
upon phenomena of a pleasure-seeking nature. (1957b, pp. 334-5.) 

It is Fairbairn's view that bodily gratifications early became for 
the patient the 'area' into which he was forced back for solving 
his problems of unsatisfied needs for genuinely personal relations 
to parents. The patient will only be cured as he gets out of that 
and deals with the real problem, which is always that of finding 
someone with whom a properly personal relationship is possible, 
so that the maturing of the patient as a 'total personality' can be 

[c) Markillie's Criticism of the 'Stains' of Internal Objects. In a 
review in the British Journal of Medical Psychology (1956, pp. 
169-71) Markillie raises an important point, which will be better 
appreciated in the light of the next chapter on Fairbairn's theory 
of endopsychic structure. He writes : 

The sharp definition Fairbairn gives to objects and structures in 
the personality at times gives the impression of too great sophistica- 
tion in these structures. For example, although he talks quite speci- 
fically about ego-development, it is difficult not to conceive of his 
original pristine unitary ego, which becomes split into three parts, in 
far more sophisticated terms than would appear to be warranted. 
The clarity of his objects is perhaps the product of abstraction rather 
than of actual experience, though localization of feelings into specific 
identifiable objects as in fairy stories and myths is one of the ways of 
defending against the much more threatening anxieties that the 


immature ego must experience . . . when he talks of the return of 
bad objects, it is difficult not to feel that they have achieved a life 
of their own, that, for instance, the aggression in their persecution is 
theirs and not the subject's own aggression (p. 170). 

Sutherland has remarked, in similar vein, that Fairbaim's 'struc- 
tures give the impression of a greater degree of organization than 
appears to be the case, at least in some patients', and suggests that 
'the anti-libidinal ego in many severe hysterics . . . has active sub- 
structures'. {Brit, J. Phil. Sc, Vol. 7, No. 28, 1957, p. 332.) No 
doubt, the exigencies of clear conceptualization give this impres- 
sion, especially in the initial stating of new concepts. Fairbaim 

I find no difficulty in accepting the proposition that the internal 
objects are composite structures; and indeed it would be my con- 
tention that this is so. Thus the internal objects which I envisage 
may be composed of maternal and paternal components in all pro- 
portions and in all degrees of integration. ... As contrasted with 
these internal objects, the three ego-structures which I describe would 
seem, characteristically, to be much more definitely organized and 
differentiated — a phenomenon which may be attributed to the simple 
fact that they are ego-structures. (1957b, p. 338.) 

He regards the anti-libidinal ego as the most rigid, the libidinal 
ego as somewhat less so, and the central ego as the most loosely 
organized, which accounts for patients often not knowing who or 
what they really are. 

A lengthy study of Fairbaim's views was made by Abenheimer 
in the British Journal of Medical Psychology, Vol. XXVIII, Pt. 
I, 1955, pp. 29—41. This, however, hardly concerns us here since 
it is made entirely from the Jungian jx)int of view, and has been 
replied to at length by Fairbairn himself, in 'Observations in De- 
fence of the Object-Relations Theory of the Personality' (1955). 

6. Theory of Psychosis and the Psycho pathology of 

Infantile Dependence 

Edward Glover regarded Mrs. Klein's theory of a 'depressive 
position' as different in principle (a new metapsychology) from 
Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex, as the basis of psycho- 
neurosis. Fairbaim has adopted Mrs. Klein's point of view rather 
than Freud's in seeking the basis of psychoneurosis not in one 
particular aspect of the environmental problem, but rather in the 
endopsychic development of a particular, fundaunental 'emotional 
position in object-relations' that will operate as a general factor in 


the psychic life. Mrs. Klein pushed the Oedipus situation back 
into the oral period in seeking to account for 'super-ego' pheno- 
mena or internal persecutors at that early time. Yet the Oedipus 
situation was still regarded as basically biologically conditioned. 
This is extremely doubtful. The criticisms of the 'culture-pattern' 
writers cannot be ignored on this point. Neurotic factors in the 
parents play a great part in determining whether a given child 
will develop an actual and marked libidinal fixation on the parent 
of the opposite sex coupled with hatred of the parent of the same 
sex. Subtle differences in the respective types of the mother and 
father and their resulting relationship lead to endless varieties in 
the actual patterns of Oedipus complex found in patients. Even 
with respect to the two main varieties, the Oedipus and the In- 
verted Oedipus situations, children will oscillate between them 
while they play off the mother and the father against each other. 
The final result, an Oedipus complex — an internally felt and phan- 
tasied situation that has become a persisting structural feature of a 
given mdividual mind — by no means corresponds exactly to the 
real outer parental situation. It is more akin to a final summary 
form in which the problem relationships of the child's infancy-life 
come to be preserved in his mental make-up. It would be better 
to call it the 'Family Complex', the inner representation of what 
the child ultimately comes to feel about his position vis-a-vis both 
parents and taking up into itself, as it does, his relationships with 
siblings as well. This leaves it open to discover in each individual 
case the precise form which the Family Complex has taken. But 
as regards psychoneurosis, one would have to say that this Family 
Complex, together with the symptoms that arise from it, constitute 
the substance of the neurosis rather than its cause. 

Psycho-analytic investigation had to begin with the detailed 
description of the immediately presented neurotic phenomena. 
Thus, in working out piecemeal explanations, first of symptoms 
and then of the states of mind that achieved expression in them, 
cause and effect became confused together, particularly when any 
attempt to go beyond the descriptive picture to some ultimate 
factors only led to references to 'instincts'. What was needed for 
the understanding of psychoneurosis was to see man as a 'person' 
whose nature and life consisted essentially in his relationships with 
other persons so that a study could be made of the fundamental 
difficulties and forms of personal relationship from the beginning, 
and of their effects in producing the basic trends and types in 
human personality. Such matters as sadism and masochism, sexual 
symptomatology whether oral, anal or genital, the primal scene in 
the unconscious, the castration complex, the Oedipus complex in 


any of its forms, and so on, concern the ways in which these 
fundamental trends and types of personahty manifest themselves. 
When Mrs. Klein outUned her theory of the 'depressive position' 
she described something that was ultimate, a consoHdated position 
of the psyche in its emotional Ufe in object-relations, which would 
determine its reactions throughout all stages of emotional develop- 
ment within, and human dealings without. On this basis it was 
possible to differentiate meaningfully between the neurotic and 
the mature person (relatively) as psychogenic types. It seems that 
Mrs. Klein did not recognize as clearly as E. Glover did that she 
had made a definite departure from Freud at this point. She kept 
the Oedipus Complex and the Depressive Position side by side as 
casual concepts. 

Fairbairn saw that the Oedipus complex now needed to be 
evaluated differently. He writes : 

I have departed from Freud in my evaluation of the Oedipus 
situation as an explanatory concept. For Freud, the Oedipus situa- 
tion is, so to speak, an ultimate cause; but this is a view with which 
I no longer find it possible to agree. So far from agreeing, / now 
consider that the role of ultimate cause, which Freud allotted to the 
Oedipus situation, should properly be allotted to the phenomenon of 
infantile dependence. [Present writer's italics.] In conformity with 
this standpoint, the Oedipus situation presents itself, not so much in 
the light of causal phenomenon as in the light of an end-product. 
It is not a basic situation, but a derivative of a situation which has 
priority over it not only in the logical, but also in the temporal sense. 
This prior situation is one which issues directly out of the physical 
and emotional dependence of the infant upon his mother, and which 
declares itself in the relationship of the infant to his mother long 
before his father becomes a significant object. (1952a, p. 120.) 

As compared with the Oedipus complex, the truly fundamental 
nature of Mrs. Klein's 'depressive position' may be judged from 
Fairbairn's view of the development of the Oedipus complex. He 
regards the infant as becoming ambivalent first of all to the mother 
alone, then when the father is taken into the picture the infant 
repeats this ambivalence with the father and so has two ambivalent 
objects both of which are split into good and bad objects ; gradu- 
ally by layering and fusion internal good and bad objects are 
formed in which there are both maternal and paternal com- 
ponents, and finally the infant elects to regard one parent as the 
good and the other as the bad object, so arriving at the stage of 
constituting the Oedipus situation for himself. (1952a, pp. 119- 
25.) Mrs. Klein's 'depressive position' concerns the early formation 


of a genuinely basic emotional position in object-relationship vis- 
a-vis the mother, which can and will be repeated in all future 
object-relations as a fundamental characteristic of the individual 
in question. This 'depressive position' is, in truth, an aspect of that 
infantile dependence which Fairbairn regards as the true cause of 

Fairbairn differs from Mrs. Klein with respect to the import- 
ance to be attached to the 'depressive pwDsition' by comparison with 
the phase that precedes it at the stage of infantile dependence. He 
regards the 'schizoid position' as the real foundation of all later 
psychoneurotic and indeed psychotic developments. It seems that 
Mrs. Klein has gone at least a long way towards accepting the 
validity of Fairbairn's contention though she still regards her 
'depressive position' as the 'central' one in the child's development. 
This depends on the precise meaning we attach to the term 
'central' and it might be said that in fact infantile dependence 
involves two distinguishable emotional positions : the schizoid 
position, which is fundamental in the sense that all psychopatho- 
logical developments spring from it ; and the depressive position, 
which is central in the sense that its achievement marks the point 
at which the infant begins to emerge from the pre-moral into the 
moral, or as Fairbairn would also put it, the civilized position. 

It is a clinically observable phenomenon that a patient can 
oscillate between the two positions, using each in turn as an escape 
from and a defence against the other. Thus Mrs. Klein, writing 
of an actual case in 1 934, says : 

Paranoid fears and suspicions were reinforced as a defence against 
the depressive position which was overlaid by them. 

But she immediately goes on to say : 

I must again make it clear that in my view the depressive state is 
based on the paranoid state and genetically derived from it. (1948, 
pp. 295-6.) 

Her later paper, 'Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms', in 1 946, 
reprinted in Developments in Psycho-Analysis, 1952, contained 
the already mentioned footnote, in which she adopted and com- 
bined Fairbairn's term with her own, as 'paranoid-schizoid' 
position. This footnote was appended to a paragraph in which 
Mrs. Klein stated that failure to work through the 'paranoid- 
schizoid position' could prevent the working through of the 'de- 
pressive position', leading to regression to the earlier position again. 
(Cf. ch. XII, p. 237.) If the term 'central' means 'standing at the 
crucial juncture of development where vital advances are made 


to the moral and civilized level', as the above passage implies, then 
there appears to be no difficulty from Fairbaim's point of view 
in regarding Mrs. Klein's 'depressive position' as 'central'. On the 
other hand, Mrs. Klein herself in this passage makes it clear that 
the earlier 'schizoid position' of Fairbaim is fundamental for all 
later pathological developments. 

Fairbaim himself deals with both the schizoid and depressive 
states as aspects of the psychopathology of the infantile depend- 
ence which he regards as the basic causal concept for psycho- 
neurosis. (1952a, pp. 46-58.) 

We find ourselves confronted with two basic psychopathological 
conditions, each arising out of a failure on the part of the individual 
to establish a satisfactory object-relationship during the period of 
infantile dependence. The first of these conditions, viz. the schizoid 
state, is associated with an unsatisfactory object-relationship during 
the early oral phase; and the second of these conditions, viz. the 
depressive state, is associated with an unsatisfactory object-relation- 
ship during the late oral phase. It emerges quite clearly, however, 
from the analysis of both schizoid and depressive individuals that 
unsatisfactory object-relationships during the early and late oral 
phases are most likely to give rise to their characteristic psycho- 
pathological effects when object-relationships continue to be un- 
satisfactory during the succeeding years of early childhood. The 
schizoid and depressive states must^ accordingly, be regarded as 
largely dependent upon a regressive reactivation, during subsequent 
childhood, of situations arising respectively during the early and 
late oral phases. [Present writer's italics.] The traumatic situation in 
either case is one in which the child feels that he is not really loved 
as a person, and that his own love is not accepted. (1952a, p. 55.) 

Fairbaim holds that trauma in the early oral sucking period 
leads to 'a reaction conforming to the idea' that the infant's love, 
his libidinal need of his love-object, the mother's breast, is bad 
and destructive, so that he becomes afraid to love and is pre- 
cipitated into the characteristic schizoid state. At a slightly later 
stage, trauma in the late oral biting period provokes 'a reaction 
conforming to the idea' that the infant is not loved because his 
hate is bad and destructive. Thus he becomes afraid of loving for 
fear of hating and is precipitated into a depressive state. These two 
conditions Fairbaim regards as the ultimate psychic catastrophes 
against which the psychoneuroses or techniques of the transitional 
period are attempted defences. In common with all psycho- 
analysts he regards these states as forming the psychological basis 
and content of the psychoses, so that we may say that psychosis is 


a direct manifestation of infantile dependence, while psycho- 
neurosis is a defence against that condition. 

The extent to which Fairbairn regards these facts as represent- 
ing the psychological ultimates in the realm of personality may be 
gauged from the following : 

It must be recognized, of course, that no individual bom into this 
world is so fortunate as to enjoy a perfect object-relationship during 
the impressionable period of infantile dependence, or for that matter 
during the transition period which succeeds it. Consequently, no 
one ever becomes completely emancipated from the state of infantile 
dependence, or from some proportionate degree of oral fixation ; and 
there is no one who has completely escaped the necessity of incorpor- 
ating his early objects. It may consequently be inferred that there is in 
everyone either an underlying schizoid or an underlying depressive 
tendency, according as it was in the early or in the late oral phase that 
difficulties chiefly attended infantile object-relationships. We are thus 
introduced to the conception that every individual may be classified 
as falling into one of two basic psychological types — the schizoid and 
the depressive. (1952a, p. 56.) 

He regards this as the truth underlying Jung's classification into 
'introvert' and 'extravert' types, and Kretschmer's classification 
into 'schizothymic' and 'cyclothymic' types. We could construct a 
triangle in which the two bases represent the extreme schizoid and 
depressive states while the apex represents theoretical perfect 
maturity. In such a diagram every conceivable position — psy- 
chotic, psychoneurotic and relatively mature — could be plotted, in- 
cluding the possibiHties of mixed types in which oscillations be- 
tween many different ultimate and defensive reactions occur in the 
struggle towards maturity. 

It remains to make clear that the two chief general character- 
istics of infantile dependence aire secondary identification and oral 
incorporativeness. Secondary identification is a regressive reactiva- 
tion, in face of later difficulties, of the state of f eehng of the unborn 
infant's primary emotional identification in the womb with the 
mother of whom it is actually a part. This kind of feefing in later 
life gives rise to what may be called 'the safe inside policy' and it 
can produce striking clinical manifestations. The agoraphobic 
patient particularly seeks to set up an equivalent of being 'safe 
inside' the protective mother. Agoraphobia is a flight back to the 
womb and fear of being reborn, so that the patient is afraid ,to 
venture out of the house or far from something supporting to hold 
on to. This tendency of identification leads to the swallowing up 
or absorbing of the personahty in that of other people. One patient, 


who has a ferocious hate of her own — i.e. her mother's — sex, 
vilifies and physically attacks her own body. But in her deep feel- 
ings her body repnresents to her the mother's body and she feels like 
a tiny thing imprisoned inside it. A patient previously cited 
dreamed of being physically grafted on to a father-figure, and 
commented that whenever anyone important to her went away, 
she felt as if the bottom had dropped out of her. Thus, this state 
of identification with another person so that it seems impossible to 
live without that other person leaves the patient extremely vulner- 
able and at the mercy of whatever happens to the 'parent-figure'. 
Identification may be supportive so long as the other person is 
secure, but it undermines as soon as the other person is absent, fails, 
is ill or dies. Then the utter incapacity of the patient to feel that 
he has any life in himself that is properly his own is thrown into 
stark relief. But identification may be just as undermining in 
another way when the other person is not being lost. For it is not 
an unusual thing to find that patients who suffer from strong 
feelings of identification in their infantile dependence on parents 
lose all trace of any personality of their own when they are in the 
presence of the parent with whom they feel identified. They will 
report that as soon as they go home they become lifeless, silent, 
tired and a nonentity. 

So identification comes to represent not only a flight to safety 
(expressed by one man as a longing to retire from business to a 
quiet lonely little hotel in the Lakes), but also being swallowed up 
by and in another person. Thus one male patient began to develop 
a good friendship with another man in a hostel where he lived, 
and then suddenly felt a violent aversion from him and avoided 
him. He then had a dream in which he was pursued by a mon- 
strous mouth which swallowed him and he fought and cut his way 
out again. Infantile dependence includes not only the factor of 
identification which originates before birth, but also the factor of 
oral incorporation from the breast which is added to identification 
after birth. These two mingle and alternate. Identification with 
the mother is felt to be both the mother swallowing the infant and 
the infant swallowing the mother. All relationships are felt as both 
a mutual swallowing and a mutual merging, and the patient is 
never quite sure at any given moment whether he feels most as 
if he is being swallowed or doing the swallowing. A male patient 
remarked that the sexual relationship between him and his wife 
was so intense that it felt like mutual cannibalism. Thus the patient 
in a state of marked infantile dependence is always both inor- 
dinately possessive towards the love-object and yet feels helplessly 
dependent and loses personality to the love-object. A great deal of 


aggressive reaction comes out of a struggle not to surrender to 
infantile dependent relationship with its dangers to the adult self. 
One ought rather to say dangers to the adult role, for the patient 
is in the position all the time of having to force himself to the main- 
tenance of an adult role while feeling like a child inside. 

The agoraphobic patient who is 'safe inside' and afraid to be 
bom may alternate with the claustrophobic patient who feels 
smothered inside and is in such a hurry to be born that he repu- 
diates all dependencies whatsoever. Thus a male patient had a 
long series of dreams in which he was in prison and overpowering 
his guard and breaking out to be free, only to be retaken and put 
back in prison again. The series culminated with a big dream of 
being in prison in an ancestral castle ; a young man (another part 
of himself) came and gave him a file to cut the window bars and 
escape, but he said, T don't need that. The doors are not locked.' 
The visitor said, 'Then why don't you escape?' He answered, 
'Look out of the window, see how dangerous it is out there ; how 
would I be if I found myself out there all alone', and at that 
moment he became aware of his mother standing behind him as 
the jaileress. But she was not holding him; he was staying with 
her, and yet all the time longing to break away. This fundamental 
conflict between dependent and independent needs in the im- 
mature personality is regarded by Fairbaim as the ultimate con- 

The essence of psychopathology in Fairbaim's view may be 
summarized as follows : it is essential that a child should be helped 
to develop a self-confident and strong individuahty of his own, as 
a person in his own right capable of entering into relationships 
with other persons without danger to his own integrity as a person. 
Whatever hinders this development to mature adulthood forces 
the child to seek security in dependence on some other person 
instead of being able to feel secure in reliance on the sense of 
growing adequacy and ability in himself. He is driven back into 
a regressive revival of his original infantile dependence on his 
parents — and at bottom his mother — in his deeper feelings, and 
identification and oral incorporativeness dominate his unconscious 
reactions thereafter in all personal relationships. In order to cope 
at all with the day-to-day necessities of his outer Uf e as he continues 
to grow up under the pressure of others' expectations of him, he is 
forced to construct in consciousness an apparently adult self or 
role, and drive himself by unremitting self-control to maintain it. 
This over-compensation for the infant within cannot, however, 
be stable because it does not grow from deep roots in mature 
emotional development. Fear of the break-through of the 'child 


underneath', with his utter need and demand for absolute support 
to the accompaniment of infantile greed and hate, precipitates 
strong tendencies to develop either schizoid or depressed states of 
mind, and sets going the defences of psychoneurotic techniques 
— obsessional, paranoid, hysteric or phobic — in proportion as 
straight repression fails. Underlying all is the deep unconscious 
dread of parting with, losing, the internalized bad objects because 
they represent the parents whom it is impossible to do without ; this 
is a factor that causes the final resistance to all efforts to efifect a 
'cure' of the total condition. All the phenomena which psycho- 
analysis has investigated in such wealth of detail, the oral, anal and 
genital phantasy and symptomatology, the sadistic and maso- 
chistic trends, the castration and Oedipus complexes, the defence 
'mechanisms', resistances, transferences, dreams, 'acting out' and 
behaviour disorders along with psychopathological character 
traits and types, all these are in fact but details of the fundamental 
problem in its working out, the struggle of the infant to grow out 
of his starting-point in total dependence on the mother, and in 
face of the frustrations, deprivations and bad-object relationships 
incidental to inadequate parenthood to grow to an adult person- 
ality. Fairbairn's theory of libidinal development from infantile 
dependence to mature dependence in the setting of object-rela- 
tionships orders and simpHfies the whole complex field of psycho- 
pathological phenomena. 

One further matter must be mentioned. Melanie Klein brought 
aggression to the fore as par excellence the pathogenic factor and 
traced it through sadistic component instincts to the death instinct. 
While retaining all the discoveries concerning the endopsychic 
operations of aggression, Fairbairn returned to the original Freud- 
ian view that libidinal need is the primary drive. Thus he writes : 

According to my view, ambivalence is not itself a primal state, but 
one which arises as a reaction to deprivation and frustration. Thus I 
do not consider that in the absence of frustration the infant would 
direct aggression spontaneously towards his libidinal object. Accord- 
ingly, whilst I regard aggression as a primary dynamic factor in that 
it does not appear capable of being resolved into libido, I also regard 
it as ultimately subordinate to libido, and essentially representing a 
reaction on the part of the infant to deprivation and frustration in 
his libidinal relationships — and more particularly to the trauma of 
separation from his mother. It is thus the experience of libidinal 
deprivation and frustration that originally calls forth the infant's 
aggression towards his libidinal object and so gives rise to ambival- 
ence. (1952a, pp. 1 7 1-2.) 


As we shall see in the next chapter, aggression turned inwards 
plays a great part in producing the internal differentiations that 
result in endopsychic structure : though the libidinal self is the 
foundation of everything. 

