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Modern Structural Theory

September 13, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm

|Recurring Event (See all)

An event every week that begins at 3:30 pm on Friday, repeating until November 22, 2019

Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2019-20, 1st Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm
Donald Schimmel, PhD
Babs Glover, MA LMHC

View Whole Syllabus


In the first part of this course, you will become conversant with key concepts and terminology derived from post-Freudian ego psychology as it was originally elaborated by Heinz Hartmann, Anna Freud and others.  For example, you will gain an understanding of what Hartmann referred to as the average expectable environment, autonomous ego functions, secondary autonomy, intersystemic and intrasystemic conflict, and the conflict-free sphere.  You will also become versed in the multitude of defense mechanisms (as enumerated by Anna Freud) that the ego utilizes to defend itself from forbidden id-wishes and impulses.  Moreover, you will become acquainted with ego psychology’s influence on psychoanalytic technique.  For instance, you will learn what Kurt Eissler meant by parameter and what should be done when the analyst deviates from classical technique.  Additionally, you will learn Leo Stone’s perspective on why the analyst deviates from classical technique as a developmental necessity for some patients.  Moreover, you will learn about Charles Brenner’s perspective on how the ego is in continuous inter and intrasystemic conflict, and how the ego’s conflict can lead to compromise formation.

In the second part of this course, you will become conversant with key concepts taken from American Object Relations Theory. We begin with chapters from Jay Greenberg and Stephen Mitchell’s seminal book, “Object Relations in Psychoanalytic Theory.”  In these chapters, you will acquire a working knowledge of two deeply divergent models of object relations theory: Freud’s drive model, in which object relations with others are determined by the individual’s need to satisfy primary instinctual drives, vs. a relational model in which interpersonal needs with real people, including the analyst, are considered as important if not more important than endogenously derived drives.  For example, to set the stage, you will read and discuss authors whose theories have drawn heavily from interpersonal psychoanalysis and studies involving infant observation.  Also, you will learn how Harry Stack Sullivan significantly influenced the shape and direction of American Object Relations Theory.  Specific key concepts that you will learn and become conversant with are self-system,dynamisms, personifications, Prototaxic, Parataxic and Syntactic experience, as well as Sullivan’s theory of anxiety.  Additionally, you will become knowledgeable about