7. Comparison with Rank's 'Birth Trauma' Theory 

Since, superficially, there may appear to be some similarity 
between Fairbaim's theory of Infantile Dependence as the cause 
of neurosis, and Rank's theory of Birth Trauma, it may be well to 
deal with this here. The essentials of the problem posed by Rank's 
theory are clearly set forth by Ernest Jones. (1957, pp. 60-81.) 
Concerning Freud's paper, 'The Dissolution of the Oedipus Com- 
plex' (1924) Jones remarks: 'Ferenczi assumed from the strong 
word Untergang in the title that Freud was combating Rank's 
tendency to replace the Oedipus Complex by the Birth Trauma as 
the essential aetiological factor in the neuroses' (p. 114). [Present 
writer's italics.] Freud regarded the painful process of birth as 
creating the basic pattern of anxiety reactions and Rank proceeded 
to treat this as the primary trauma which created neurosis. The 
rest of life was one long struggle to undo or overcome its results, 
and psycho-analysis could be shortened by concentrating on un- 
masking this birth trauma. Treatment and cure would then appear 
as a process of rebirth. In a letter to Abraham, 15th February, 
1924, Freud wrote : 

I do not hesitate to say that I regard this work as highly sig- 
nificant, that it has given me much to think about, and that I have 
not yet come to a definite judgment about it. We have long been 
familiar with womb phantasies and recognized their importance, but 
in the prominence that Rank has given them they achieve a far 
higher significance and reveal in a flash the biological background of 
the Oedipus complex. To repeat it in my own language : some in- 
stinct must be associated with the birth trauma which aims at restor- 
ing the previous existence. One might call it the urge for happiness, 
understanding there that the concept 'happiness' is mostly used in 
an erotic meaning. Rank now goes further than psychopathology, 
and shows how men alter the outer world in the service of this in- 
stinct, whereas neurotics save themselves this trouble by taking the 
short cut of phantasying a return to the womb. (Jones, 1957, p. 64.) 

Freud regarded the obstacle to this neurotic, phantasied regression 
to the womb as part of the general barrier against incest, and as 
arising from the prohibition of the father — ^i.e. Oedipal guilt and 
anxiety — whereas Rank regarded 'the anxiety opposing incest as 


simply a rq^etition of the anxiety at birth'. {Ibid., p. 64.) Freud 
further added : 'It is not clear to me how the premature interpret- 
ing of the transference as an attachment to the mother can con- 
tribute to shortening the analysis.' {Ibid., p. 65.) In a further letter 
to Abraham, 3rd March, 1924, Freud wrote : 

Let us take the most extreme case, that Ferenczi and Rank make 
a direct assertion that we have been wrong in pausing at the Oedipus 
complex. The real decision is to be found in the birth trauma, and 
whoever had not overcome that would come to shipwreck in the 
Oedipus situation. Then instead of our actual aetiology of the 
neuroses we should have one conditioned by physiological accidents, 
since those who became neurotic would be either the children who 
had suffered a specially severe birth trauma or had brought to the 
world an organization specially sensitive to trauma. {Ibid., p. 67.) 

Freud's criticisms of the Birth Trauma theory were decisive and 
Rank's views failed to convince. What was important, however, 
was that they had taken much fuller account than hitherto of pre- 
Oedipal and earliest infantile material. After the pubhcation of 
Freud's Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety, 1926, Jones wrote to 
Freud : 'You were wise enough to do what none of us others could 
do : namely to learn something from it all by allowing Rank's 
views to work on you in a stimulating and fruitful way.' {Ibid., 

P- 75-) 

Since those days the tendency has gathered increasing strength 

to seek farther back than the three to five years Oedipal phase for 
the origins of psychopathological developments. Melanie Klein's 
work was the major move in that direction so far as clinical investi- 
gation was concerned. Fairbaim has drawn the necessary theoreti- 
cal inferences from this shift of emphasis from the genital Oedipal 
to the oral infantile stage. Like Rank he holds that Freud was 
'wrong in pausing at the Oedipus complex' in search of the aeti- 
ology of neurosis. But, unlike Rank, he has not arbitrarily picked 
out one fact, such as the process of physical birth, as the cause of 
all later troubles. He has rather surveyed the detailed processes of 
development throughout the whole infancy period to discover the 
fundamental pattern of disturbance. The Oedipus complex falls 
into place as the late and fairly elaborately developed form of 
trouble that began earlier, at a stage when the good and bad, or 
exciting and rejecting, objects were not the mother and father, but 
two aspects of the mother herself. 

The material with which Rank dealt, such as phantasies of a 
return to the womb and of rebirth, and the agoraphobic and 
claustrophobic anxieties associated with them, is explained by 


Fairbaim not by means of an unproved reference to a physical 
birth trauma, but in a fully psychological way, by reference to 
emotionally traumatic object-relations. The infant, having been 
bom, begins to take the first and natural steps in the development 
of his own personality, a process which he is well able to accom- 
plish provided he has a secure emotional environment in which to 
grow. If, however, as childhood proceeds he becomes more and 
more insecure, and is driven to find safety not in growing inner 
strength through good-object relationships but in clinging to 
parents as a protection in the midst of bad-object relations and his 
own highly disturbed reactions to them, then healthy development 
is frustrated and the child is pushed into regressing more and 
more at deep unconscious levels to a revived state of infantile 
dependence on the mother. This whole complex inner situation 
thereafter remains under repression as the root cause of all psycho- 
pathological developments. Fairbaim's Infantile Dependence 
with its implications is the correct answer to the problems with 
which Rank's Birth Trauma theory first sought to grapple. 

Emotional involvements in Oedipal relationships are the form 
taken by Infantile Dependence on parents (and basically on the 
mother) at the post-oral period. The urge to 'restore the previous 
existence' is not an 'instinct' but a regression to find security when 
the path of forward development is blocked by bad-object relation- 
ships in reality. The child who cannot overcome this revival of or 
return to 'Infantile Dependence' will 'come to shipwreck in the 
Oedipal situation'. Womb phantasies may well, in the last resort, 
represent 'the biological background of the Oedipus complex', but 
their chnical importance lies in the fact that they represent an 
immediate expression of a profound active infantile dependent 
trend involving the quest for security by identification with and 
absorption into anodier personality, and often in real life the 
espousal of a passive policy of longing for 'security inside' in any 
obtainable shape or form. 

One point in which Fairbaim has nothing at all in common 
with Rank is the latter's superficial idea that such deep matters 
could be quickly brought to consciousness in a short analysis of a 
few months by what could only be merely intellectual explana- 

Chapter XV 




W E have traced how Fairbaim worked out a full-scale revision of 
the classical libido theory, or theory of psychodynamic develop- 
ment, on the basis of the view that libido was primarily and in- 
herently object-seeking, not pleasure-seeking. For Freud, pleasure 
meant basically the experience of organic de-tensioning, so that 
Fairbaim shifted the emphasis from the organism to the person, 
and from psychophysical processes to personal relationships. He 
presented the problem of normal development as that of growing 
out of the starting-point of infantile dependence on the mother 
to a capacity for the mature dependence of 'equals' in an adult 
relationship. Correspondingly the problems of psychopathological 
development are seen to represent various kinds of failure to out- 
grow infantile dependence, so that the physically and intellectually 
'grown up' person is compelled to struggle to sustain an adult role 
with emotional equipment of an insecure child. 

At this point a further problem arose. By what means, and in 
what form, does this infantile dependence persist in the psyche 
after infancy itself is past ? This represents the problem of mental 
organization or Endopsychic Structure as the necessary comple- 
ment to the Libido Theory which represents the nature of 
emotional development. He turned to this further problem in the 
two papers of 1943-4, 'The Repression and the Return of Bad 
Objects' (1952a, ch. Ill) and 'Endopsychic Structure Considered 
in Terms of Object-Relationships' (1952a, ch. IV.) The material 
used by psycho-analysis is mental content presented mainly in the 
form of phantasy, but this has an enduring basis in the structural 
organization of the psyche, which it represents. It was Melanie 


Klein's contribution to explore infantile phantasy and to recognize 
from that material the fact that the ego had relationships with 
mentally internahzed objects both good and bad. Here were the 
beginnings of a revision of the theory of endopsychic structure, 
but Mrs. Klein did not consider the bearings of her discoveries on 
the orthodox id-ego-super-ego theory. Ernest Jones writes : 

In spite of the basic contributions Freud made to the study of the 
origins of the super-ego it has proved more complex than was at first 
expected. When I reviewed the problems a few years later (E. Jones, 
'The Origin and Structure of the Super-ego', /./., 1926, VII, 303-1 1), 
Freud wrote to me : *A11 the obscurities and difficulties you describe 
really exist. But they are not to be improved even with the points 
of view you emphasize. They need completely fresh investigations, 
accumulated impressions and experiences, and I know how hard it 
is to obtain these. Your essay is a dark beginning in a complicated 
matter. (1957, p. 308.) 

We have traced the beginnings of criticism by orthodox writers of 
the original concepts of the id, the ego and the super-ego. The 
'completely fresh investigations', however, that Freud called for 
began with the work of Mrs. Klein and were carried to the point 
where Fairbaim could bring another fresh mind to the problem 
and using 'internal-objects theory' could revise Freud's structural 
theory. Mrs. Klein had concentrated on 'phantasy' which was 
expounded by Susan Isaacs as the direct representative of instinct. 
That kind of approach no doubt explains why Kleinian writers did 
not re-consider endopsychic structure theory afresh, since if 
phantasy is simply the direct representative of instinct, then it is an 
'id-phenomenon' and as such fits neatly into the Freudian scheme. 
Fairbaim, however, applying Kleinian views more radically than 
Kleinians themselves had done, states : 

Unless it is assumed that internalized objects are structures, the 
conception of the existence of such objects becomes utterly meaning- 
less. (1952a, p. 95.) 

On this view, phantasy is primarily a revelation of endopsychic 

His first step was to reconsider the theory of repression in the 
light of the priority of object-relations over instincts. His approach 
was determined by his fundamental assumptions, namely (i) that 
'The pristine personality of the child consists of a unitary dynamic 
ego' (1954, p. 107); (2) that this whole ego is motivated by its 
primary libidinal need of good-object relationships ; (3) that in so 
far as it obtains these, good-ego development results, but that 


(4) bad-object relationships, leading as they do to internalization 
of objects, set up processes of inner differentiation and thereby 
structural development and organization of the psyche. The prob- 
lem, then, was to show in what way the relationships of the ego 
with its internalized objects created a basic pattern of endopsychic 
structure by means of which the experiences of infancy were per- 
petuated in the psyche and the problem of infantile dependence 
in later life made intelligible. By 1931 Fairbaim had realized the 
importance of the loss of unity in the ego. His attention now 
turned to the internalized objects to seek light on this problem, in 
the 1943 paper, 'The Repression and the Return of Bad Objects'. 
He directed psychopathological enquiry not now upon impulse 
or the ego but upon the object, in the way that Mrs. Klein's theory 
of internal objects made possible. He came to the conclusion that 

what are primarily repressed are neither intolerably guilty impulses 
nor intolerably unpleasant memories, but intolerably bad internalized 
objects. If memories are repressed, accordingly, this is only because 
the objects involved in such memories are identified with bad internal- 
ized objects; and, if impulses are repressed, this is only because the 
objects with which such impulses impel the individual to have a 
relationship are bad objects from the standpoint of the ego. Actually, 
the position as regards the repression of impulses would appear to 
be as follows. Impulses become bad if they are directed towards bad 
objects. If such bad objects are internalized, then the impulses 
directed towards them are internalized; and the repression of in- 
ternalized bad objects thus involves the repression of impulses as a 
concomitant phenomenon. It must be stressed, however, that what 
are primarily repressed are bad internalized objects. (1952a, pp. 

This conclusion involves two others of far-reaching importance. 
First, since impulses are not isolated entities within the psyche but 
are the impulses of the ego, they can be repressed only by repress- 
ing part of the ego whose impulses they are. This involves the 
splitting of the ego, and its basis is the ego's cathexis of the bad 
internalized objects which are repressed. Since internalized objects 
are themselves formed by the splitting up of the mental repre- 
sentation of the external object into bad and good imagos, we 
arrive at the position that it is the internalizing and spHtting of 
objects that leads to the splitting of the ego, and what the theory 
of endopsychic structure must aim at is to clarify the fundamental 
pattern, however complex, of the internal relationships of the dis- 
united ego with its internalized objects. This will be equivalent to 
an explanation of how infantile dependence is perpetuated in the 


psyche, and of the emotional constitution of the personality as 
rooted in its need-systems. 

Secondly, if what are primarily repressed are bad internalized 
objects, then the dynamic of repression is the aggression felt in the 
first place against the bad external object. Repression was origin- 
ally regarded as due to the fact that certain impulses were not 
acceptable to the conscious ego and were rejected at the instance 
of guilt. Fairbaim, however, arrived at the view that repression 
originates in a more primitive situation than that, one in which 
there can as yet be no question of the rejection of what is not 
approved by the socialized self on the moral or civilized level; 
rather, it is a situation in which the primitive ego angrily rejects 
what is not satisfying to itself, what is simply unpleasant, intoler- 
able, bad in the purely emotional sense. Thus Fairbaim's theory 
of repression envisages two levels or stages, the earlier and more 
primitive of which is pre-moral, and the later is moral or civilized. 
We shall deal with these two stages in the above order. 

I . The Pattern of Endopsychic Structure 

Just as internal objects became observable to Melanie Klein 
when, in treatment, she succeeded in releasing the phantasy-life 
of the child in various forms of play, so the basic pattern of this 
life of internal object-relations was recognized by Fairbaim in 
dreams, the secret mental play of the adult patient. Here the dis- 
unities and conflicts of the inner world come to view, and give us 
a picture of the psychic forces that are played out in real life in 
symptom-formation and in disturbed behaviour. Since theory is 
an abstraction from clinical data, it may be as well first of all to 
represent in concrete form the loss of internal unity that we seek 
to understand in structural terms. Integration has always been 
one of the key words in setting forth the aims of psycho-analytic 
therapy. The theory of endopsychic structure seeks to give an 
account of the fundamental pattern of disintegration with which 
psychotherapy has to deal. 

We may illustrate this by the phenomenon long known as 'split 
libido'. The commonest example of this is the case of the man who 
feels no sexual attraction towards a wife whom he loves in an 
affectionate manner, and is only capable of feeling sexually ex- 
cited by a woman he does not truly love and whom he may in fact 
hate, despise and treat with varying degrees of aggressive be- 
haviour. His relationship with this woman may vary from pleasur- 
able sexual excitement, through different degrees of sadistic fusion 
of sexual and aggressive feeling, to frank disgust, bad treatment, 


hate and rejection, but none of these reactions disturb his relation- 
ship with his wife whom he does respect and love, albeit in a calm 
and much more neutral way. A variation on this 'split hbido' 
theme is provided by a case I have quoted elsewhere. 

A male patient reports that his relationship with his wife is one of 
constant rows and antagonism, while he finds another woman at 
work sexually exciting; but neither of them are his ideal woman for 
a wife. His ideal wife is clearly described in terms of the internal 
ideal object who is perfectly supporting but in no way emotionally 
disturbing. His actual wife is the rejecting object and the other 
woman is the exciting object. Hereby he reveals the tripartite split 
in his own ego setting up needs for three quite different types of 
women. (1956a, p. 98.) 

In fact the relationship was more complicated than that, for he 
could change round his objects, so that at times his wife was the 
sexually exciting woman and the woman at work roused his anger. 
Since he felt marked guilt and anxiety concerning aggressiveness, 
sexual or otherwise, towards a woman, he at least lessened that 
difficulty by keeping up a sharp separation between the woman 
towards whom he felt sexual and the woman towards whom he 
felt aggressive. Always both of them had to be quite separate from 
his phantasied ideal wife. All variations on this theme disclose, 
when carefully studied, the same threefold division, though some- 
times it takes the form, not of real life relationships with two or 
three different types of woman^ but the alternation of three dif- 
ferent moods or reactions towards the same woman, who is seen in 
turn as the woman to be sexually excited by, the woman to hate 
and the woman to be affectionate towards. Thus it is a commonly 
recognized fact that many men will turn with disgust from the 
woman as soon as they have had a sexual relationship with her, 
while in other cases a couple may have to quarrel violently before 
they can feel sexual towards each other. Always, however, there is 
the third type of relationship, of respect, consideration and duty 
without any strong emotion. 

Now these common clinical phenomena cannot any longer be 
called merely 'spUt Hbido' problems, for on the basis of object- 
relations theory, we must think of 'Hbido' as the libidinal quest of 
an ego for an object. If the libidinal striving is 'split', then it can 
only be because the ego itself is 'split' and has lost its unity. We 
are, in fact, presented here with a case of a tripartite split in the 
libidinal object which is matched by a similar split in the ego. The 
Freudian Oedipus situation and complex is one of the forms taken 
by this threefold sphtting of ego and object. The mother of the 


male patient will enter into his dreams as the woman who is 
sexually exciting, while the father will emerge as the hated pmiish- 
ing aggressor ; on the conscious level an attitude of dutiful affec- 
tion without strong feeling towards both of them is preserved. One 
such patient remembered clearly how as a small boy he was for 
ever following his mother about asking her if she loved him and 
feeling most intense longings for her, while he remembers his 
father mainly as sl stem, angry man, a memory by no means 
realistic or fair to the father in question. But this same patient also, 
in one dream, suddenly found himself face to face in his boyhood 
home with his mother frowning at him in an irate and frightening 
way. It is often possible to discover the figure of the angry, rejec- 
tive mother hidden behind the angry, rejective father in Oedipus 
dreams, making it the more easy to recognize that these images of 
the exciting and angry or otherwise rejective figures were origin- 
ally aspects of one and the same person who has been split in 
mental representation. Oedipus and inverted Oedipus complexes, 
and homosexual relationships and dreams, are all susceptible of 
reduction to this basic pattern of a threefold splitting of the object- 
relationship life. 

We can observe in the phantasy-life how the ego is split into 
three different egos, which accounts for the fact that the dreamer 
very commonly enters into the dream in more than one role at the 
same time. Each of these egos is to be found reacting to its own 
appropriate object, and these objects similarly turn out to be dif- 
ferent aspects of one and the same object in outer reality in their 
origin. In a very close and detailed analysis of one striking dream, 
Fairbaim has shown how these internal ego-object relationships 
exist together and interact on the stage of inner psychic reality. 
(1952a, pp. 94-105.) In order to systematize and clarify these 
inner complexities of psychic constitution, he was forced to evolve 
a terminology that differed from Freud's by now too simplified 
ego-id-super-ego scheme. As we have seen, that terminology only 
allows for one internal object-relationship, that between the ego 
and the super-ego. The id, being impersonal, cannot be dealt with 
as either ego or object but merely as unstructured raw psychic 
material, an impossibility on the theory of 'dynamic structure'. 
This scheme is no longer adequate to cover all the complexities of 
psychic functioning, and has been regarded by many writers, 
including Freud himself, as requiring further development. Fair- 
bairn's terminology constitutes a revised theory of endopsychic 
structure called for by fuller clinical data. The first stage in the 
development of this theory was Freud's concepts of the ego and 
super-ego. The second stage was Melanie Klein's work on the 


multiplicity of internal objects, making plain the as yet ill-under- 
stood complexity of the super-ego. The third stage is Fairbaim's 
contribution of a full object-relations theory of endopsychic 
structure in which he correlates the splittings of the ego and the 
object in the internal development of the infant psyche, producing 
what he terms 'the basic endopsychic situation'. (1952a, p. 106.) 
His theory eliminates the anomalous and impersonal 'id', reduces 
to fundamental order Mrs. Klein's multiplicity of internal objects, 
and shows how the internal organization of the psyche proceeds as 
the infant struggles to grow out of his original total dependence 
upon the mother under the influence of such good, bad or in- 
different parental and familial object-relationships as are available 
to him. 

Fairbaim writes : 

It is necessary for us to remind ourselves of the importance of the 
part played by an incorporative attitude at the stage (i.e. of Infantile 
Dependence) from which transition is being attempted. This incor- 
porative attitude manifests itself, not only in the ingestion of milk, 
but also in the psychological internalization of objects, i.e. the psy- 
chological incorporation of representations of objects into the psy- 
chical structure. (1952a, p. 146.) 

His definition of 'the psychological internalization of objects', 
namely as the process whereby 'the psychological incorporation 
of representations of objects into the psychical structure' [present 
writer's italics] takes place, is important for making clear just 
how and where his theory makes an advance on the work of Mrs. 
Klein. He writes : 

Melanie Klein has never satisfactorily explained how phantasies 
of incorporating objects orally can give rise to the establishment of 
internal objects as endopsychic structures — and, unless they are such 
structures, they cannot be properly spoken of as internal objects at 
all, since otherwise they will remain mere figments of phantasy. 
(1952a, p. 154.) 

Of Mrs. Klein's work in general Fairbaim remarks that 'in certain 
important respects she had failed to push her views to their logical 
conclusions'. (1952a, p. 154.) These 'important respects' he re- 
gards as including her retention of Freud's hedonistic libido story 
and impulse-psychology, and Abraham's theory of libidinal de- 
velopment. To these must also be added her not applying her 
'internal-objects theory' to the revision of the theory of psychic 

The internal developments in infancy which result in the 


elaboration of a complex structural pattern for which Fairbaim 
sought a more adequate descriptive terminology proceed accord- 
ing to his view as follows : in so far as good-object relationships 
lead to strong ego-development, the infant passes from infantile 
to mature dependence on his objects, including passing from an 
oral incorporative to a genital co-operative attitude to his hetero- 
sexual object. In any complete sense that is an unattained ideal, a 
theoretical perfection only to be approximated in practice. In 
reality, all human infants encounter varying degrees of bad-object 
relationship, and developments on the basis of disturbed emotional 
reactions take place. The maternal object, on account of her un- 
satisfying aspects, is internalized mentally, and spht into an 
accepted and a rejected object, thus giving rise to ambivalence. 
The rejected object is further split into two separate imagos in 
virtue of her having both an exciting and a rejecting aspect. The 
mother's capacity to excite the child's needs is, however, here 
associated with her rejective failure to satisfy them, so that both 
the exciting and the rejective objects are bad objects. The child's 
realistic anger and aggression against the mother who excites 
needs which she does not meet, then becomes the dynamic of the 
child's internal struggle to reject the bad object whom he feels 
rejects him ; i.e. his aggression becomes the dynamic of his repres- 
sion of both the Exciting Object and the Rejecting Object (E.O. 
and R.O.). The remainder of the original object, shorn of its dis- 
turbing, exciting and rejecting aspects, is then retained as a good 
object in an idealized form at the level of consciousness, and is 
called by Fairbairn the Ideal Object (I.O.). While the E.O. and 
R.O. are repressed into the unconscious as bad figures, the I.O. is 
projected back into the real external objects, and every effort is 
made to see the actual mother (and later father and other external 
objects) as a good, undisturbing figure in the outer world. The real 
parent is 'idealized' in equal proportion to the badness of the bad 
parent figures who have been repressed. 

Corresponding to this tripartite splitting of the internalized 
object, there inevitably follows a similar tripartite splitting of the 
originally whole and unitary ego. The ego at first cathects the 
whole object, and continues to cathect the parts into which it is 
split ; but this involves the ego in disunity, conflict, division. When 
the E.O. is repressed, part of the ego which remains attached to it 
by reason of the libidinal need which it excites becomes repressed 
with it. It is appropriate to call this the Libidinal Ego (L.E.), since 
it is that part of the ego in which is chiefly concentrated the ego's 
primary urge towards the good object. This L.E. is, however, in a 
constant state of unsatisfied desire, so that its need becomes ever 


more aggressively orally incorporative and it is drawn back ever 
more deeply into the revival of the original primary identification 
with the mother in proportion as no satisfying objective relation- 
ship is obt2Lined in reality. It is in the repressed L.E. that Infantile 
Dependence persists most obviously as an undermining under- 
current in the adult personality. 

Furthermore, when the R.O. is repressed, that too remains 
cathected by a part of the ego which also goes into repression along 
with it. If the relationship between the L.E. and the E.O. is a 
double one, consisting partly of oral incorporative desire and 
partly of identification, the relationship between the R.O. and 
that part of the ego which still cathects it under repression is pre- 
dominantly one of identification. Little else is permitted by the 
rejective nature of the object. Direct libidinal desire could at best 
only take the form of distant admiration of the 'ruthless strength' 
of the R.O. Identification is always an alternative to and a sub- 
stitute for object-relationship, when it is revived in its secondary 
form. By reason of this identification, the part of the ego that still 
sustains under repression a relationship to the R.O. itself takes on 
rejective characteristics. In real life it manifests itself as the ten- 
dency to reproduce all the undesirable characteristics of the cold, 
harsh, domineering, aggressive, neglectful or otherwise 'bad 
object' aspect of the unsatisfactory parent. Thus, when it pre- 
dominates in the personality it crushes out all manifestations of 
libidinal desire and affectionate feeling and sabotages the love- 
life of an aggressive character. For that reason Fairbaim at first 
called it the Internal Saboteur (I.S.) a descriptive rather than 
scientific term, which is, however, extremely valuable in clarifying 
the actual role that this part of the ego plays. Fairbaim now calls 
this secondary ego the Anti-Libidinal Ego (Anti-L.E.), an accurate 
term that has the advantage of making clear the fact that this part 
of the personality plays a persecutory role in relationship to the 
L.E. It is, in fact, the sadistic super-ego of Melanie Klein and 
Freud, arousing sheer terror in the primary Hbidinally needy part 
of the personahty (L.E.). Infantile Dependence is secretly present 
in, though outwardly repudiated by, the Anti-L.E. 

Repression, however, is in the first place carried out by that 
remainder of the original ego as it rejects the L.E. and Anti-L.E. 
which are split off. This remainder Fairbaim terms the Central 
Ego (G.E.), and he regards it as cathecting the I.O. whom it takes 
as the model of its Ego-Ideal. It is aggressively rejective to the E.O. 
and R.O. and also to the L.E. and Anti-L.E., using its own 
original aggression against the external object in real life as the 
motive force of its power to repress. We have, therefore, three 


pairs of object-relationships embodied in the structure of the per- 
sonality. A G.E. projects its I.O. into outer reality, while two sub- 
sidiary egos cathect the E.O. and R.O. in the unconscious and 
feel hungry love and hate. Both of these are repressed by the C.E., 
and in addition the L.E. is further repressed by the bitterly 
antagonistic Anti-L.E. (or I.S.). This latter phenomenon Fair- 
bairn calls indirect repression. It is a persecutory repression 
in terms of terror. One can see this in operation in the case of one 
patient who became excessively anxious and afraid to show any 
weakness in a crisis of great need, and attacked both herself and 
me angrily in the words : 'I'm not going to come creeping and 
crawling to you for help. Damn you, Til show you I can do with- 
out you.' It is not by any means obvious to the patient in such a 
state of mind that this violent 'negative transference' against the 
analyst actually involves an unconscious terrifying attack upon his 
or her own libidinal self. The repression of both the L.E. and the 
Anti-L.E. by the G.E. is then further elaborated on a later de- 
veloped, moral and civilized level, in terms of guilt. 

2. Analysis of the Super-Ego 

To whatever extent a given individual has not attained suf- 
ficient maturity and integration to be capable of carrying on his 
everyday life and its normal human relationships without tensions 
arising from internal disturbance, he seeks to make life as emotion- 
ally workable as possible by endeavouring to relate himself to 
significant persons as I.O.s. The G.E. is the self of everyday life. 
Fairbaim writes : 

The central ego's 'accepted object', being shorn of its over-exciting 
and over-rejecting elements, assumes the form of a desexualized and 
idealized object which the central ego can safely love after divesting 
itself of the elements which give rise to the libidinal ego and the in- 
ternal saboteur. It is significant, accordingly, that this is just the sort 
of object into which the hysterical patient seeks to convert the analyst 
— and the sort of object into which the child seeks to convert his 
parents, usually with a considerable measure of success. It now 
seems to me, therefore, that this is the object which forms the nucleus 
of the super-ego as I have come to conceive it (in contrast to 'the 
internal saboteur'). It would, however, seem more appropriate to the 
nature of this object to describe it as 'the ego-ideal' rather than 'the 
super-ego' (and thus to revive the earlier term). (1952a, pp. 135-6.) 

Fairbaim is here raising the question of the complexity of the 
super-ego, a problem that was opened up by Alexander, and by 


Haitmann, Kris and Loewenstein and considered by Jones and 
by Freud himself. So far as Freud's views are concerned Fairbaim 
holds that under the heading of repression Freud dealt mainly 
with the attack of the Anti-L.E. on the L.E., which Fairbaim 
designates 'indirect repression'. He writes that his 

differentiation of ego-structure corresponds roughly to Freud's ac- 
count of the mental apparatus — the central ego corresponding to 
Freud's *ego', the libidinal ego to Freud's 'id' and the internal 
saboteur to Freud's 'super-ego'. (1952a, p. 171.) 

The difficulty of the Freudian 'super-ego' concept was early seen 
to be that it included two quite different elements^ both of which 
operated as controlling factors in the psyche but one of which was 
moral and the other quite non-moral or even immoral in the sense 
of being sadistically cruel. In the light of Fairbaim's more detailed 
analysis of mental structure it is now possible to recognize that 
what he calls the I.S. or Anti-L.E. is the sadistic component in- 
cluded in the Freudian super-ego, while the C.E. deriving values 
from the I.O. which functions as an ego ideal is responsible for 
the moral component. The sadistic Anti-L.E. is the primitive, re- 
pressed and unconscious part of the 'super-ego' and is to that 
extent ineducable. The C.E. is open to the influences of education 
and can develop a maturing conscience in relation to outer reality. 
In practice, what any particular person possesses as a conscience 
may be more or less under the influence of either the ego-ideal, or 
the Anti-L.E. and the R.O. Thus we may regard the total 'super- 
ego' phenomenon as a complex grouping of structures that in- 
cludes the R.O., the Anti-L.E. and the I.O. (Ego Ideal). 

Fairbaim himself would prefer to restrict the term super-ego 
to the moral level of psychic functioning, the level at which the 
C.E., the conscious self of everyday life, cathects the ego ideal or 
I.O. : i.e. to the level of what he terms 'direct repression'. He 

I retain the term *super-ego' to describe an internal object which 
is cathected and accepted as 'good' by the central ego, and which 
appears to function as an ego-ideal at a level of organization estab- 
lished subsequently to the basic level. ... I regard the cathexis of this 
object by the central ego as constituting a defence against the cathexis 
of internal bad objects by the subsidiary egos, and as providing the 
basis for the establishment of moral values in the inner world. (1952a, 
pp. 159-60.) 

It would certainly make for clarity to adopt this usage, and retain 
'super-ego' as the designation of the source of the moral conscience 


in the C.E. through its cathexis of the I.O. Here would be found 
what is usually called 'rational morality', which, however, is not a 
good way of expressing the point at issue. 'Rational' is largely an 
intellectualist and schizoid concept, whereas we are concerned 
with the emotional sources of self-judgment. These may be either 
objectively or subjectively orientated. As I have written elsewhere: 

The central ego remains in touch with the outer world and is open 
to continuing educative influences, which is not true of the repressed 
parts of the personality. This leads to the evolution of two different 
types of guilt and morality, the one morbid and the other increasingly 
realistic and mature. Under the attack of the anti-libidinal ego, the 
libidinal ego develops not only persecutory anxiety but, at a slightly 
later stage, persecutory guilt, which is Melanie Klein's 'depressive 
anxiety'. The morbid guilt of depression is so persecutory in nature 
that it is clear that the anti-libidinal ego plays the dominant part in 
its creation. It contains a large amount of what Freud called 'bor- 
rowed guilt' (1949, p. 72), and it leads to the development of a patho- 
logical morality of an ultra-authoritarian kind : i.e. in Christian 
terms, a harsh Calvinistic morality of law rather than love. If the 
central ego has to do with parents who are, even as idealized outer 
figures, too intolerant of the child's libido and aggression, the *super- 
ego conscience' will develop little beyond the level of the sadistic, 
persecuting, rejecting object and anti-libidinal ego. 

We may comment at this point on the familiar psycho-analytical 
idea that 'super-ego morality' needs to be replaced by a rational 
morality. This is better expressed as the replacement of persecutory 
morality by the morality of love. 'Super-ego morality' is psycho- 
pathological since it rests on splitting phenomena. It involves, as Fair- 
bairn's analysis shows, both the sadistic persecution of the libidinal 
ego by the anti-libidinal ego, and an attempt to control the psyche 
as a whole by a central ego morality based on the ideal object and so 
likely to be perfectionist and unrealistic. But since the central ego is 
the part of the ego which retains the capacity to deal with outer 
reality it will do this in ever more realistic ways as infantile ego- 
splitting is outgrown. 'The super-ego conscience' involves the attack 
of one ego upon another. A mature conscience is a function of 
genuine self -judgment on the part of the central ego by virtue of its 
possession of an ego ideal which becomes progressively more realistic 
as re-integration proceeds and as external objects are perceived in 
their own true nature and not in the light of the projection of an 
internal ideal object. (1956a, pp. 96-7.) 

It is rarely possible to find a dream that gives clear expression to 
the whole complex pattern of internal object-relationships which 


Fairbaim calls 'the basic endopsychic situation'. One reason for 
this is the large part that is played by identification in the infantile 
emotional hfe. Owing to this, one figure in the dream often serves 
to represent both a part of the ego and the internal object which 
it cathects. The following dream is selected in particular because 
it gives such a clear representation of the Anti-L.E. at its fell work 
of sabotaging the interest of the primary needy L.E. The patient 
dreamed that she went to an interview for a job which she was 
keen to get. When she got there, there was another woman of the 
same age, height and general appearance as herself, also waiting 
for an interview. When the dreamer's name was called, the other 
woman rushed in and gave such a bad account of the dreamer 
that she did not get the job. The dreamer enters into this dream 
primarily as the L.E., the self which owns the basic needs. From 
that point of view, the interviewing person from whom she seeks 
to get what she needs is the E.O. The other woman is plainly the 
dreamer's double but is working against her, and is the Anti-L.E. 
However, from that point of view, the interviewer who sides with 
the saboteur is now the R.O. Moreover, since in real life the 
dreamer was very self-depreciatory and always felt that people of 
any standing must have a poor opinion of her, the dream-figure 
of the interviewer probably also included and concealed both the 
LO. and the C.E., both of which were over-influenced by the 
R.O. and the Anti-L.E. Thus all the forces that could be turned 
against the dreamer's basic nature within herself were, so to speak, 
stacked against her, and it is no wonder that she was actually in- 
capacitated to a high degree for carrying on a normally active 
life. Whereas in this dream the three aspects of the object are all 
included together in one figure, in their original unity, while the 
results of ego-sphtting are clearly and separately symbolized, in 
other dreams the ego will appear only as one figure, while the 
object will reveal itself as having been split in mental representa- 
tion into two or three separate figures. But always, whatever dif- 
ferences are to be found in dreams, symptoms and characters, the 
evidence of the basic threefold splitting of object and ego can be 

The distinction Fairbaim draws between a pre-moral and moral 
level of the psychic life is of great importance to the understand- 
ing of all developmental problems. Schizoid problems belong 
wholly to the pre-moral level, depressive problems may be said to 
belong to a pathologically moral level, while true morality belongs 
to maturity. Guilt, Fairbaim regards, from the point of view of 
psychopathology, as a defence against the cathexis of internal 


bad objects which are repressed and unconscious; so that guilt 
operates necessarily as a resistance in psychotherapy. The real 
causes of psychoneurosis lie deeper down than the level of guilt, 
where sadistic persecutory bad objects terrify the masochistic L.E., 
whose need in psychotherapy Fairbaim regards as best expressed 
in terms, not of medical cure, but of 'salvation' or rescue from the 
dangers of the internal world. As I have expressed elsewhere : 

Fairbaim's scheme has the advantage of being consistently psycho- 
logical throughout, of answering to clinically observed facts more 
closely than the original scheme, and of clarifying the two outstand- 
ing anomalies in human nature; i.e. the co-existence of a primitive 
non- or pre-moral level of psychic life with the civilized moral level 
on the one hand, and on the other the fact that the individual func- 
tions as a self-frustrating entity by reason of his being radically 
divided between libidinal and anti-libidinal factors in his organiza- 
tion. (1956a, p. 98.) 

It is never easy to change established usage, and the id-ego- 
super-ego terminology has been, for over thirty years, 'established 
usage' in psycho-analytical thinking. A new set of terms, such as 
Fairbaim proposes, start with the disadvantage of being 'strange', 
and they have for some time an 'unfamiliar feel' about them. It is, 
nevertheless, stultifying to continue to use old terms that have 
become inadequate to the purposes of accurate conceptual 
analysis. It is to be hoped that such a thoroughly psychologically 
unsatisfactory term as 'id' will speedily drop out of use. It can 
only lead to the blind perpetuation of misleading features of 
Groddeck's and Freud's philosophical outlook. It is also to be 
hoped that the term 'super-ego' will now be seen to be a blanket 
term covering quite distinct structural features of the psyche ; and 
that its use will be consciously modified. The term could be re- 
tained for the specific purpose of referring to the combined effects 
of the various repressing and controlling structures, so long as that 
is recognized. But in most cases more detailed analysis is required 
and we should no longer use the term 'super-ego' for both the 
whole and the parts of what it refers to. Separate and more 
accurate terms, such as Fairbaim proposes, have become necessary 
to make clear exactly what we are talking about. It is perhaps 
significant that fourteen years after the publication of his analysis 
of endopsychic structure (1958) no one has so far produced any 
direct criticism of it, though other points in his theory have evoked 
critical comment. A diagrammatic comparison of the Freudian 
and Fairbaimian terms may be useful. 

The arrows show the direction of repression. 


Freudian Analysis 



Fairhairnian Analysis 
Central Ego — Ideal Object 


(Freudian Ego) (Moral Super-Ego) 

Direct Repression 

Anti-Libidinal Ego— Rejectin'g Object 
(Sadistic Super-Ego) 

Libidinal Ego — Exciting 
(Id) Object 

Chapter XVI 


Some fundamental differences emerge as between the views of 
Melanie Klein and Fairbaim, which we can now consider. It is 
important for the clarification of theoretical issues to discover 
where the root cause of these differences lies. Elizabeth Zetzel in 
her paper 'Recent British Approaches to Problems of Early Mental 
Development' (1955) writes : 

A theoretical framework which rests on such a definite and con- 
troversial premise as that of the death instinct has marked limitations. 
For this reason, if for no other, Mrs. Klein's theory will not be ac- 
ceptable to the majority of psycho-analysts in its present form (p. 

In 'Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms' (1952, pp. 292-320) 
Mrs. Klein states the points on which she agrees and those on 
which she differs from Fairbaim. Those on which she differs all 
arise from her determined retention of the theory of an innate, 
instinctive force which is specifically destructive in aim and which 
manifests its specific destructive impulses from the very moment of 
birth, co-existent with libidinal impulses from the very beginning 
of nfe, i.e. Freud's concept of a death instinct. 

In her latest book Envy and Gratitude (1957) she reaffirms this 
theory with as much fixity of belief as ever. Mrs. Klein has been 
entirely uninfluenced by the reasoned criticism of the concept of a 
death instinct which has led to its rejection by practically all 
analysts with the exception of Kleinians. Ernest Jones (1957, ch. 
VIII) states that the book Beyond the Pleasure Principle in which 
the theory was put forward by Freud is 

noteworthy in being the only one of Freud's which has received 
little acceptance on the part of his followers. Thus of the fifty or so 
papers they have since devoted to the topic one observes that in the 
first decade only half supported Freud's theory, in the second decade 
only a third, and in the last decade none at all. {Ibid., p. 287.) 


He mentions that the only analysts he knows who still employ the 
tenn 'death instinct', even in a clinical sense, are Melanie Klein, 
Karl Menningef and Nunberg. After a careful survey of the 
problem Jones concludes : 

If so little objective support is to be found for Freud's culminating 
theory of a death instinct one is bound to consider the possibility of 
subjective contributions to its inception. {Ibid., p. 300.) 

Nevertheless, Mrs. Klein does not even once throughout the entire 
range of her writings give any hint of the fact that her major 
premise is generally considered not only highly controversial but 
invalid. She never once attempts any critical examination or 
justification of it herself. This is left to Paula Heimann in Develop- 
ments in Psycho-Analysis^ pp. 321 ff. Mrs. IClein simply takes the 
concept over from Freud, and her followers assert that her work 
on aggression confirms his theory. This appears to be an extra- 
ordinary blind spot and, since one is never allowed to ignore the 
concept, it lends a subtle air of unreality to much Kleinian writing 
for those who regard it as invalid : just as in a more general way 
Mrs. Klein's loose and ill-defined use of terms lends an element 
of confusion and lack of conceptual precision. 

As an example of the loose use of terms, one may cite her already 
noted adoption of the term 'paranoid-schizoid' position. Mrs. 
Klein first described the early oral period as the 'persecutory 
phase', and later adopted the term 'paranoid position' (treating 
the two terms as synonymous). Finally, to mark her agreement with 
Fairbaim's conclusions concerning schizoid problems and his use 
of the term 'schizoid position', she adopted the composite term 
'paranoid-schizoid' position to denote the characteristics of the 
period preceding her 'depressive position'. (1952, pp. 293-4.) This 
composite term has not been accepted by Fairbaim and is in fact 
inaccurate if the accepted definite meaning of the term 'paranoid' 
is to be retained. The term 'paranoid' classically has two clear-cut 
associations which fix its meaning. In the psycho-analytic scheme 
of Ubidinal development it applies to reactions coming into being 
in the early anal expelling phase, and is thus marked by the pro- 
jection of bad objects. Mrs. Klein simply transfers it to the earlier 
oral incorporating and biting phases, and uses it to denote the 
persecutory anxiety situations felt by the infant internally under 
menace from non-projected persecuting internal bad objects. This 
assumes that 'persecutory' and 'paranoid' are simply synonyms, 
which is not the case, and dilutes the meaning of 'paranoid' so that 
it would lose its specific application in 'paranoia' to refer exclu- 
sively to one particular technique for dealing with internal bad 


objects by projecting them into external reality while remaining 
identified with the internalized good object. Persecutory anxiety is 
present in all psychotic and psychoneurotic states and is not con- 
fined to paranoia. Since Fairbaim adheres to the traditional mean- 
ing of this term, he does not accept as valid the composite term 
'paranoid-schizoid'. Such a term as 'persecutory-schizoid' would 
be valid but would then call to be paralleled by the adoption of 
'guilty-depressive' to denote the two early positions in emotional 
development. This, however, is unnecessary, and the terms 
'schizoid position' and 'depressive position' are adequate and seem 
to be the correct terms. Mrs. Klein herself writes : 'His [Fair- 
bairn's] term "schizoid position" would be appropriate if it is 
understood to cover both persecutory fear and schizoid mechan- 
isms.' (1952, p. 295.) 

In 'Notes on Some Schizoid Mechanisms' (1952, p. 295) Mrs. 
Klein states her disagreements with Fairbaim. They are four in 
number, are intimately linked together and all arise out of her 
adherence to the Freudian theory of innate destructive drives as 
manifestations of a death instinct. They are best examined in the 
setting of her latest work, which shows a marked concentration 
on schizoid and schizophrenic problems, with the elaboration of 
the concept of 'projective identification' and a fundamental stress 
on envy. Mrs. Klein had taken over from Freud his own later 
dominant interest in depression, and she came to regard the 'de- 
pressive position' as central in early development. Nevertheless, 
she had always been very much aware that psychopathological 
problems went back behind that to the earliest oral phase. Here 
arose the 'persecutory anxiety', the isolation of which was a con- 
tribution of major importance to the theory of anxiety. She re- 
garded it as preceding 'depressive anxiety'. Her specific acknow- 
ledgment of the importance of Fairbairn's work on schizoid 
problems makes it probable that it was his work on the early oral 
phase that prompted her to return and pay still closer attention 
to the pre-depressive experiences of the infant. 

However, Mrs. Klein and Fairbaim approach the psychology 
of the earliest beginnings of mental life with certain fundamental 
differences in their theoretical assumptions. Mrs. Klein nowhere 
shows any awareness of the problems constituted by Freud's 
separation of energy and structure. She merely states that she dis- 
agrees with Fairbairn's 'revision of the theory of mental structure 
and instincts'. (1952, p. 295.) Fairbaim outlines a theory of 
'dynamic structure' which is in line with the general trend oi 
present-day scientific thought : and he regards aggression as unlike 


libido in that it arises as a secondary reaction to frustration. Hence 
for him the internalization of objects is regarded as a defensive 
phenomenon, arising out of the necessity for dealing with 'bad 
objects' which are therefore the first objects to be introjected. 
Apart from that, libidinal satisfaction (even if it is only an ideal 
state) would lead simply to good-object relations and good-ego 

Mrs. Klein, on the other hand, adheres to Freud's instinct-theory 
and so can only think in terms of aggression as being innate, in the 
form of specific destructive impulses, just as libidinal drives are 
innate. The raw, unorganized, internally destructive energy of the 
death instinct is there from the beginning as a frightful menace 
to any kind of constructive personality development. This compels 
her to disagree with Fairbaim on four separate counts, (i) She 
rejects his theory of instinct as the dynamic pattern of activity of 
a developing ego-structure, since she regards aggression as active 
innately before any experience of object-relationships occurs at 
all, i.e. before there is any structural development. (2) The struc- 
tural differentiation of the ego has then to be related to the 
disintegrating impact of this primary death instinct, so that ego- 
spUtting cannot be regarded as primarily due to the repression of 
internalized bad objects. (3) To meet the internal menace of this 
death instinct, which is active from the very beginning, it is neces- 
sary for Mrs. Klein to postulate the primary internalization of 
the good object, the good breast, if the weak infantile ego is to 
have any chance at all of developing inner stability. (4) Finally, 
while the depressive fear is that of destroying by hate, she cannot 
agree that the schizoid fear is that of destroying by love — i.e. by 
the greedy intensity of deprived love-needs in a pre-ambivalent 
phase — ^since for her hate exists and is active from the very start. 
Kleinians at first took over the Freudian theory that hate relations 
were earlier than love relations, and hate was the infant's primary 
reaction to objects, though they later modified that to the proposi- 
tion that love and hate were equally primary. 

It is worth while looking at points (2), (3) and (4) more closely. 

The Structural Differentiation of the Ego 

The choice here is a clear-cut one as between Mrs. Klein's view 
of structural differentiation originating under the internal, disin- 
tegrating operation of the death instinct, a purely speculative view, 
and Fairbaim's view that structural differentiation originates 
under the disturbing impact of experience of bad-object relations 
in real life, a fully clinical view. Mrs. Klein writes : 


I would say that the early ego largely lacks cohesion, and a tend- 
ency towards integration alternates with a tendency towards disin- 
tegration, a falling into bits. I believe that these fluctuations are 
characteristic of the first few months of life. ... I hold that anxiety 
arises from the operation of the death instinct within the organism, 
is felt as fear of annihilation (death) and takes the form of fear of 
persecution. The fear of the destructive impulse seems to attach 
itself at once to an object — or rather it is experienced as the fear of 
an uncontrollable overpowering object. . . . The anxiety of being 
destroyed from within remains active. It seems to me in keeping with 
the lack of cohesiveness that under the pressure of this threat the 
ego tends to fall to pieces. This falling to pieces appears to underlie 
states of disintegration in schizophrenics. (1952, pp. 296-7.) 

This means that, for Mrs. Klein, in the last resort anxiety is 
not an object-relations phenomenon but an innate phenomenon. 
Also object-relations are not really necessary to structural differen- 
tiation of the ego as Fairbaim holds, since it will go on any way. 
It is due to an inherent tendency to internal disintegration of the 
primary ego under the impact of the death instinct, so that it 'falls 
to bits'. Such a view would look much more like an explanation 
of Janet's theory of dissociation than of the purposeful ego-splitting 
phenomena leading to definite patterns of internal organization 
that Fairbaim seeks to explain. Mrs. Klein states that 'object- 
relations exist from the beginning of life' (1952, p. 293), but this 
seems to be something of an irrelevance ; it does not matter much 
whether they do or not if they are merely incidental to the basic 
problems. Yet Mrs. Klein in fact rides two horses at once^ for she 
goes on to say : 

The question arises whether some active splitting processes within 
the ego may not occur even at a very early age. As we assume, the 
ego splits the object and the relation to it in an active way, and this 
may imply some active splitting of the ego itself. (1952, p. 297.) 

This 'may', however, speedily becomes a 'must', for she goes on 
to say : 

I believe that the ego is incapable of splitting the object — internal 
and external — ^without a corresponding splitting taking place within 
the ego. . . . Omnipotent denial of the existence of the bad object and 
of the painful situation is, in the unconscious, equal to annihilation 
by the destructive impulse . . . it is an object-relation which suffers 
this fate ; and therefore a part of the ego, from which the feelings to- 
wards the object emanate, is denied and annihilated as well. (1952, 
pp. 298-9.) 


This passage, written three years after the publication of Fair- 
bairn's paper on 'The Repression and Return of Bad Objects', is 
pure Fairbaimian theory, and shows the influence of his work. It 
would, however, appear very questionable whether a weak in- 
fantile ego lacking cohesiveness and tending to fall to bits under 
the menace of a death instinct would have the power to split 
objects and itself with such definite purposiveness. Mrs. Klein's 
clinical findings support Fairbaim's views rather than her own 
theoretical version of Freud's speculative instinct-theory. 

Internalization of Good and Bad Objects 

Mrs. Klein rejects Fairbaim's view that it is the bad object that 
is first internalized (the pre-ambivalent object, internalized on 
account of its unsatisfying asf>ects). She holds that the good breast 
must be internalized from the start. Owing to the fact that 'oral- 
sadistic impulses towards the mother's breast are active from the 
beginning of life' (1952, p. 297), the frustrating breast is intro- 
jected in bits, bitten up in phantasy, thus promoting ego-disin- 
tegration. That is why Mrs. Klein must have the counterbalancing 
concept of the good breast introjected whole, also from the begin- 
ning, to counteract the inevitable disintegration process. 

I hold that the introjected good breast forms a vital part of the 
ego, exerts from the beginning a fundamental influence on the pro- 
cess of ego-development and aff'ects both ego-structure and object- 
relations. (1952, p. 295.) 

Fairbaim does not need this theory since he does not regard the 
infant as starting off with destructive reactions to the breast. He 
holds that the internalized good object is only set up later as a 
defence against the intemahzed bad object. It is curious, however, 
to note that Mrs. Klein herself supports this view in principle, for 
her theory of the death instinct — ^i.e. 'fear of the destructive im- 
pulse . . . experienced as the fear of an uncontrollable overpower- 
ing object' (1952, p. 296) — active internally is tantamount to an 
admission that the bad object is internal before the good object 
after all. Fairbaim's position is clear. Internalization does not in- 
clude any and every kind of 'receiving into the mind' and 'influ- 
encing of the ego by the object'. The term relates only to the 
specific creation of a distinct internal object in the structural sense, 
of a split-off and repressed structure, a defensive procedure. Good- 
object relations provide no occasion for this procedure, for the 
good object simply influences good-ego development. The unsatis- 
fying object is internalized in an eflfort to master it ; when it is split 


after internalization, the good object is created as a defence against 
the split off and repressed bad objects. 

The Schizoid Problem of Love as Destructive 

Mrs. IClein rejects this view of Fairbaim, with the accompany- 
ing, quite unjustified, statement that he 'underrates the role which 
aggression and hatred play from the beginning of life'. It is not 
necessary to believe that aggression is innately active to recognize 
its earliest factual manifestations. Fairbaim believes that aggres- 
sion is an instinctive reaction to libidinal frustration and arises as 
early as libidinal frustration is experienced. The schizoid phase has 
its own characteristic form of aggression. The frustrated hungry 
infant does not aim to destroy the breast but to possess it. He may, 
however — and all the evidence is that he does — ^in phantasy see 
himself to be destroying it in the act of seeking to possess it. Thus 
the schizoid anxiety over aggressive needs leads to withdrawal 
from reality because of destructiveness in phantasy. One of my 
schizoid patients woke up in terror one night feeling herself to be 
nothing but one big hungry devouring mouth swallowing up 
everyone and everything. She had a phantasy of standing with a 
vacuum cleaner sucking into it everyone who came near. That is 
the schizoid anxiety, of destroying by love. Depressive aggression, 
hate, aims to destroy the bad object and so fears the loss of the 
good object. Schizoid aggression aims to possess the exciting and 
tantalizing good object with such ravenous need that the loss of 
the good object is feared through the act of possessing it. The 
subsequent reactions are also different. In the one case the object 
is saved by turning destructive hate on to the self. In the other 
case the object is saved by withdrawing love that has become 
destructive, and breaking off relationships. Melanie Klein cannot 
make this distinction because for her, destructive hate, arising out 
of the death instinct, is there from the beginning. 

One cannot but feel that 'instinct theory' has seriously bedevilled 
psychodynamic investigations and the sooner it is discarded in 
favour of theories that are based solely on clinical facts without 
speculative assumptions being imported into them, the better. 
Fairbaim holds that : 

Perhaps the arrangement of mental phenomena into functioning 
structural groups is the most that can be attempted by psychological 
science. (1952a, p. 218.) 

Two of Mrs. Klein's latest emphases, bearing directly on her 
analysis of the earliest phases and therefore on her conceptualiza- 


tion of the problems of schizoid and schizophrenic processes, are 
'projective identification' and the primary nature of 'envy'. We 
may deal with these together. In 'Notes on Some Schizoid Mechan- 
isms' (1952, p. 300) she writes : 

The phantasied onslaughts on the mother follow two main lines : 
one is the predominantly oral impulse to suck dry, bite up, scoop out 
and rob the mother's body of its good contents. . . . The other line 
of attack derives from the anal and urethral impulses, and implies 
expelling dangerous substances (excrements) out of the self and into 
the mother. Together with these harmful excrements, expelled in 
hatred, split-off parts of the ego are also projected on to the mother 
or, as I would rather call it, into the mother. These excrements and 
bad parts of the self are meant not only to injure but also to control 
and to take possession of the object. In so far as the mother comes 
to contain the bad parts of the self, she is not felt to be a separate 
individual but is felt to be the bad self. Much of the hatred against 
parts of the self is now directed towards the mother. This leads to a 
particular form of identification which establishes the prototype of 
an aggressive object-relation. I suggest for these processes the term 
'Projectiye_identification'. When projection is mainly derived from 
the infant's impulse to harm or to control the mother, he feels her 
to be a persecutor. In psychotic disorders this identification of an 
object with the hated parts of the self contributes to the intensity of 
the hatred directed against other people. 

This piece of clinical analysis throws a flood of light on schizo- 
phrenic reactions. We are concerned here, however, not with its 
clinical bearings but with the theoretical concepts associated. In 
Envy and Gratitude (1957) Mrs. Klein writes : 

Envy is a most potent factor in undermining feelings of love and 
gratitude at their root, since it affects the earliest relation of all, that 
to the mother. ... I consider that envy is an oral-sadistic and anal- 
sadistic expression of destructive impulses, operative from the begin- 
ning of life, and that it has a constitutional basis (p. i). 

The struggle between life and death instincts and the ensuing 
threat of annihilation of the self and of the object by destructive im- 
pulses are fundamental factors in the infant's initial relation to his 
mother. . . . Together with happy experiences, unavoidable griev- 
ances reinforce the innate conflict between love and hate, in fact, 
basically between life and death instincts (pp. 4-5). 

In the paper 'On Identification' (1955, pp. 309-45) she treats of 
envy as a factor in projective identifications. 


In Envy and Gratitude Mrs. Klein seems inclined to place a 
somewhat stronger emphasis on environmental influence (p. 4). 
Nevertheless, as the previous quotation shows, her beHef in innate 
hate and innate destructive drives is as uncompromising as ever. 
Whereas, therefore, Fairbaim would presumably seek to under- 
stand the motivation and origins of envy, Mrs. Klein treats it as 
unmotivated and ultimate, and as a basic manifestation of the 
death instinct. The infant from the start, she holds, feels envious 
of the good breast of the mother and wishes to destroy it because 
he does not possess it himself. In that case there seems little hope 
of love-relationships of a really durable kind coming into being, 
and it would appear rather that all love must function as a de- 
fence against repressed envy and hate. Fairbairn, on the contrary, 
holds that it is most important to help the patient to recognize 
that hate is not the ultimate thing and that always love underlies 
hate if one penetrates deep enough. 

On the clinical level it is possible to adopt Fairbaim's view that 
aggression is not an ultimate in the same sense as libidinal needs, 
but is rather a reaction to libidinal frustration, and at the same 
time utilize to the full Mrs. Klein's illuminating emphasis on 'pro- 
jective identification' and 'envy'. For Fairbaim holds that aggres- 
sion is aroused as soon as frustration and lack of satisfaction are 
experienced, and that is early enough to set going almost from 
the very start the disintegrating processes Mrs. Klein calls atten- 
tion to. Once aggression is at work, its ad hoc analysis is not much 
affected by whether with Fairbaim we hold that frustration and 
deprivation originate it, or with Mrs. Klein that they only intensify 
it as an innate impulse. Further research is needed to determine 
whether in fact, as Mrs. Klein holds, introjective oral sadism and 
projective anal sadism do operate together from the very start, or 
whether the anal phenomena are not somewhat later develop- 
ments. On this point Fairbairn's view is relevant, that while the 
mouth is a natural organ of object-relationship the anus is not, 
and that emotional conflicts centring on anal activity are therefore 
artifacts and are dependent on the prior internalization of bad 
objects. To get rid of these internal bad objects the anal function 
of excretion is then adopted in a symbolic sense. If that is so, then 
oral introjection antedates anal projection, and one would sup- 
pose that 'introjective identification' antedates 'projective identi- 
fication', which could matter a great deal in actual analyses. It 
would mean that, as Fairbaim holds, identification with the intro- 
jected unsatisfying breast leads to both internal bad objects and 
bad parts of the self, and that this is the basic process which then 
leads to projective identification in the working out of the struggle 


with bad objects, internal and external, and the bad parts of the 
self which are felt to be bad through cathexis of the bad object. 

One final point of comparison. Fairbaim has replaced the 
imverifiable and speculative concept of a death instinct by the 
clinically verifiable structural concept of the anti-libidinal ego, to 
account for the forces at work in human nature which are destruc- 
tive towards the self, as in suicide, and psychosomatic diseases 
where frustrated energies locked up inside work havoc with the 
organism and often end in killing it. These are only the most ex- 
treme examples of the remarkable capacity for self-frustration 
that human beings display, and it was such phenomena that the 
concept of the death instinct was designed to explain. But instead 
of explaining them, it only refers them back to an inexplicable 
and unalterable innate factor. 

Fairbaim traces self-destructive impulses to the infant's 
struggle to cope with internal problems, by using 'a maximum 
of his aggression to subdue a maximum of his libidinal need', 
thus turning the full force of the aggression and hate felt 
against those who deprived him of satisfaction against himself 
in an attempt to stop himself having any wants that could be 
denied. This technique of self-suppression is structurally organ- 
ized and consolidated as a part of the ego, itself split off and re- 
pressed — that is, as it were the agent of the rejective object inside 
the child (like a Vichy government ruling its own country on 
behalf of an invader). 

This anti-libidinal ego operates as an internal saboteur, being 
devoted to the crushing of the libidinal ego (which is the libidinal 
aspect of the natural, active, creative primitive psyche in the last 
resort), and so is the source of all inhibitions, self-attacks, self- 
punishments and self-destructive impulses. This is not a speculative 
concept, but a clinically verifiable functioning part of the person- 
ality which analysis can lay bare. 

Elizabeth Zetzel, whose criticisms of Fairbaim, Balint and 
Melanie KJein really only amount to the assertion that they are 
not orthodox, says of Fairbaim : 

Instead of attempting to contain his observations within the con- 
ceptual framework of Freudian theory, he began ... to develop a 
new terminology of his own. He abandoned the classical conception 
of id, ego, and super-ego, and instead regarded mental development 
as proceeding from various divisions and splits of an originally unitary 
ego and of an originally unitary object. . . . His attempt to create a 
comprehensive conceptual framework to account for certain still un- 
resolved problems regarding the nature of early object-relations and 


the development of the ego is praiseworthy. It does not appear, how- 
ever, that in areas where we are still to a considerable extent work- 
ing in an unknown territory the introduction of new words or a new 
terminology can solve problems which remain unsolved. In short, 
Fairbairn's theoretical work consists mainly of an attempt to alter 
current analytic terminology. . . . The theoretical framework he has 
constructed is highly ingenious and internally consistent. However, 
it rests on a number of premises which are highly controversial. It is 
extremely abstract and does not readily lend itself to objective valida- 
tion, and will probably be approached by most analytic readers more 
as an intellectual exercise than as a contribution which can be re- 
garded as concurrent with the main stream of analytical develop- 
ment. (1955, pp. 357-8.) 

In other words, Fairbairn is unorthodox. This passage is a singu- 
larly unconstructive piece of criticism. To begin with, Freud's own 
structural scheme introduced new words and a new terminology, 
and, just as much as Fairbairn's, was 'an attempt to alter [the 
then] current analytic terminology'. Fresh thinking can register 
itself only by the employment of fresh terms. Moreover, Freud's 
terms, 'id' and 'super-ego', are actually more abstract than Fair- 
bairn's terms 'libidinal ego' and 'anti-libidinal ego'. Fairbairn's 
terms have the merit, which Freud's do not have, of conveying an 
exact meaning. The functions of the libidinal ego and the anti- 
libidinal ego are defined by the terms themselves, whereas the 
terms 'id' and 'super-ego' define nothing. As to the terms not lend- 
ing themselves to objective vaHdation, the writer finds them more 
precisely applicable in clinical analysis than the terms 'id' and 

This may be illustrated in the case of the anti-libidinal ego, 
whose machinations are clearly seen in the following dream. A 
minister of religion, who for years, prior to a bad depression, had 
lived a life of such extreme self-sacrifice that it amounted to an 
obvious campaign of sabotage of his own proper interests, had this 
dream. 'I was visiting my flock and trudging from house to house. 
Every house I entered was full of sorrow and misery and I left the 
people helped and rejoicing. I got more and more weary as I 
went on and finally dragged myself into my church and collapsed 
and died uttering the words, "Nothing for me".' An anti-libidinal 
attitude of one part of the ego to the self is a more intelligible 
comment on such a dream than a reference to a death instinct. 
This patient had considerable artistic ability and once relieved a 
severe depression by starting to paint with no definite aim. Ulti- 
mately he found that he had painted a terrible crucifixion scene 


in which the lurid surrounding storm colours expressed the rage 
and hate expended on the victim. At the side of the cross he 
painted a placard on which were the words, 'A penny for the guy'. 
The crucified figure he felt was himself, and the whole picture 
expressed, first of all his destructive self-hate, and secondly his 
bitter resentment at this anti-libidinal drive in him against him- 
self, which led him to make his work- a crucifying self-sacrifice 
('Nothing for me'), which had, in fact, been hounding him to 
destruction. Happily the process proved to be reversible and the 
energies devoted to it were set free for constructive living in a 
way which could not have occurred had they arisen from an 
innate, instinctive, destructive drive. 

We may finally note that the work of both Mrs. Klein and Fair- 
bairn bases psychopathological research definitely on develop- 
mental phases earlier than those to which Freud's attention was 
mainly given ; though it was, of course, Freud's work that led them 
on beyond the ground he chiefly explored. In 1944 Fairbaim 
raised the cry 'Back to Hysteria' (1952, p. 92) from the over- 
emphasis of psycho-analysis on depression, obsessional neurosis 
and guilt phenomena. Zetzel writes : 'Fairbaim explicitly recog- 
nized earlier than many analysts the close relationship between 
hysteria and schizophrenia, which is becoming increasingly ac- 
cepted by most analysts.' (1955, p. 537-) 

To-day, research is going farther back than hysteria into the 
aetiology of schizophrenia. Mrs. Klein's researches have recently 
centred much more on schizoid than on depressive problems. 
Sullivan's work rested almost exclusively on the application of 
psychotherapy to schizophrenics. The 1 8th International Psycho- 
analytical Congress in London in 1953 devoted a symposium to 
'Therapy of Schizophrenia' (1954, Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol. 
XXXV, Pt. 2). Schizophrenia has become the advanced front line 
of psycho-analytical attack on personality problems. This is what 
we would expect if, not the Oedipus complex, but the regressive 
reactivation of infantile oral dependence is the root of personality 

This is raising urgentiy the question of the nature and causes of 
schizophrenic disintegration of personality. We have three dif- 
ferent views of the disintegrated state to which schizophrenics 

{a) Freud — Ed. Glover — Winnicott: Primary Unintegration. 
There is no ego to start with, but only what Freud calls id-impulses, 
Glover ego nuclei, and what Winnicott speaks of as a primary 
'unintegrated' state. Concerning this view Fairbaim writes : 'The 
idea that there is no ego present at birth, and that the ego is a sort 


of special creation which has difficulty in learning to tolerate id- 
impulses, which are really its own impulses, seems to me fantastic 
as a piece of conceptualization.' (Personal communication.) 

(b) Melanie Klein: Primary Disintegration. While Mrs. Klein 
has recently favoured Winnicott's 'unintegrated' primary state, 
Kleinian writers, as we have seen, hold also to an original unity 
of the ego. Evidently they have not settled on a consistent theory 
on this point. However, Mrs. Klein puts forward the view of a 
primary disintegration of the ego under the impact of the death 
instinct. She clearly jx)rtrays all the destructive forces as present 
and at work innately from the very start, and needing to be 
counteracted by internalization of the good breast. 

{c) Fairbairn: Primary Integration and Secondary Disintegra- 
tion. Fairbaim holds that the ego is from the start in a state of 
primary wholeness or integration, and that disintegration is a 
secondary phenomenon, resulting from the persecutory effects of 
internalized bad-object relationships, i.e. the turning of the infant's 
aggression inwards against itself. It is the result of the sadistic 
attack of the anti-libidinal ego on the libidinal ego. This view 
seems to be more securely based on clinical evidence, while the 
two other views rest on theoretical presuppositions which invite 
radical questioning. 

Part III 

*The mind is its own place, and in itself 

Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.' 

Milton ('Paradise Lost', lines 254-5) 

*Since the good mother holds me still a child ! 

Good mother is bad mother unto me ! 

A worse were better ; yet no worse would L' 

Tennyson (Gareth in 'Gareth and Lynette', 
lines 15-17, Idylls of th e King) 

Chapter XVII 


A. Comparison of Frexh), 'Culture-Pattern' Theory, 
Klein and Fairbairn 

We have surveyed the wide sweep of developing psycho- 
analytical theory from its early classic form to its latest innova- 
tions. No science can stand still, and the value of Freud's work 
lies as much in what he started as in what he himself discovered. 
The dialectical pattern of development suggested in Part I was 
not meant to be a rigid form, but it has been useful in ordering 
the mass of material. There is nothing metaphysical or mystical 
about a dialectical process. One need not be an Hegelian to ob- 
serve that the enunciation of a clear-cut theory is Hkely to provoke 
fresh minds to the assertion of the opposite, and out of the clash 
of opposites there will slowly emerge a synthesis of what is true in 
both. Something like that has been taking place in psycho-analysis. 
The original Freudian biological emphasis provoked an anti- 
thetical sociological and cultural emphasis. This swing of the 
pendulum of thought had, however, already taken place in Freud 
himself to some extent, when he turned from his earlier instinct- 
theory to his later 'super-ego' theory. Even from the very begin- 
nings Freud recognized the part played by the social pressures 
operating through conscience. Some Americans, or perhaps in the 
first place Europeans hke Homey and Fromm who became 
domiciled in America, developed the sociological emphasis in a 
more one-sided manner than did Freud. Meanwhile there was 
emerging in Britain a third type of theory which quite uninten- 
tionally provides a synthesis of the two earlier points of view ; for 
this theory centres in the concept of a 'double environment', in- 
ternal and external, psychic and material, unconscious and deeply 
involved in the life of the body and also conscious and deeply 
influenced by human relationships and all the pressures of the 


social culture. This type of theory, now known as ^object-relations 
theory', provides a more complete psychodynamic theory while 
still taking account of the involvement of the body in the life of 
the personality. We are now in a position to summarize and 
compare these three great bodies of psycho-analytical thought. 

I. Freud 

Freud began, as a practising neurologist, with the study of dis- 
connected neurological and psychic phenomena, as his patients 
brought him their symptoms. He assumed that the emotions and 
impulses which were active in these states of illness were to be 
explained by the already current theory of 'instincts' which he 
adopted and moulded to his requirements. For Freud, this instinct- 
theory always implied the background of neurophysiological 
theory. He lighted upon discrete psychic phenomena piecemeal in 
the investigation of the symptoms of, first Hysteria, and then 
Obsessions and the psychoneurotic illnesses in general, into the 
psychoses and psychosom.atic illness. He could not at first have 
realized the extent to which he was opening up an entirely new 
field of scientific investigation, that of the psychodynamic prob- 
lem of the personality. He had no particular view of personality 
as a whole other than that which was implied in his scientific, 
medical, biological and deterministic approach to man as a 
patient. He had no particular conception of a unitary psychic 
ego. His system, as he built it up bit by bit, was as much an 
atomistic theory of the dynamic psyche as was Associationism of 
the cognitive psyche. In this he was true to the general scientific 
outlook of the latter half of the nineteenth century. 

Gradually the problem of the ego forced itself on Freud's atten- 
tion, but he thought of it always as something constructed as an 
apparatus for the control of the dynamic 'instinctive' impulses 
which he thought of as invading it from an impersonal region of 
the psyche which did not belong to the ^o itself as such. These 
instinct-derivatives had to be disciplined into conformity with 
social demands embodied in what he ultimately came to call the 
super-ego. Thus, Freud's psychology was basically a theory of 
guilt, a theory of control by psychically internalized social pres- 
sures over innate antisocial impulses. This is reflected in his change 
of interest from Hysteria to Obsessional Neurosis and Depression 
as the main source of his material. It corresponds with this that 
he should regard the Oedipus complex as the hard core of psycho- 
neurosis, and as biologically fated to arise. His was not really a 
theory of psychic disturbances caused by anxiety pure and simple 


in its most primitive fomi, not yet civilized into guilt. Freud for a 
long time treated anxiety more as a physiological than a psycho- 
logical fact. 

He was too acute an observer not to see deeper down into the 
pre-Oedipal, pre-genital and primitive levels of psychic life. 
However, he never specifically sought the basic causes of psycho- 
neurosis there, but regarded the happenings of the earliest phases 
as preparatory and leading on to the really decisive phase, the 
Oedipal period, a fully social and conscience-ridden situation. 
Here, primitive antisocial instincts are at war with cultural and 
social tradition. The victory of instinct is criminality, the too 
complete victory of culture is neurosis. This remained the hard 
core of Freudian thought, which expounded the recalcitrance of 
man's biological nature to the process of civilization. 

Remembering the intellectual climate in which he worked at 
the end of last century, and the heavily materialistic bias of his 
neurological education, one is amazed that he was able to break 
through to so much far-reaching discovery in the realm of purely 
psychodynamic phenomena. With little beyond the investigations 
of the hypnotists to stimulate his imagination, he broke into the 
forbidden regions of the unconscious, the uncomfortable facts of 
psychic conflicts involving anxiety and guilt. He came upon the 
embarrassing symptoms and troubles of the sexual life which he 
found inextricably interwoven with the symptoms of neurosis. 
Finally he laid the foundations on which all others have been 
building since, in the erection of a scientific, psychodynamic 
theory of human personality. However far future science moves 
beyond his theories, his genius and pre-eminence must be recog- 
nized. It is splendidly enshrined in the monumental biography by 
Ernest Jones. 

Nevertheless, his presuppositions hampered his progress. Freud's 
work produced the first properly psychodynamic study of human 
personahty, but this was obscured by his psychobiological instinct- 
theory with its consequence, a misplaced emphasis on sexuality. 
All that Freud discovered about neurotic sexuality so far as the 
detailed analysis of its symptomatic ramifications is concerned 
is indubitably true. For all that, it is not fundamental in the causal 
sense as Freud believed. In neurosis, sexual phenomena are symp- 
tomatic of the fundamental and over-all psychic or personality 
disturbance. The basic thing is the vicissitudes of the 'person', not 
>f his sexuaHty, which is simply one, however important, of his 
functions. This was simply expressed by one patient whose neurosis 
irose out of gross maternal neglect. During a holiday period she 
"ound herself experiencing an increasingly intense need for her 


therapist, and in reporting this said : 'Sexual feehngs came into 
this, but it wasn't a sexual feeling alone, it was a total need.' 

Instinct-theory, in all its forms, ancient and modem, has been 
the major theoretical hindrance to the factual analysis and ex- 
planation of human experience and behaviour in psychodynamic 
terms. The necessary psychodynamic concepts did not exist and 
were not sought so long as thinkers were content to talk of nothing 
but expression and control of innate instincts. In spite of this, if 
Freud's first and greatest claim to recognition lies in the fact that 
he broke into and opened up the unconscious, his second must be 
that he really broke away in principle from the instinct-theory 
that he never formally repudiated. His super-ego theory laid the 
foundations of true psychodynamic studies. 

2. The 'Culture-Pattern' Theory 

The one-sidedness of the pioneer theory, in which character 
traits and personality were determined by the fate of sexual com- 
ponent instincts and the death instinct, and, in general, human 
object-relations were held to be completely dominated by the 
organic developmental fate of the inherited instinctive drives, 
brought a reaction, particularly in America, to an opposite and 
much more one-sided sociological theory. Freud did not ignore 
cultural phenomena as completely as the 'Culture-Pattern' writers 
ignored the deep unconscious. They saw human nature as deter- 
mined solely by 'culture-pattern' pressures and lost many of the 
fundamental discoveries made by Freud. Beyond calHng special 
attention to the radical importance of human relationships as 
primary facts for psychology, and carrying out much valuable 
analysis of character-trends of the social ego, this movement has 
not made any real contribution to psycho-analysis, i.e. to the 
profounder analysis of the psychical structure and growth of the 
human person. It is a kind of nonconformist aside, not in the Hne 
of the true development of psycho-analysis from within. For this 
true development and for the proper synthesis of the two opposites 
we must turn to Klein and Fairbaim. 

3. Melanie Klein 

Melanie Klein took up the problem at the point where Freud 
laid it down. She penetrated to the deeper depths below the 
Oedipus-complex level, into the infantile phases of development 
in the first three years. The infant cannot directly help us by 
verbalizing his mental processes at that early period, so that we 
must depend on external observation, and on interpretation of 


the infant's emerging phantasy life in the form of *play' at a 
slightly later age. Yet the basic causes of psychopathological 
development are not likely to become first operative at the later 
Oedipal age only, but must be sought deeper down where Mrs. 
Klein looked for them. In spite of the fact that Melanie Klein's 
theory centred so much around depression, like Freud's, the most 
obvious result of her switch of interest back to the pre-Oedipal 
years was at first the emergence of a central emphasis on Anxiety. 
She came to interpret depression as a later form of anxiety which 
follows after the arousal of a more primitive form, called by her 
persecutory or paranoid anxiety. Here we see psychopathology 
going back behind Freud's basic concept of instincts versus con- 

Utilizing Freud's view of conscience or the guilt-inducing super- 
ego as a psychic internal object, she showed, by the direct analysis 
of young children, that by the third year the child is already living 
in an internal mental world of psychic objects, most of which are 
terrifyingly persecutory. Its psychic life, conscious and uncon- 
scious, is already extremely complex in pattern, and has become, 
as it were, an internal environment to itself, with grave conse- 
quences for its relationships to its external environment. It has 
come to live in two worlds, one of which is internal and purely 
psychic and which makes up its mental or personality constitution. 
The frightening and destructive objects in the inner world turn 
out to be closely related to the arousal and growth of aggression 
in the infant mind, and they arouse primarily, not guilt, but perse- 
cutory anxiety pure and simple. Here lie the basic causes of 
neurosis. It is true that Mrs. Klein regards these internal objects 
as early forms of the super-ego, but it is clear that she has here 
gone below the moral stratum of the personality on which Freud 
worked for the most part, to what is truly primitive in man. Her 
analysis of aggression, anxiety and internal objects is really com- 
plementary to and completes Freud's analysis of libido, guilt and 
the super-ego. 

Unfortunately Melanie Klein did not, any more than Freud, 
overcome the atomistic impulse-theory, and she achieved no real 
unification of impulse-theory and the theory of ego-structure. Mrs. 
Klein has truly sewn a new patch on an old garment in retaining 
Freud's instinct-theory and his particular terminology for endo- 
psychic structure. She did not follow up the implications of her 
own discoveries. Id and ego remained essentially disparate in 
nature, and so no true theory of a 'whole' psychic self or of man 
as a 'person' could yet arise. No adequate general view of the 


developmental unity and structural differentiation within that 
unity of the psyche as a whole self was achieved. 

4. Fairhairn 

Fairbaim's work takes this last step. It is an ego-psychology 
which represents the total psyche or self as the priHiary ego to 
which psychic energy belongs, so that at last atomism is overcome, 
and impulses are seen for what they obviously are, the impulses 
of the ego itself in reactions to objects. 'Psychology without a Self, 
which appeared in Associationism in the eighteenth and nine- 
teenth centuries with its congeries of atomic 'impressions' and 
'ideas', and reappeared at the end of the nineteenth century in 
Freud (who was in the middle forties at the turn of the century) 
with his id-impulses, component instincts, erotogenic zones and 
mental mechanisms, can be finally discarded. Fairbaim took the 
step of abandoning the atomistic instinct theory as a biological 
irrelevance, replacing it by the unity of ego and impulse, structure 
and energy, in his theory of dynamic structure. He based his views 
on the fact that all psychic development is determined by experi- 
ence in object-relationships which set going processes of structural 
differentiation within that primary unity of the psyche or ego 
which Kleinians also held. He saw, therefore, that Melanie Klein's 
internal objects could not stand alone. They could not be objects 
unless there are egos to which they stand in relation and for which 
they are objects. Just as the Freudian super-ego was partnered by 
the Freudian ego, so the more primitive Kleinian internal objects 
must be partnered by more primitive and infantile egos. All this 
structural differentiation takes place within the unity of the basic 
psychic self. That a multiplicity of internal objects necessarily 
involves the splitting of the original ego into a parallel plurality 
of egos is the basis of Fairbaim's theory of endopsychic structure, 
arrived at through the study of schizoid processes and the dissocia- 
tion phenomena of hysteria in the first place. 

A radical change of outlook has come about. We started with 
Freud's multiple impulses without an ego and needing to be syn- 
thesized into an ego. (Cf. Ed. Glover's 'ego nuclei theory'.) The 
disintegration that has to be cured in psychotherapy is, from that 
point of view, an arrest in the early process of integration or syn- 
thesis. But we have now arrived at a complete 'ego-object psy- 
chology', in which an originally unitary ego is differentiated into 
multiple egos and internal objects in dynamic relationships. This 
time, however, the disintegration that psychotherapy has to 
overcome exists within the basic unity of the whole psyche, whose 


original unity was shattered by early bad-object relationships in 
real life. This psyche is now seen, as a result of the ego-splitting 
processes set going by repression, to be living in two worlds at once, 
outer and inner worlds on the twin planes of the conscious and 
the unconscious. The interaction of the two worlds is the source of 
all neurotic difficulties in real life. This complete 'object-relations 
theory of the personality' is of far-reaching significance, not only 
for the understanding of neurosis and personality-disorders, but 
for sociology, and for the study of every aspect — personal, 
economic, intellectual, scientific, artistic^ moral and reUgious — 
of human life. 

This Kleinian-Fairbaimian development necessitates a revalua- 
tion of the Oedipus complex. The first move was Mrs. Klein's ante- 
dating of the Oedipus complex to the first year of life. That could 
hardly be the solution, for Freud's Oedipus complex was essen- 
tially a representative of an elaborate social situation which gave 
rise to moral guilt, and the Oedipus complex loses its original 
meaning if referred back to the first year. Fairbaim saw that 
the Oedipus complex was the end-product of the complex pre- 
Oedipal processes in which the infant psyche lost both its own 
unity and its capacity to deal with its objects as 'wholes' in a 
satisfactory way. In fact the Oedipus complex is the finally elabor- 
ated form in which the infant's dependent tie to parents is per- 
petuated in the developing psyche, though this does not eliminate 
the earHer forms of that infantile dependence at deeper levels in 
anal and oral relationships. The 'overcoming of the Oedipus com- 
plex', of which Freud spoke as the event or process in which the 
super-ego is formed, is clearly the struggle to repress an elaborate 
unresolved infantile dependence on parents, and ultimately on the 
mother, under the pressure of the need to adjust to the demands 
of outer life on an increasingly grown-up level. Thus Infantile 
Dependence takes the place, for Fairbaim, of the Oedipus com- 
plex as the hard core of psychoneurosis. 

B. The Basic Forms of Human Relationships 

On the basis of the Klein-Fairbaim 'object-relations psychology' 
it now becomes possible to give a clearer account of the different 
fundamental ways in which human beings relate themselves to one 
another, both as disturbed and as mature persons. This is a matter 
of importance to sociologists among others. It is generally agreed 
that the basic forms of human relationship must be determined by 
psychological analysis. Not all sociologists have turned to psycho- 
logical science for this, perhaps because psychology has not always 


had much to offer in this respect. Yet, without help from psy- 
chology, the sociologist is not Hkely to achieve marked success in 
making, de novo, an analysis of his own. This is obvious in the 
case of Pareto, with his rough-and-ready division of all human 
actions into logical and non-logical, and the latter into a loose 
list comprising such vague terms as sentiments, tastes, proclivities, 
inchnations, instincts, interests, 'residues' and 'derivations'. Gins- 
berg writes of Pareto : 'His neglect of psychology has resulted in 
an extremely vague use of terms ... his conclusions are hardly 
revolutionary.' (1947, pp. 84-5.) 

It is, however, interesting to note that the psychological analysis 
made by the German sociologist Vierkandt is based on a broadly 
similar theoretical approach to that of 'object-relations theory'. He 
adopted the 'phenomenological' method of the philosopher 
Husserl. Ginsberg described Vierkandt's method as one of : 

examining mental functions by direct inspection or intuition of acts 
of consciousness as directed upon objects. All such acts are 'of some- 
thing. In the phenomenological analysis the consciousness and the 
object are bracketed together. It is a study of the consciousness-of- 
objects. In ordinary experience and in natural science we concentrate 
on the object. In psychology we concentrate on the subjective act. 
In phenomenology we are concerned with the objective reference 
in so far as it is immanent in the act, and we seek to disentangle the 
root types of mental functioning or ultimate modes of objective refer- 
ence. [Present writer's italics.] (1947, pp. 106-7.) 

This is powerful support for the need for an object-relations 
psychology. In some ways no better description could be given of 
what is involved in an attempt to set forth the fundamental types 
of object-relationship as revealed in Fairbaim's psychopathology, 
in which every reaction of an ego is 'bracketed' with its object. 
For Fcdrbaim, psychology no longer 'concentrates on the subjective 
act' merely, for it is imp>ossible to determine what that is apart 
from object-relationships. The difficulty with Vierkandt's own list 
of the irreducible social forms is that they are arrived at in an 
ad hoc rather than in a systematic way. Whatever strikes him on 
'direct inspection' as irreducible is included, and we get a collec- 
tion of psychological attitudes such as self-regard, need for recog- 
nition by others, tendency to submission and admiration, attitudes 
of shyness, embarrassment, love, hate, the feeling of belonging and 
so on. Why these should be ultimate does not appear, and we are 
not helped to understand how human beings develop these funda- 
mental reactions to objects. Vierkrandt lacked the key of the sub- 
jective fact of internal objects so that he was unable to recognize 


forms of object-relations as themselves embedded in the subjective 
make-up of the individual. It is only object-relations theory that 
enables us to carry out the kind of analysis for which Vierkandt 

Fairbaim and Klein reveal the true nature of the unconscious 
as a personal world of object-relations maintained within the 
psyche and constituting its structural organization. It is an inner 
world of which we are not directly aware, containing psychically 
intemaUzed objects with whom infantile parts of the ego are all 
the time having intensely emotional relationships. Since the parts 
of the ego which dwell in this internal world are infantile, and 
the objects inhabiting that same world are, primarily, the ego's 
objects in infancy and childhood, the inner world is one in which 
only immature relationship-patterns exist. They are the perpetua- 
tion within the psyche of the situation of the child vis-a-vis parents 
and other powerful and authoritarian figures with whom the 
child of necessity had dealings at that time. Nevertheless, the busy 
life which goes on in the unconscious profoundly affects our feel- 
ings and reactions in our conscious outer life. Thus it comes about 
that the patterns of object-relationship which exist in the uncon- 
scious inner world determine the kinds of immature object-rela- 
tions which people sustain in their outer world. They react 
rep>eatedly from the emotional level of inner reaUty which is 
immature, and not in ways appropriate to the conscious and adult 
appreciation of outer reality. 

'Determine' is meant literally. Parts of the 'total psychic subject' 
are 'fixated' in fairly definite situations and types of relationship 
in inner reality, and these become observable in his dream and 
phantasy life. So long as the fixation persists, he cannot but feel 
and react according to those particular patterns of relationship. 
The integrity of the psyche, the primary unity of the ego, has been 
disrupted or split up by early experiences of conflict with objects. 
The central ego is that part of the psyche which is orientated to 
the outer world, and which classic Freudian theory called the 
'reality-ego'. It is, in principle, free to develop, to adjust, to mature 
and to sustain rational and objectively appropriate relations with 
external objects. These relations, at the most fully developed and 
mature 'personal' level, will be characterized by equality, mutual- 
ity, spontaneity (lack of compulsion) and stability. On the other 
hand the infantile parts of the ego in the unconscious inner world 
are tied down to patterns of childish relations to bad objects, and 
are not free, so long as they remain repressed, to mature or react 
in any other way than that which is inevitable in their situation. 
Mature behaviour in the outer world is therefore constantly inter- 


fered with by immature reactions in and from the inner world. 
From the inner world came the psychic compulsions. 

We must differentiate between a functional and a structural 
splitting of the ego. We are often temporarily 'functionally split' 
whenever we are 'caught in two minds' about anything. We both 
do and don't want to do something, or we want two different 
things and cannot have both. The opposed wishes are both fully 
conscious and the divided motivation is overcome by a conscious 
process of balancing and final choice. It is only when objects of 
ambivalent feelings and wishes are themselves psychically internal- 
ized and repressed in early life, and the parts of the ego related to 
them are split off from the main ego which rejects and represses 
the entire situation, that the splitting of the ego becomes (rela- 
tively) permanent and is preserved in the unconscious structure of 
the personality. The child grows up into the complex adult world 
which is organized in such a way that certain broad types of rela- 
tionships between human beings are already embedded in the 
social structure. But the child's personality is also organized in 
such a way that certain types of immature object-relationship 
are already embedded in its inner psychic structure. The inner 
and outer worlds have a two-way causal relationship and re- 
ciprocal influence. The kind of relationships parents set up with 
the child, complicated by the child's own reactions to the situation, 
are internalized in the growing psychic structure, and will later on 
be compulsively externalized again and reimposed on situations 
in the outer social world, or else they will be spontaneously redis- 
covered in outer situations which correspond in some way to inner 
ones. Thus the individual is in the difficult position of being tied 
down to immature reactions to objects from the unconscious emo- 
tional level while at the same time he is doing his best to maintain 
mature relationships to objects at the level of his conscious reason- 
ing self. Hence the tragic inconsistencies of human beings bewailed 
all down the ages by saints, moralists, p>oets and orators. The im- 
mature forms of feeling and impulse which surge up from the 
infantile inner world, coupled with reaction-formations against 
them imposed by the 'super-ego', in large measure constitute the 
'actual' character with which a man enters his human relation- 
ships. The reasoned principles of his central ego, the part of his ego 
with which he is familiar, constitute his 'ideal' character which, in 
varying degrees, he may deceive himself into confusing with his 
actual character. In any emotionally stressful situation, and to a 
greater extent than he realizes in all situations, he will react in 
terms of compulsions arising from the 'super-ego' and the uncon- 


scious repressed parts of the ego rather than in terms of his rational 

We may now, on the basis of Fairbaim's theory of endopsychic 
structure, set forth the basic forms of object-relationship. These 
appear to be at least fourteen in number, if we include the original 
relation of the infant to the mother at a time before any frustra- 
tion has arisen. This can at any rate be imagined in theory as the 
starting-point. From the infant's point of view it is a spontaneous, 
uninhibited, enjoyable, active relation based on sucking at the 
breast while securely held in the mother's arms. It recaptures, as 
no other relation can ever do, the security of the womb though 
only as an approximation, since the disturbing crisis of birth has 
already been experienced. Some deep-buried memory of the bliss 
of life in the womb must Lie behind all 'Garden of Eden' phan- 
tasies of perfect love-relations, all wistful longings for some mystic, 
unfathomable 'absolute good' which men have experienced in all 
ages, and all longings for the Golden Age which is always in the 
past. Its loss must condition what may be called either the futile 
restless dissatisfaction or else the 'divine discontent' which has 
always plagued human beings. Since it involves not only possession 
of, but also complete identification with, the object whence come 
all satisfactions, it must contribute in ideaUzed form to the mystic's 
experience of union with the deity, and Plato's vision of the 'Idea 
of the Good'. 

It is the 'oceanic feeling' experienced by one of Freud's friends. 
Freud writes : 

It is a feeling which he would like to call a sensation of 'eternity', 
a feeling as of something limitless, unbounded, something 'oceanic'. 
It is, he says, a purely subjective experience, not an article of belief; 
... it is the source of the religious spirit and is taken hold of by the 
various Churches and religious systems, and directed by them into 
definite channels. . . . One may rightly call oneself religious on the 
ground of this oceanic feeling alone. (1930, p. 8.) 

It is a feeling of indissoluble connection, of belonging inseparably 
to the external world as a whole. {Ibid., p. 9.) 

Freud traces this feeling back to the original symbiosis of the babe 
and the mother and finds it revived in the experience of love as 

At its height the state of being in love threatens to obliterate the 
boundaries between ego and object. Against all the evidence of his 
senses the man in love declares that he and his beloved are one, and 
is prepared to behave as if it were a fact. Of the beginning of this 


experience he says : 'When the infant at the breast receives stimuli, 
he cannot as yet distinguish whether they come from his ego or from 
the outer world. He learns it gradually as the result of various 
exigencies.' . . . Originally the ego includes everything, later it de- 
taches itself from the external world. The ego feeling we are aware 
of now is thus only a shrunken vestige of a far more extensive feeling 
— a feeling which embraced the universe and expressed an insepar- 
able connection of the ego with the external world. If we may sup- 
pose that this primary ego feeling has been preserved in the minds of 
many people . . . the ideational content belonging to it would be 
precisely the notion of limitless extension and oneness with the 
universe — the same feeling as that described by my friend as 'oceanic'. 
(1930, pp. 10-14.) 

Freud alternately traces the origin of religious feeling to the 
child's feeling of helplessness and longing for a father. This would 
be the prototype of religious feeling, not as mystical union with 
the love-object, but as objective dependence on the powerful 
parental deity. Both types of religious experience exist, the one 
going back to the maternal and the other to the paternal relation- 
ship. Professor Martin Buber recognized the mystical type clearly, 
and its connection with the symbiosis of mother and infant, in his 
metaphysical prose poem / and Thou. It describes the part that 
this primary experience of a relationship, which is as yet, so to say, 
still embedded in a union or identity, plays in the religious life. 
He writes : 

The ante-natal life of the child is one of purely natural combina- 
tion, bodily interaction and flowing from one to the other. Its life's 
horizon, as it comes into being, seems in a unique way to be, and yet 
again not to be, traced in that of the life that bears it. For it does not 
rest only in the womb of the human mother. Yet this connection has 
such a cosmic quality that the mythical saying of the Jews, 'In the 
mother's body man knows the universe, in birth he forgets it', reads 
like the imperfect decipherment of an inscription from earliest times. 
And it remains indeed in man as a secret image of desire. Not as 
though his yearning meant a longing to return . . . but the yearning 
is for the cosmic connection, with its true 'Thou\ of this life that has 
burst forth into spirit. (1937, p. 25.) 

Buber's last sentence warns us that purely reductive analytic think- 
ing which believes that anything can be fully explained by dis- 
covering its first roots and simplest form may misconceive later 
developments. But it is clear from this varied testimony that the 
original relation of the baby to the mother is widely felt to play a 


vitally important and continuing part, albeit in hidden, trans- 
formed and disguised ways, in all later experience. It is important 
sociologically, since no doubt it plays a part in the mystical sense 
of identity or unity, not only with God or Church in the religious 
community, but also with Dictator, political party, or State, as 
experienced by the political fanatic with his pre-moral type of 
behaviour and consciousness in that role. It must be the basis of all 
kinds of feelings of 'oneness' in both personal and communal 

This relationship of simple dependence of the infant on the 
mother exists, however, not only in the form of the infant in the 
maternal womb, the prototype of all dependence in the form of 
mystical union and absorption, but also in the form of the infant 
niirsed and supported by a mature mother, the prototype of all 
truly helpful dependence of the weak, immature or ill on the 
strong, mature or healthy. In marriage a sufficiently mature 
partner may well be able to protect an immature mate from 
nervous breakdown. (We must say 'sufficiently mature', for it can 
work the other way and the neurotic partner may break down 
the resistance of the not-mature-enough mate.) 

However, sooner or later the infant is cast out of the Garden of 
Eden, and thereafter has to work his way through all the transi- 
tional forms of relationship on the way to full maturity. These 
transitional forms of relationship between infantile dej>endence 
and maturitymake up the stuff of everyday living. At this point we 
may note a matter of fundamental importance, the difference 
between psychologically inherently stable and psychologically in- 
herently unstable relationships. The original relationship of the 
infant to the mother is relatively inherently stable in a psycho- 
logical sense, since its absolute bliss is such that the infant can have 
no inner motive for wishing to change it, apart from one con- 
sideration. It is the extreme of immaturity, and changes are im- 
posed on it by inevitable biological development, from outside the 
region of psychological motivation. The state itself is, however, no 
doubt internally stable apart from that. At the other end of the 
scale of development we come once more upon a psychologically 
inherently stable relationship, at any rate in its theoretically com- 
plete or perfect form, even though in actual fact human beings 
only approximate to it. A relationship between two fully mature, 
adult persons is one of equality, mutuality and spontaneity. It 
contains no element of compulsion, no striving of either for super- 
iority, no element of distrust or constraint; and therefore (here 
is no motive arising within the relationship for desiring to change 


it. The two are *on a level' and give and take freely. As Professor 
Macmurray puts it : 

That capacity for communion, that capacity for entering into 
free and equal personal relations, is the thing that makes us human 
. . . the personal life demands a relationship with one another in 
which we can be our whole selves and have complete freedom to 
express everything that makes us what we are. It demands a relation- 
ship with one another in which suppression and inhibition are un- 
necessary . . . the idea of a relationship between us which has no 
purpose beyond itself. . . . This is the characteristic of personal 
relationships. They have no ulterior motive. They are not based on 
particular interests. They do not serve partial and limited ends. Their 
value lies entirely in themselves . . and that is because they are the 
relations of persons as persons. They are the means of living a per- 
sonal life. (1953, pp. 63, 97-10 1 •) 

Clearly only mature persons can sustain such a relationship, which 
Macmurray characterizes as 'friendship' ; they seek nothing else 
but to enjoy each other for their intrinsic worth, fulfilling their own 
respective personalities in the process. There is an easy mutual 
giving and receiving. It is the relationship we have in mind when 
we think of 'love'. Such a mature relationship is inherently stable 
because it contains no motives within itself for wishing for a 
change, no internal disruptive forces to disturb its serenity and 
security. Therefore a mature relationship is ideally stable ; it is not 
capable of change through being reversible for the relationship is 
the same both ways, irreversible because the attitude of both 
partners is in principle the same. In proportion as human beings 
are mature, they are capable of creating such equal and stable 
relationships, in which differences of type and capacity only enrich 
the fundamental unity and similarity of emotional attitudes. Such 
people are factors of stability in a society. The first relatively stable 
relationship of symbiosis of the mother and infant corresponds 
to Fairbaim's 'Infantile Dependence' ; the second essentially 
stable, mature and equal relationship is his 'Mature Dependence'. 
In between these two extremes of infantile and mature depend- 
ence and stabiUty are eleven types of relationship all of which are 
unstable and reversible, and it is here that all the difficulties of 
human association are to be found. They represent aspects of the 
developmental struggle of Fairbaim's 'Transitional Period'. These 
relationships are essentially unequal, hostile, full of motives for 
change and 'tiuning the tables', and lacking therefore in stability. 
They force life into a constant see-saw pattern of strife in which 
one person feels his lot can be improved only by weakening the 


position of some other person in some relevant respect. These rela- 
tions are essentially competitive and rivalrous. They conform to a 
general pattern of 'one up and the other down'. The emotions 
generated in them are always anxious and disturbed emotions 
such as discontent, frustration, fear, anger, submissiveness, de- 
mandingness, longing for love, jealousy, hate. They fall into two 
groups, of three pre-moral relationships characterized by immature 
dependence and immature aggression, and two immature moral 
relationships. They are all unstable, falling short of the goal of 
mature mutuahty. Since these relationships are unequal they each 
involve two separate individual patterns, that of the inferior and 
the superior, ten patterns in all. Schizoid withdrawal, or flight from 
relationship, makes an eleventh pattern. 

To make this clear we must refer to Fairbaim's theory of endo- 
psychic structure. The structural organization of the psyche exists 
on two levels, moral and pre-moral, the moral level being the 
central ego level. The pre-moral level consists of the deep uncon- 
scious where lie repressed the internalized bad-object situations 
of the earliest phase of development. Expressed structurally in 
Fairbaim's terms, we have the needed Exciting Object (E.O.) 
hungrily and angrily longed for by the infantile unsatisfied 
Libidinal Ego (L.E.). This represents and preserves the original 
infantile dependent neediness towards the mother, but in a state 
of frustration and intolerable lack of satisfaction. It is aggressive 
love-hunger, both emotional and physical (the physical including 
nutritional and sexual elements), in its earliest forms ; the basic 
libidinal drive towards good-object relationship in the condition 
of being stimulated and not reheved, meeting with disappointment 
and being reduced to the pain of a persistent craving which never 
reaches its object. In the L.E., aggression is in the service of 
libidinal needs. 

This whole Hbidinal situation is fiercely opposed by the Reject- 
ing Object (R.O.) and the Anti-Libidinal Ego (Anti-L.E., Internal 
Saboteur) which is that part of the infantile psyche which is 
identified with the R.O. These two structures together form the 
early sadistic super-ego of Melanie Klein. It represents the angry 
despair of the original unitary infantile ego over the non-satisfac- 
tion of its libidinal needs and its consequent turning in part against 
those needs themselves, and against the E.O. that stimulates them. 
Thus in the Anti-L.E. aggression is now specifically opposed to 
libidinal needs, and the Anti-L.E. may even monopolize aggres- 
sion. Thus we have the L.E. craving for the E.O., and the Anti- 
L.E. and R.O. persecuting both the L.E. and the E.O. But this 
turning of part of the ego against its own libidinal needs is accom- 


plished by its identifying in part with the R.O., ax:ting, so to speak, 
as its agent, and this is a dependent relationship which is Hbidinal 
in essence even though it is anti-libidinal in form. It represents the 
infant going over to the side of the rejective parent against himself. 
If all aggression is absorbed into the Anti-L.E., the L.E. can then 
only have a suffering, masochistic role. 

Here, then, embedded in the unconscious structure of the 
psyche, there exists a basic aggressively dependent Ubidinal situa- 
tion involving the child and the exciting mother (with whose 
mental image are fused later superimposed mother-substitutes), 
and over against that a basic dependent aggressive anti-libidinal 
situation also involving the child and the mother (with later super- 
imposed anti-libidinal hostile figures) and taking two different 
forms, persecution of the L.E. and E.O., and also identification 
with the R.O. The first of these relationships is fundamentally 
Ubidinal (L.E. needing E.O.). The second is fundamentally anti- 
libidinal (Anti-L.E. versus L.E. and E.O.). The third is a mixture 
of both, a libidinal, dependent attachment in an anti-libidinal 
form (Anti-L.E. identified with R.O.). Since these relationships are 
not the same each way, but are unequal and reversible, each com- 
prises two diflPerent relationship patterns, that of the subordinate to 
the superior and that of the superior to the subordinate. Together 
they make up three pre-moral forms of object-relationship, involv- 
ing six different patterns of relationship from the point of view of 
the individual, characterized by immature dependence and imma- 
ture aggression. They also constitute the world of inner reality at 
the deepest pre-moral level of the unconscious. The anti-libidinal 
figures are not as yet moral figures. They do not condemn the L.E. 
with its urgent needs for satisfaction, and enjoyment of and 
security-giving possession of its libidinal object. They simply deny, 
reject and attack. They manifest sadistic rage and cruel destruc- 
tiveness, much of which is, as it were, lent to them by the baby's 
own frustration-rage. Melanie Klein has made it clear that the 
persecuting bad objects of the deepest unconscious, not only 
represent such anger as the actual external parent may display in 
the first place against the child, but also embody the infant's own 
rage against denial, projected on to the object and reintrojected 
as characterizing the object, from whom it is taken back into the 
Anti-L.E. In non- technical language, the baby sees his objects as 
coloured by his own emotions, and internalizes them as such : then 
by reason of his attachment to the object, his object-hate is turned 
into self-hate. In these three object-relationships the infant is 
struggling to solve his problems by keeping in touch with his 
parents and maintaining such object-relations as he can get even 


though they are unsatisfactory. If, however, the difficulties are too 
great, especially in the earliest oral sucking stage, he may give up 
and express his anger by counter-rejection of parents, by with- 
drawing, abolishing relationships in real life at the conscious level 
and developing the pattern of schizoid detachment, a mechanical 
living without feeling. The pattern of the hungry L.E. is repressed 
beneath this. 

It is common enough, both in treatment and in real Hfe, to find 
that whenever the intensification of inner needs activates the 
libidinal patterns (L.E. and E.O.), that is followed by the counter- 
attacking activation of the anti-libidinal patterns (Anti-L.E. versus 
L.E. and E.O. ; Anti-L.E. and R.O.). This in turn further intensi- 
fies needs and a vicious circle or alternation of positive and negative 
transferences is set up. The six patterns of relationship which 
emerge from this deep level — two characterized by the exciting of 
angry needs, two by aggressive hostility to needs, and two by both 
— ^will repay close and detailed study. In the aggressively needy 
libidinal relationships the small, weak, needy child has all its 
desires excited by the big, strong, potentially supporting, satisfy- 
ing and protective adult. It is very commonly the case that im- 
mature people attract one another because their expressions of 
need for love, their bid for affection by pleasing and friendliness 
and even self-sacrificing behaviour, may appear like a capacity to 
give love. In that case a difficult situation is Ukely to arise between 
two immature needy people, each of whom is the E.O. to the other 
but both of whom are in a state of very imperfectly resolved in- 
fantile dependence. Each wants to lean on and demands to be 
looked after by the other, sometimes actively and sometimes pas- 
sively, and they will oscillate uneasily between the role of the one 
who wants to be supported and the role of the one who wants to 
give support. One such couple may 'get along' by being mother 
and child to each other by turns. Another such couple may quarrel 
because each is determined that the other must give way and fit 
in, and both want to be either the mother or the child at the same 
time. Infatuation, with its aftermath of disillusionment, is the 
projection of the internal E.O. on to an unsuitable figure in real 

From this infantile situation, perpetuated into later life as an 
endopsychic situation, there surge up into adult consciousness 
compulsive sexual desires of all kinds, demandingness, longings for 
love in any form such as fussing, praise, approval, recognition, 
gifts, attention, and also all the compulsions towards compliant, 
pleasing, submissive and toadying behaviour designed to win some 
response from another person who is taken to be the indispensable 


'needed object' for the time being. Where this condition is very 
marked, anyone who offers any degree of recognition, friendliness 
or help at once becomes the E.O. In Fairbaim's view this is con- 
spicuously true of the Hysteric who is constantly seeking good 
objects in the outer world. The pattern conditions the psychology 
of much self-effacing 'unselfishness' of a compulsive type, as the 
basically love-starved person alternates between being the child 
directly seeking love, and the disguised child indirectly seeking it 
by filling the role of the unselfish mother-figure who gives it. This 
oscillation comes about because this type of relationship, charac- 
terized by a desperate sense of needy dependence on the object 
and unsatisfied craving, is unequal (as between the one who 'needs' 
and feels small, weak, helpless, inferior, and the one who is 
'needed' and is seen as strong, big and superior) ; it is also painful. 
It contains inherently, strong motives for a change which can be 
secured only by reversing the relationship, tipping the see-saw the 
other way. Now the aim turns into a desire to feel the superior 
person needed by other weaker, dependent folk, to be indis- 
pensable, to lay others under obligation, to collect a retinue of 
inferior persons among whom one can feel superior and important 
and by whom one can be looked up to and admired. The longing 
for love is still there and but thinly disguised. The first situation 
gives the psychology of all parasitical attitudes, of hero worship 
and childish admiration, and of infatuations. The second or re- 
versed situation gives the psychology of people who are dependent 
on being surrounded by others who depend on them, and who 
break down if they are left alone because they cannot keep going 
without the help of apparently weaker people who make it easier 
for them to deny their own repressed dependence. Thus in a 
basically dependent relationship it is possible to play the roles of 
either the helpless or the responsible person. This often appears 
in the case of people who can easily either 'boss' and get all their 
own way or be ill, go to bed and be nursed. (The mother who rules 
the family by means of her headaches.) Whether these libidinal 
relationships are looked at from the angle of the one who directly 
seeks love, or the one who indirectly seeks it by giving it, sooner 
or later the basically aggressive character of immature love 
emerges as a devouring possessiveness, and a ruthless demand for 
absolute compliance from the partner and angry reactions to the 
slightest frustration. This is because the whole pattern arises out of 
original frustration of libidinal needs in infancy. Over-dependent 
relationships are inherently unstable in adult life because they are 
painfully humiliating and can be so easily reversed. Very de- 


pendent people feel and behave in childish ways because they 
react from the inner situation which perpetuates childhood. 

In the aggressive anti-libidinal relation the small, weak, needy 
child, the L.E., is hostilely rejected or angrily attacked by the big, 
strong, overpowering, unloving adult, and is reduced to obtaining 
what satisfaction he can from his sufferings. The L.E. is also 
persecuted by another part of the total ego that has deserted to 
the enemy (Anti-L.E.). This inner situation is the prototype of 
all sado-masochistic relationships in adult life, in which aggression 
is used, not to further libidinal aims, but to suppress them. It can 
be traced out easily where parents have been addicted to phy- 
sically beating the child or indulging in mental cruelty to it, situa- 
tions regularly perpetuated in the inner world and relived in 
dreams. This relation between an aggressive attacker and a fright- 
ened victim, an angry parent and a timid but resentful child, is 
also unequal, painful and reversible. The victim can escape by 
turning the tables, if not on the original persecutor, then on some 
substitute. This gives us the pattern of the person who is meekly 
enduring towards superiors but harsh and tyrannical towards sub- 
ordinates, who can alternate between the roles of the sadist and 
masochist, the harsh boss and the cringing servant. It appears in 
the child who is submissive out of fear at home, but bites, punches 
and pushes playmates. It emerges in psychoneurotic form in the 
person who masochistically endures his own sadism and either 
suffers severely under hysteric body pains or distressing psycho- 
somatic symptoms, or else reviles and abuses himself with verbal 
contempt. He may, however, fly into temper outbursts and sudden 
rages against other people out of sheer need to relieve his internal 
self-persecution. Aggression is either internalized to produce suf- 
fering to oneself, or discharged outwardly to hurt others. 

When the desired good objective-relationship with the rejective 
parent is unobtainable, a substitute for it is found in identifica- 
tion with that parent. The formation of the Anti-L.E. by identi- 
fication with the R.O. expresses the child's libidinal need of, and 
increased dependence on, even the unsatisfying parent. Thus the 
harsh or cold, unloving characteristics of the R.O. are reproduced. 
The R.O. becomes the model to be admired for toughness, 
strength, independence. A dependent hbidinal relationship is set 
up which has an anti-libidinal form. Here, also, an alternation of 
roles sets in, for the person who hero-worships a dictator wants to 
be a dictator himself over other people. He then craves to be 
surrounded by inferiors who will slavishly admire him the more 
domineeringly he treats them. Yet as soon as his own superior 
comes on the scene, he at once becomes the slave. Thus we see six 


different roles emerge on this pre-moral infantile level, that of the 
L.E. to the E.O., of the E.O. to the L.E., of the Anti-L.E. to the 
L.E. (and E.O.), of the L.E. to the Anti-L.E., of the Anti-L.E. to 
the R.O., and of the R.O. to the Anti-L.E. These six fundamental 
ways of relating to another person are clearly recognizable through 
all their variations from one person to another in real life. 

This remarkable see-saw propensity or oscillation of roles in 
both the immature libidinal and the anti-libidinal relationships is 
facilitated by the fact that at deep unconscious levels all relation- 
ships involve the ego in varying degrees of identification with the 
object. The psyche includes within itself both ego-structures and 
object-structures, and it can, as it were, take up its stand in either 
without ceasing to be the other. Thus the whole activity of the 
relationship can be carried on within the bounds of the total per- 
sonality, bodily and mental ; i.e. these internal ego-object relation- 
ship patterns are acted out either in the inner world of feeling and 
phantasy to produce neurotic illness and symptoms, or else 
in the outer world to produce neurotic behaviour disorders. 
Narcissistic and autoerotic behaviour, taking the form of manifest 
self-love or self-hate, seems to lie mid-way between the two. In 
masturbation, for example, the individual is both the comforter 
and the comforted, both the E.O. and the L.E. In the case of 
egotistical persons, the individual is both the admirer and the 
admired, just as in self -hatred he is both the hater and the hated. 
Some people when angry bang their heads, or punch and hit them- 
selves, and behave as both the attacker and the victim. In milder 
ways, many people have a prevailing attitude of either nursing or 
of being hostile to themselves. In the objective relationships with 
other real persons, the deeply rooted tendencies to identify with 
the love-object and also with the object of one's aggression con- 
stantly lead to the oscillation of roles that we have noted. 

In that case the endopsychic ego-object relationship is external- 
ized and some other person in the outer world is forced into the 
role of either the ego or the object. If he is treated as the object, 
he will be clung to with a secretly aggressive dependence or else 
feared as an enemy; if he is treated as the ego, he will be the re- 
cipient of compulsive impulses to help, reject or attack him. Either 
way he cannot be left alone, cannot be allowed any proper inde- 
pendence, which reveals the basically aggressive attitude to the 
object. It is through this process of externalizing the bad inner 
situation (which serves for a time to relieve inner tension at the 
expense of outer peace) that endopsychic relationships come to 
have such far-reaching sociological significance. The outer en- 
vironment may help the process by inviting such extemalization. 


Situations will at times arise in outer reality which parallel to some 
extent the corresponding situation in the inner world. The result 
is a disturbing over-reaction to the outer object or event in terms 
of all that it felt in the inner world. It is because living becomes 
such a strain when conducting all the ordinary personal relation- 
ships and is fraught with so much conflict and anxiety, that refuge 
may be taken either temporarily or in a more radical and per- 
manent way in schizoid detachment, a method of carrying on the 
necessary contacts with people in a purely mechanical way without 
emotion. As one such patient said quite simply, 'It's safer not to 
feel.' This may be regarded as a ninth, negative pattern. 

These inner situations of the pre-moral period all arise around 
libidinal issues, the infant's frustrated and angry struggle to get his 
basic love-needs met, and to retain permanent possession of his 
love-object, good or bad, always in the last resort the breast- 
mother. At this level 'good' and 'bad' mean libidinally, not 
morally, good and bad, i.e. satisfying, or unsatisfying and frighten- 
ing. The bad objects which are internalized either excite without 
satisfying or else actively reject and attack the infantile ego. But 
from the weaning period onwards through the phase of cleanliness 
training and socialization, parents turn into figures who deny the 
child the original intimate libidinal relationships as disciplinarian 
moral authorities who train the child to reject its own wishes (i.e. 
libidinal needs for the good-object relationship in which his own 
personality can flourish) and to do what other people wish and 
require instead. The issue is no longer solely that of the child's 
needs for the 'libidinally good' but the parents' demands for the 
'morally right', even when, realistically, the parents' demands are 
so narrowly based on their own convenience that no real moral 
issue arises. The whole libidinal situation of infancy has come to 
an end, though, naturally, the extent to which that is true varies 
in diff'erent cases. With parents whose own libidinal inhibitions are 
severe, the child may feel completely cast out of the Garden of 
Eden and faced with the angel with the flaming sword who forbids 
any return. The sexually exciting breast is replaced by the sword 
of moral retribution. When the child, whose deep emotional needs 
now seem to be disallowed, finds that the breast (and all breast 
equivalents) are forbidden, he secretly steals it back again by redis- 
covering it in his own body (as in thumb-sucking and masturba- 
tion) or in the body of another (as in childish sexual games and, 
later on, adult sexual relationships). He then feels terrible guilt. 
The moral level has been reached, albeit as yet only in the childish 
form. The guilt that attaches to sex arises out of the struggle to 
overcome infantile dependence by repression of the L.E. Pre-moral 


infantile anxiety and fear have become childish moral shame and 
guilt, with the earlier emotions persisting underneath. Thus an 
able, unmarried, business man in the forties had three times been 
overwhelmed with a sense of dread and doom, coupled with 
severe sexual guilt, over attempts to get engaged and married. He 
was in the habit of drawing phantasies and making up stories 
about them, and one day he drew a beautiful garden surrounded 
by a high wall guarded with fearsome steel spikes on the outside. 
In the shadows outside the wall a baby sat forlorn, holding out its 
arms towards the garden. His story was that the baby had once 
been in the garden and had been cast out, and now 'is not only not 
allowed to return but mustn't even remember it or think of it'. 
Marriage and a happy sexual relationship to him meant forcing 
a re-entry into the garden, and aroused the furies of a forbidding 
conscience which was largely based on the internalization of an 
exceptionally 'strong-minded', high-principled, righteously anti- 
libidinal mother. 

Guilt arises from two sources — from the infant's anxiety over 
being destructive to his love-objects as a result of the intensity of 
his greed and hate, and from the fact that parents who have failed 
to enable the child to mature his libidinal needs beyond the 'infan- 
tile dependent' level feel they must force him to give them up, in 
order that he may grow up to be what they regard as a normally 
mature and independent adult. The child has to be emotionally 
weaned. The more rapidly, harshly and unwisely this is done, the 
more frustrated and angry the baby feels for the more unsatisfied 
he remains deep down ; and the more aggressive feelings are 
roused, the more guilt the child feels over the persistence of 
libidinal desires in infantile form. These it may be forced to give 
up at the conscious level before it has had time to grow out of them 
by a true maturing. The result may be more or less complete 
libidinal repression, instead of a gradual development of libidinal 
needs into maturer forms. The problem is to wean the child emo- 
tionally and physically from infantile personal-cum-sexual needs 
and dependence without arousing too much aggression, and with- 
out setting up guilt and inhibitions which prevent his achieving the 
adult level of character and therefore of sexuality. This, it seems, 
is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible to do with total success. 
At any rate it is rarely achieved in fact without some residue of 
inner conflict situations. The danger is that libidinal inhibition is 
not confined simply to the narrowly sexual sphere of functioning ; 
it inhibits general spontaneity and creativity throughout the whole 

To the six immature pre-moral patterns of relationship already 


considered we have now to add four immature childhood moral 
patterns : the small and essentially dependent child, who inwardly 
cannot give up his longings for a libidinal relationship to parents 
and who feels his Ubidinal needs in an angry and aggressive way, 
is faced with a powerful parent who is a judge and condemner of 
his 'naughty' impulses. He may no longer have and do what he 
wants, he must be content to have and do what parents approve 
(and other authorities as well). In proportion as he rebels and 
defiantly goes back to his earlier hbidinal desires and frustration- 
rages concerning them, as when he masturbates, or plays childish 
sexual games, or seeks to gratify his growing sexual curiosity about 
adults, finally seeking adult sexual relationship, and in general 
wants to enjoy and feel secure in intimate love-bonds, he is made 
to feel guilty. The sexual element in all this represents unsatisfied 
infantile dependent needs for satisfying personal relationships, not 
'instinctive sexuality' per se. One patient's mother set herself, 
during his school and adolescent days, to make him a serious- 
minded boy who did not 'frivol away' his time with girls but 
achieved brilliant exam results. Life was switched over from the 
emotional to the intellectual, from enjoyment of j>ersonal satis- 
factions to duty. The results of such a policy are seen in the extreme 
cases of the brilliant student who commits suicide on the eve of 
an exam, and is said to have been 'studying too hard'. The parents 
as moral figures are internalized and form the Ideal Object (I.O.) 
(super-ego qua ego-ideal) to help the Central Ego (C.E.) to reject 
and defend itself against those other aspects of parents who were 
internalized earlier as libidinally exciting and rejecting figures. So 
there is now set up in the inner world an endopsychic situation in 
which a childish ego is for ever guilty, fearing the criticism and 
disapproval of a parental judge either for its Hbidinal need or its 
aggression ; as in a patient's nightmare of his mother, twelve years 
after her death, appearing to him with a violently angry face 
shouting, 'What have you done ?' These two immature moral rela- 
tions, condemnation of libidinal need and aggression, involve four 
different individual patterns. 

This is not the adult level of freely developed moral evaluation 
and insight of a realistic order. It is a child's morahty of fear based 
on the dread of the loss of parental love in the form of approval, 
and acquiescence in a relationship solely in terms of the parent's 
will. The aim now has to be no longer to 'enjoy' but to 'do the 
right thing', i.e. right in the other person's eyes, not in one's own, 
since the child's need dictates the aim of keeping the needed object 
at all costs. This internalized moral dependent object-relationship 


is, like the libidinal and aggressive dependent ones, unequal and 
hostile, since it is still a child-adult relation resting on frustration 
of deeply felt needs. It is also a painful relationship because it 
operates by means of guilt, and is frequently represented in dreams 
in terms of the criminal and the police, law-court scenes and the 
inflicting of punishment. Furthermore it is inherently unstable, 
generating urgent desires to escape from the inferior criticized 
position; thus it is also reversible, escape being achieved by the 
see-saw tipping of the balance the other way, turning the tables 
and criticizing other folk. Thus we find many people who prac- 
tically always feel and behave towards others either as a guilty, 
worried child expecting to be blamed, or as a sharp-eyed, nagging 
parent looking for faults. The situation persists internally in the 
form of self-criticism, and is externalized either as a need for 
punishment at the hands of others or as vindictive moral ruthless- 
ness towards them. In terms of this endopsychic situation people 
alternately play the roles of guilty inferiors with a bad conscience 
(of a quite unrealistic kind) or of morally superior critics of all 
and sundry. 

This moral object-relation overlays the earlier pre-moral ones, 
and then takes the forms either of dependent or aggressive moral- 
ity. Thus a person may be unable to act without the approval of 
others or else unable to abstain from attempts to control and direct 
others' lives; and again, in the aggressive sense, liable to maso- 
chistic punishing forms of suffering, including the compulsion to 
turn vocational work into a punishing way of Hfe, or compulsive 
desires to inflict cruel punishment on others, a compulsion which 
accounts for much parental sadism towards children. All im- 
mature morality has a cruel streak in it, a compulsion to inflict 
and to accept suffering as punishment. The immature moral rela- 
tionship exists in two recognizably different forms, that of the 
C.E. repressing the L.E. and E.O., and that of the G.E. repressing 
the Anti-L.E. and the R.O. In proportion as the C.E. is occupied 
chiefly with repression, it tends more and more to take on the 
characteristics of the Anti-L.E. Each of these forms can be 'lived 
out' as it were from either end, giving us four immature moral- 
relationship patterns, those of the person frightened of condemna- 
tion and those of the person finding a hostile satisfaction in the 
act of condemning, for either libidinal or aggressive activities. The 
'Nonconformist Conscience' has all too often exhibited this kind 
of immaturity, and so also in even more marked form has the 
*Hell-fire Preaching' of many evangelicals of a past generation. 
But this type is by no means confined to religion of an immature 


kind but is a general phenomenon. Much of the so-called sexual 
morality embodied in public opinion is kept alive by immature 
people whose frustrations are revealed in their prying curiosity 
about their neighbours' 'affaires', while their moral condemnations 
reveal all too clearly the workings of an aggressively Anti-L.E. 

We may now tabulate the minimum irreducible types of object- 
relationship, which appear to be eight in number, giving rise to 
fourteen relationship-patterns. Six of these can be realized in two 
forms since they represent immature relations between persons 
who are not emotional equals, one being dependent on the other. 
These patterns are essentially properties of the internal psychic 
world, developing out of the infant's struggle to outgrow infantile 
dependence in terms of dealings, in Fairbaim's transitional period, 
with objects internalized in the earhest period. The fifth (ix) rela- 
tionship-pattern is really the attempt to abolish emotional object- 
relations and replace them by mechanical ones. The eighth 
relationship-pattern, being a relationship between two fully mature 
and emotionally equal partners, is the same either way and admits 
of only one form. It is, moreover, not a relationship that belongs 
to the inner world, but one that is realized objectively in outer 
reality. It is the goal towards which the psyche is growing through 
all the earlier forms, and it impKes a full capacity to live in creative 
and loving ways with one's fellows. 

The Basic Forms of Human Relationship 

I. Original Libidinal : Infantile Symbiosis with Mother. A satis- 
fying and non-aggressively dependent relation of ego to object. 
Satisfaction experienced in oneness based on primary identifica- 
tion of ego with object. In the womb, a state of bliss, of direct 
enjoyment of the object in complete but unrealized depend- 
ence. Its attempted revival by secondary identification after 
birth, and regression in feeling and phantasy leads to claustro- 
phobic anxieties of being stifled, swallowed. The original bliss 
partly recaptured by the baby at the satisfying breast. The rela- 
tionship is stable when satisfying since there is no inner motive 
for change, 
i. The baby depending on the mature and satisfying mother, 
ii. The mature and satisfying mother carrying, or nursing, 
the baby. Regressive escapes from later disturbed positions 
back to (i) give rise to the pattern of the helpless child and 
the protective comforter. 


The Schizoid Level, Pre-Civilized Disturbed Patterns 

2. Pre-moral Libidinal : Aggressively Dependent. The Libidinal 
Ego with natural needs stimulated by the unsatisfying Exciting 
Object. An unequal relation between a needy child and a 
needed parent, a reversible parent-child pattern involving frus- 
tration and instability. 

iii. The infantile dependent person possessively longing for a 
iv. The infantile dependent person possessively trying to be a 

3. Pre-moral Anti-Libidinal : Aggressively Rejective. The 
Libidinal Ego as a needy, frightened, rejected child masochis- 
tically suffering under the angry, Rejective Object, the sadistic 
adult. An unequal relationship giving rise to a child-parent 
pattern involving great hostility and therefore unstable and 

V. The infantile dependent person persecuted and rejected, 
vi. The infantile dependent person persecuting and rejecting 

4. Pre-moral Mixed : Libidinal and Aggressive. The Anti- 
Libidinal Ego, the child, placating the Rejecting Object by 
giving up needs and identifying with the parent's anti-libidinal 
attitudes. A frustrating relationship, unstable ; and a reversible 

vii. The weak fearfully admiring the ruthless strong, 
viii. The pseudo-strong infantile dependent person demanding 
admiration from the submissive weak one. 

There are only two ways out of the difficulties of the disturbed 
immature relationships of 2, 3 and 4 ; the real solution is that of 
growth to maturity, 8. A false solution is often attempted by the 
ego in the form of an escape, 5. 

5. Schizoid Withdrawal. The escape from too great pressure by 
abolishing emotional relationships altogether in favour of an 
introverted and withdrawn personality which is unable to show 
any feeling. 

ix. The cold, detached person who acts mechanically with 

The Depressed Level. The Struggle to Reach the Civilized Level 

6. Immature Moral : Dependent Morality. Relationships based 
on the childish conscience founded on fear, the child seeking 


security through approval, for the giving up of his hbidinal 
needs and aggressions. 
X. The infantile dependent person fearing disapproval of his 

libidinal (sexual) needs. 
xi. The infantile dependent person fearing disapproval of his 

7. Immature Moral : Aggressive Morality. The former relation- 
ships are unstable because of the hostiUty involved, and the 
pattern can be reversed thus : 

xii. The infantile dependent person condemning others' needs, 
xiii. The infantile dependent person condemning others' angers. 

The Mature Civilized Level 

8. Mature both Libidinally and Morally. The fully adult 
relationships between emotional equals, characterized by 
mutuality, spontaneity, co-operation, preservation of individual- 
ity and valuable differences, and by stability. The relationship 
is irreversible and stable, having no motive for change. Its 
morality is implicit, not imposed, a natural acceptance of obli- 
gations to other people. 

xiv. The relationship of mature dependence in equal partner- 
ship and friendship ; love, i.e. capacity to give to another a 
relationship in which his personality can flourish. 

In the actual experience of human beings all these patterns jostle 
one another at times almost inextricably in the ebb and flow of 
emotional reactions. Conceptualization demands clear statement, 
but this does not have to imply a false isolation of any of the 
tendencies in practice. This is not intended to be a rigid theory of 
'types'. It is, however, true that some one pattern can become the 
most marked character trait of an individual, and its fixity may 
be very difficult to undermine. 

A brief hint at the sociological bearing of this analysis may be 
given. The actual relationships of men and women in society are 
characterized by the ultimate aim of striving to achieve xiv, the 
mature adult capacity for equality and co-partnership in general, 
with mutuality in private friendships and free unselfish love in 
marriage. But this aim is perpetually obstructed and often defeated 
by the fact that individuals live, not only in the outer social world 
of the present day, where it would be possible, other things being 
equal, to react in realistic and reasonable ways, but also in the 
inner world of psychic reality which perpetuates childhood. Here 
a large part of their emotional and impulsive resources are tied 


up in the immature object-relation situations of i to xiii. They are 
compelled by infantile need systems to deal with their outer world 
in terms of their inner world, and their behaviour, needs and 
moods become unstable, unreliable, changeable, critical or guilty, 
hostile or subservient, dominating or demanding by turns. A major 
defensive technique adopted to avoid these painful situations is 
the attempt to stifle all feeling, break off all real human relation- 
ships and live as a merely efficient, impersonal, mechanized human 
robot, the schizoid type of personality. One might almost call this 
denial of relationship a negative type of relation. 

Psycho-analytically orientated anthropologists have made pioneer 
studies correlating the patterns of child-rearing prevalent in a given 
society and the culture of that society. PrevaiUng patterns of child- 
rearing must result in similar internalized situations in the uncon- 
scious of the majority of individuals in a culture, and these will be 
externalized back into the culture again to perpetuate it from 
generation to generation. A vicious circle is set up of internal 
patterns on the one hand and social traditions and political trends 
on the other. Politics, as much as other spheres of life, is a happy 
hunting-ground for the 'acting out' of immature relationship- 
patterns, especially in disturbed times. 

1 . Mature. Democracy at least aims at achieving a social order 
in which people function as responsible, free and equal co-opera- 
tors, though in a 1946 broadcast Herbert Read suggested that 
large-scale democracy was now wedded to centralization and con- 
trol, and only anarchism and decentralization could secure the 
original democratic aims. How a large-scale society of mature 
people would organize their life we have yet to see. 

2. Moral. Theocratic, state-paternalistic, puritanical and legal 
systems come broadly under this head, including modem totali- 
tarianism in its role of controlling the entire life of, and even 
dictating opinion to, the individual citizens, by the identification 
of education and propaganda. 

3. Anti-LibidinaL Military dictatorships and empires based 
on conquest or financial domination, and modern totalitarianism 
in its role of the police state with Gestapo or Ogpu, and its ap- 
paratus of concentration camps and persecution, and its relapse 
from civilized standards to cruelty and the denial of human rights 
to dissidents, come under this head. 

4. Dependent. In a degenerate form, the welfare state of a 
*panem et circenses' type, or any kind of state which undermines 
individual initiative and responsibility, is of this type. The 'Fear of 
Freedom' {vide E. Fromm) that leads nations to barter liberty for 
security under 'The Leader' comes into this category. 


Ultimately social organization will reflect the dominant psycho- 
logical trends in the majority of the individuals who make up the 
^roup. One major issue emerges from all this. The instability of 
the childish and immature types of relationship is due, not only to 
their inherently unsatisfying and painful nature, but also to the 
developmental urge to grow up and become self-reliant and 
normally independent. For a mature person the necessary element 
of dependence in any real relationship does not compromise the 
essential integrity and proper independence of the individual. For 
an immature person, whose dependent needs are so strong as to 
menace independence, dependent and independent needs are felt 
as incompatible goals and there is a perpetual oscillation between 
them. Life becomes an unremitting struggle to defend one's need 
For independence against one's need for personal relationships. 
This basic conflict underHes all personal and political phenomena, 
and emerges as the conflicting aims of security and freedom, and 
as the fight for Liberty of class or nation versus the hunger for 
leadership and a 'Fuehrer'. With the increasing lai^e-scale destruc- 
tiveness of modem scientific weapons, the world's greatest danger 
lies in the rise to absolute power of types of men who combine top- 
rank intellectual ability with deeply disturbed and immature 
personalities wedded particularly to sado-masochistic motivational 
patterns. They have a fatal and profound attraction towards 
iestructiveness and, like Hitler, can be equally prepared to con- 
quer by ruthlessness, or to destroy themselves amidst a universal 

Chapter XVIII 


It was stated in chapter I that the ultimate puqDOse of theoreti- 
cal enquiry was to further the aims of psychotherapy. We seek 
to understand human nature so that we may solve the serious and 
dangerous problems of human maladjustment in personal rela- 
tionships. The opinion is frequently voiced that in our time the 
failure to solve these problems might well lead to the extinction of 
this phase of civilization, if not of the human race : for at present 
all peaceful and constructive uses of scientific knowledge are over- 
shadowed by its use to increase our capacity for mutual destruc- 
tion. Can scientific knowledge about the human mind be saved 
from the fate of being put to destructive uses? Hate-ridden and 
destructively motivated dictators, and rulers with paranoid and 
psychopathic personality trends, could make use (and perhaps 
have already made use) of scientific knowledge of the weak spots 
in human personality to further their ends of power-politics. I 
have expressed the view elsewhere that 'psycho-analysis as a 
purely scientific technique of investigation . . . may discover facts 
about the way the human mind develops from infancy onwards, 
that could be used for the shaping of psychological conditioning 
techniques of diabolical efficiency. The mobilization of childhood 
guilt in political prisoners to "soften them up" before trial, is a 
case in point.' (1956b, p. 165.) 

Nevertheless, our fears of the probable misuse of discoverable 
knowledge cannot now prevent the progress of scientific research 
any more in psychology than in nuclear physics. The only safe- 
guard is to see the dangers clearly and sharpen our realization of 
the need to defend those freedoms which express respect for human 
personality as such, while we push on with the constructive uses 
of the knowledge we have. What, then, are the fundamental con- 
clusions that emerge so far, as a result of this particular historical 
and comparative study of the course of development and the 
differing emphases in the field of psycho-analysis ? I shall seek to 
present these conclusions in this chapter in a more general theoret- 


ical form, as a picture of the 'human situation', of which theory 
gives an abstract account to clarify the implications for psycho- 

Fairbaim has arrived at one general and fundamental conclu- 
sion, namely, that the root cause of all personality disturbance and 
neurosis is the unconscious f>ersistence within the adult personality 
of too strong an element of infantile dependence. Psychopathology 
reduces in the end to the description of infantile dependence, its 
forms of persistence and ramifications in the personality, and the 
psychic defences set up against it. The human child, for whatso- 
ever reason, does not always grow up to be psychically adult. That 
is what we seek to understand. Emotional resistances must have 
always obstructed the perception of this really very obvious fact, 
and prevented its statement as a simple, basic, general truth ; for 
there is nothing that grown-ups feel to be so humiliating as the 
'accusation' of childishness (and psycho-analytical interpretations 
are usually at first felt to be accusations). Adults fear the child in 
themselves and everything that keeps him alive inside, as a danger 
to the maintenance of their adult social and vocational roles, and 
as hkely to expose them to unwelcome criticism or even scorn 
from those who are secretly as afraid as themselves. They deny 
the existence of the child in the unconscious. 

It will be well, therefore, first to present this unpalatable truth, 
that we do not succeed very well in growing up, in a broad and 
impersonal way. It makes a great deal of difference to the direction 
of therapeutic efforts, whether psychoneurosis is regarded as due 
to hereditary or to developmental causes ; but, beyond that, it also 
makes a great difference whether the cause of neurosis is sought in 
some particular factor such as the Oedipus complex or in a general 
factor such as a too-strong undercurrent of infantile dependent 
feeling expressing a basic immaturity of development in the per- 
sonality as a whole. Is the Oedipus complex the cause of infantile 
dependence persisting into adult life, or is it simply one expres- 
sion of that dependence? Freud began with the former view. To 
the present writer the clinical evidence that determined Fairbaim 
to the latter view is convincing. In the Oedipus complex and 
infantile sexuality, Freud discovered the clinically verifiable 
evidence of the infant still unconsciously emotionally alive inside 
the biological adult. How and why is this possible ? 

I . Biological and Social Dependence of the Child 

We are on solid ground in saying that what makes neurosis 
possible to begin with is the prolonged biological dependence of 


the human offspring on the parents. In the lower forms of life, 
days, weeks or months suffice to make the young independent of 
those who begot them. The period of dependence lengthens as 
the forms of Ufe grow more complex, but nowhere is there any 
real parallel to the case of the human child. Here biological de- 
pendence is profound for a very long time, so utterly helpless is the 
human infant to fend for himself. As time goes on, both in the life 
of the individual and in the historical development of cultures, 
the original biological and physical dependence is lengthened into 
educational, social and economic dependence. The increasing 
complexity of civilization makes this inevitable. Thus, whereas in 
primitive tribes adolescence occurs in the earlier teens, in our 
modem society it has been pushed forward into the late teens. In 
simple cultures a male can acquire the status of a man in the 
middle teens and a female may be a wife at fifteen years or earlier, 
and physical maturing comes early. In our modem Western cul- 
ture a male may not be able to achieve adult status in his own 
right, socially and economically, by the age of twenty-five, and 
marriage for both males and females may well come nearer thirty 
than twenty. 

Thus, even in primitive cultures the dependence of childhood 
remains an overriding factor for some fifteen years, and amongst 
ourselves it persists in the material circumstances of life for any- 
thing from twenty to thirty years, long after the natural desires for 
independence reach maximum conscious force. But we have also 
to reckon with the fact that, in addition to this fundamental de- 
pendence characterizing most of the first twenty years of life at 
least, the human young are also endowed with the human gifts 
of high intelligence and imaginative, creative powers far above 
all other forms of life. These confer on the developmental process 
an urge to activity and exploration, i.e. a premature drive to 
independence which makes it difficult to tolerate basic dependent 
needs. This setting for our early development predisposes human 
beings as such, and conspicuously in modem civili2sation, to ex- 
perience acute conflicts of the 'dependence versus independence' 
order. For underneath all the external and visible ties and bonds, 
the primary emotional dependence of the child on the parent has 
had years in which to consolidate its hold on the basic structure of 
the personality. Even though the struggle to achieve freedom 
for independent action begins so early in childhood, the conditions 
of human existence make it an exceptionally difficult thing for the 
child to grow out of the infantile dependence of its earliest rela- 
tionships to the mother and the father. Freud regarded that as the 
deepest conditioning factor in the development of religion, whereas 


he regarded science as the fruit of man's attempt to master his 
universe and make himself self-sufficient. Put that way it is easy 
to regard religion as infantile and science as adult, but the matter 
is not so simple. Dependence is, in fact, an ineradicable element 
in human nature, and the whole development of love and the 
affections arises out of our needs for one another. From this point 
of view religion is concerned with the basic fact of personal rela- 
tionship and man's quest for a radical solution to the problems 
that arise out of his dependent nature. Without the acceptance of 
that measure of dependence that lies at the heart of all human 
needs for relationships, one becomes incapable of love, friendship, 
marriage or any truly human co-oj>erative activity. On the other 
hand, science, by concentrating on impersonal investigation and 
by the quest for power which aims at self-sufficiency, may well 
cultivate mental attitudes unsympathetic to the basic emotional 
dependencies of life. We cannot simply equate religion with im- 
maturity and science with maturity as Freud wished to do. The 
problem of dependence in human nature cannot be solved as easily 
as that. 

The problem is not dependence as such, for that is a permanent 
feature of man's nature, but the persistence of dependent charac- 
teristics in too infantile a form. Naturally, reHgion, dealing as 
it does with the emotional needs of human beings as persons, will 
be more liable to adulteration by the importation of infantile de- 
pendence into its motivation than will science. Nevertheless, man 
has shown an age-old desire for the emotional security that would 
result from the knowledge that our life as 'persons' arises out of 
and remains rooted in a fundamentally 'personal' element in the 
structure of the universe. It is the task of philosopher and theo- 
logian to show whether that is realistic, but he would be a bold, 
foolish man who should insist that that is in itself a neurotic wish. 
It appears to the present writer that it would be easier to prove, on 
psycho-analytic grounds, that a sustained attitude of solitary 
defiance of an indifferent, impersonal, ultimate reality {vide 
Bertrand Russell) is neurotic. To show that man's infantile de- 
pendence has sought succour in religion seems to imply two 
things : first, that such infantile dependence is a universal human 
phenomenon to be found in all races, cultures and times, and, 
secondly, that the problem of human life is how to deal with this 
infantile dependence in such a way as to free the person for growth 
to a kind of dependence that is an essential part of maturity. 
Religion has not ignored this problem, even though it has had to 
struggle with it in the absence of scientific knowledge of human 


The discovery of psycho-analysis that grown-up people are still 
children at heart elaborates in factual detail a truth that has always 
been part of the religious view of life. In what sense and how far 
*a child' is the question. For, allowing for the inherent difficulty 
of outgrowing dej>endence of a childlike order in view of our pro- 
found biological dependence on parents in early life, the fact is 
that the majority of human beings do not grow out of that even 
to the extent that would be possible. Mature religion would express 
man's> fundamentally dependent nature, in a relationship of emo- 
tional rapport with and reverence for external reality as a whole, 
immediate and universal, symbolized in a meaningful philosophy 
of life representing that mature dependence which is part of the 
adult character : while psychotherapy, and also religion in so far 
as it has functioned all down the ages in a psychotherapeutic 
manner, are concerned with helping individuals to deal with their 
immature dependence of an infantile order. The usual course of 
events is that at the deepest mental levels this infantile dependence 
is not and cannot be, completely outgrown. It persists as an un- 
conscious factor even in the maturest adult. Every human being 
feels to be in the depths of his nature a dependent being and spends 
a third of his life in bed asleep to prove it. For the rest he struggles 
to maintain a transitory indepvendence for a short space of time in 
the world of adult responsibility and satisfaction. The political 
phenomenon of the rise of totalitarianism in our time, and what 
Erich Fromm called 'the fear of freedom', is evidence of how 
widespread this problem is. 

2. Pathological Dependence 

When we seek to understand this, psycho-analysis directs our 
attention unequivocally to certain facts. If, in addition to the pro- 
longed natural dependence of the human child on parents, the 
child meets in the parental and family situation with additional 
difficulties, the task of growing up to emotional maturity may well 
prove insuperable. So absolute is the infant's need for reliable 
maternal support in the form of full satisfaction, not only of nutri- 
tional but even more of psychological, personal needs, that the best 
mother is bound to be a 'bad object' sometimes. Fairbaim writes : 

It must be recognized, of course, that no individual bom into this 
world is so fortunate as to enjoy a perfect object-relationship during 
the impressionable period of infantile dependence, or for that matter 
during the transition period which succeeds it. Consequently, no one 
ever becomes completely emancipated from the state of infantile 
dependence, or from some proportionate degree of oral fixation; and 


there is no one who has completely escaped the necessity of incor- 
porating his early objects. It may consequently be inferred that there 
is present in everyone either an underlying schizoid or an under- 
lying depressive tendency. (1952a, p. 56.) 

If in large numbers of cases mothering is, to use Winnicott's 
phrase, 'good enough' to enable the child to get through life with- 
out specific breakdown, it is not good enough to produce a high 
level of mental health and maturity of personality throughout the 
community. Perhaps it would be surprising if it were, when we 
consider all the difficulties that the mother herself may have to 
contend with, ranging from those that spring from her own up- 
bringing to those that arise from, maybe, a disturbing husband or 
social and economic insecurities. Varying degrees of neurotic 
instabiUty, though short of definite illness, are the rule rather than 
the exception. Enormous numbers of children find their parents 
too unreliable and disturbing to be coped with successfully. The 
children do not obtain those 'vitamins of personality growth' that 
collectively make up mature parental love or 'cherishing'. As Fair- 
bairn puts it, the parent does not succeed in convincing the child 
that he is loved as a real person in his own right. The parent does 
not have to be a grossly bad parent to fail the child in this respect. 
Dr. L. Housden mentions, in the Ministry of Health pamphlet, 
Hostels for 'Difficult' Children, that out of four hundred and 
eighty-six cases, a quarter came from what seemed to be good 
homes, and adds : 

Recently I went into the cases of twenty-five boys who had all, 
except one, been convicted of stealing. Of these boys twenty-two 
came from homes where they lived with both parents and in eighteen 
cases they said their homes had been happy ones. . . . There are three 
urgent needs of all children and young people. The first is the feeling 
of being a valued member of the family; the second is the possession 
of their parents' affection and interest; and the third is happy occu- 
pation. 'Difficult' children do not come from homes where these 
three needs are supplied. (1945, pp. 8-10.) 

All this is now generally accepted and we simply have to remind 
ourselves here that all tyf>es of difficulty in childhood — material, 
economic, psychological and personal, but basically those that 
enter into the relationships of the parents with the child — serve to 
intensify the child's consciousness of his own smallness, weakness, 
helplessness, lack of self-confidence and fear of active venturing. 
He becomes a prey to feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, timidity 
and guilt, and is unable to develop a sense of joyous confidence in 


spontaneous activity as the years go by. Then, finding his feet in 
the big world outside the home, becoming able to accept his 
responsibilties in it and adjust to its standards becomes a frighten- 
ing task. As the child passes from the pre-moral level of purely 
infantile life to the moral level of more specifically co-operative 
social adjustment, he finds that the overcoming of infantile de- 
pendence is more than he can achieve by normal methods. Fair- 
bairn makes the important point that it is not the difficulties of the 
infantile period alone that account for psychoneurosis; it is rather 
the fact of being pushed back into them at deep emotional levels, 
when later childhood life proves to be simply a continuation of 
disturbances in the midst of which no stable and non-anxious 
personality can be developed. Deteriorating relationships with 
parents in the post-infancy years, involving not being understood, 
valued, helped, respected for his own sake, set up in the child an 
unconscious regression to, and revival of, infantile dependent 
modes of feeling. 

3. Active and Passive Aspects of Infantile Dependence 

Infantile dependence, however, as the foundation of personality 
disturbances in later life is not a simple thing. Nor is it the same 
thing as, or a mere residue of, the natural biological dependence 
of the infant, though it is related to it. It appears in two strikingly 
different forms, active and passive. According to Fairbaim, the 
two chief characteristics of infantile dependence are marked ten- 
dencies to emotional identification with, and, at the same time, 
oral incorporation of, the love-object, the breast and the breast- 
mother. Identification, in so far as it is a persistence of gradually 
diminishing primary identification, the feeHng of oneness with the 
mother in the womb, is a naturally passive characteristic. Oral 
incorporation, the infant's urge to take in from the breast, is an 
active characteristic. If all goes well, the first fades out more and 
more and the second develops into a dual capacity, not only to 
take in but also to give out, in the satisfied baby and growing child. 

As soon as frustration is met with, a very different state of 
affairs arises. Deprivation imparts an aggressive quality to un- 
satisfied needs, and oral incorporation turns into the impulse to 
sadistic devouring. We should qualify 'aggressive' more explicitly 
as 'angrily aggressive' for there is a 'playful aggressiveness' or 
'energetic assertiveness' which is natural and healthy. The infant 
comes to feel both dangerous to his love-objects and persecuted by 
them in retaliation. Thus active infantile dependence comes to be 
experienced in the form of intense, compulsive, but destructive 


and frightening needs towards love-objects which, if it breaks 
through into adult behaviour, takes the form of ruthless possessive- 
ness and exhausting demandingness, of the type seen in severe 
hysteria. In unconscious phantasy emerging in dreams this oral 
sadism gives rise to symbols of devouring wild animals and fills 
the psyche with terror. One patient had hallucinations of leopards 
leaping across the room with open bloody mouths. 

This state of affairs leads to a sharp reversal. The oral sadistic 
L.E. becomes afraid to exercise its infantile dependence in this 
destructive way. The intense anxiety generated puts a stop to that, 
and the sadism is drawn into the Anti-L.E. to be used for crushing 
and sabotaging the active hbidinal self with its needs. A passive 
infantile dependence arises which is very different from the 
original restful passivity impHed in primary identification. In- 
fantile dependence can now be exercised only in an enforcedly 
passive form. The infant has become afraid to be active. He un- 
consciously devotes his anger, not to the expression of his frustrated 
needs, but to their suppression, or at least to the inhibition of any 
active expression of them. He can now be only passively de- 
pendent, helpless, inhibited, clinging, suffering, the dependent 
masochist because of the terror he experiences over being in feel- 
ing and phantasy the dependent sadist. This type of dependence 
is even more strikingly exhibited by the hysteric. 

The serious emotional position has now arisen in which the 
growing person can be Hbidinal only in passive ways, and can 
be active only in aggressive ways. To cope with this problem in 
adjusting to everyday living in the outer world a third position has 
to be developed. While the L.E. is repressed in a passive maso- 
chistic state, and the Anti-L.E. is repressed in a sadistic state to 
use its aggression against the emergence of libidinal needs, the 
C.E. has to force a controlled activity on the basis of duty and 
service in order to meet the demands of the outer world. In the 
unconscious inner world the unremitting attack kept up by the 
sadistic Anti-L.E. upon the masochistic L.E. gives rise to the per- 
sonality tensions and physical and other symptoms that constantly 
disturb the outer adjustment which the C.E. struggles to main- 
tain. This is the basic hysteric and schizoid position which Fair- 
bairn regards as the fundamental endopsychic situation and the 
root of psychoneurosis. Genuine libidinal responsiveness to outer 
reality is lost. 

This complex pattern of a basic activity repressed because it is 
in a sadistic state, and transformed into a masochistic passivity 
which threatens to undermine energy and initiative, and which is 
hidden by a tense, forced, active, social self on a conscious level, 


reflects the threefold spUtting of the original ego, and must be 
correlated with the respective appropriate internal objects to give 
the full inner structural organization. The pattern has to be 
worked through in reverse in most analyses, in the attempt to 
undo it and restore the pristine self to freedom for spontaneous 
healthy living. 

The attack of the Anti-L.E. on the L.E. is illustrated in the 
following clinical material. A male patient, who carried heavy 
business responsibilities in everyday life to the accompaniment of 
considerable internal tension and conflict, dreamed that he had 
just had his glasses mended and then broke them again. In fact, 
these glasses were awaiting attention and he commented : *My 
sight has gone off a bit, I think, but it's as if I don't intend to see 
to it.' I pointed out that in the dream, where he had done so, he 
had spoiled the result for himself. He replied by saying, as he often 
did : 'If I can possibly do myself in I always find a way to do it. 
In fact I don't kick myself around, or others, as much now as I 
used to. I put off going to the dentist because I feel he'll have all 
my teeth out. I didn't realize I feared that.' I suggested that he 
turned everyone into potential persecutors like that, roping them 
all into the conspiracy to 'do him in'. He answered : 'Yes. It's to 
keep me in my place. "We'll have all your teeth out, that'll teach 
you. Now try to bite your mother's nipples." It's to make me 
impotent so that I can't attack anybody any more, it's to get me 
fixed.' His oral sadistic ego was to be put out of action. Naturally 
he suffered from periods of fatigue, longed above all to go to bed 
and stay there, and yet resisted sleep as frightening passivity which 
he could not get out of in the morning. During the night he would 
have to get up and have a meal, a protest of his persecuted L.E. 

As psycho-analytical therapy gradually leads to a diminution of 
the sadistic hostility of the Anti-L.E., and the patient comes slowly 
to be able to take up more of his analyst's permissive and friendly 
attitude to himself, the passive trends show signs of disappearing. 
But then anxiety comes to be felt about the release of the primarily 
active L.E., since at first the sadism that is released from the Anti- 
L.E. flows back into the L.E. where it originally belonged as an 
angry reaction to early deprivation. The patient quoted above 
said : 'There's no doubt that I'm coming alive, but I'm not liking 
the process, it's frightening.' A striking picture of this situation is 
supplied by the following dream of a male patient. 'I was in a 
house I lived in as a child and terrified of some unknown danger. 
I was going round locking all the doors and suddenly in the hall 
saw a large wicker-work cage with an enormous, furious leopard 
in it. It snarled at me and I felt it would gnaw through the cage in 


no time. Then you were with me and you said, "Let it out, it's not 
as dangerous as you think." Terrified, I let it out, and at once it 
became a very beautiful, strong, but friendly animal and was lick- 
ing my hands.' Fear of loss of control as a result of the release of 
the originally deprived L.E. is one of the more obvious sources of 
resistance to analysis. This patient had for years dreamt of wild 
animals raging in cages while he feared they would get out. 

This internal and unconscious situation is phantasied and felt 
and worked out over and over again at each developmental level 
after its oral origins. It can be discovered and analysed in anal, 
genital and Oedipal terms, and worked out by the patient in terms 
of object-relations in the present-day outer world. Thus, the 
patient who had the leopard dream opened his analysis with a 
run of homosexual dreams in which he was in the woman's posi- 
tion being raped or attacked by a sadistic male. In one of these 
dreams he lay on his back waiting while a man ran at him with a 
sword, but after a lengthy analysis of this material he suddenly 
produced one dream in which he was the sadistic male violently 
attacking a woman. Later on he had a most disturbing nightmare 
in which he was watching a male horse violently attacking a 
female horse and slashing it with a knife, while the female horse 
endured this torture passively and made no attempt to get away. 
This represented to him the primal scene between parents, and 
also his own sadistic phantasy of sexual assault on a mother-figure, 
and finally the constant attack going on in himself of his Anti- 
L.E. upon his L.E., out of which his painful conversion symptoms 
arose. But the analysis of this pattern on the genital level invari- 
ably opens up the same pattern on the primitive oral level. 

So heavily involved is 'passivity' in this pathological situation 
that the view of Ferenczi and Balint that the primary relation of 
the infant to the mother is passive dependent love compels us to 
distinguish this maisochistic passivity from the restful passivity of 
the primary identification of the infant with the mother in the 
womb. After birth the infant exercises very active needs towards 
the mother and is both 'taking' and 'receptive' but not merely 
passive. After birth, passivity is a term perhaps best reserved for 
the pathological state of inhibited sadistic activity. Ferenczi recog- 
nized earlier than any other analyst the importance of the primary 
mother-child relationship. Freud's theory and practice was notori- 
ously patemaHstic, Ferenczi's matemalistic. His concept of 
'primary object love' prepared the way for the later work of 
Melanie KJein, Fairbairn, Balint, Winnicott, and all others who 
to-day recognize that object-relations start at the beginning in the 
infant's needs for the mother. Ferenczi held that this primary 


object-love for the mother was passive, and in that form underlay 
all later development. 

Balint, in Primary Love and Psycho- Analytic Technique (1952) 
writes : 'Not only pregenital love, but also so-called post ambiva- 
lent genital love, originates in passive object-love' (p. 66). Zetzel 
observes that this implies a different technical approach to analyti- 
cal therapy. She says : 'Balint believes that the true aim of analysis 
cannot be achieved imless the patient is able to revert to a stage 
of primary passive love in the transference situation. This he de- 
scribes as "the new beginning".' (1955, p. 538.) The ainte-natal 
infant is primarily passive and 'vegetative'. The post-natal infant 
is rather 'active receptive' ; and there is a pathological 'passivity' 
resulting from the enforced suppression of sadistic libidinal needs. 
Balint, it seems, allows for a passive object-love between the intra- 
uterine passivity and post-natal active object-love. This perhaps 
does involve a new approach to therapy, though this is involved 
in any case in the recognition that object-relations begin with the 
mother-infant relation. That is the rationale of Ferenczi's 'mother- 
ing technique' in analysis which so disturbed Freud. It is the 
rationale of Winnicott's stress on 'therapeutic regression', and 
here also is the rationale of Fairbaim's object-relations point of 
view in both theory and therapy. 

4. The Characteristics of Pathological Dependence 

The extent to which infantile def>endent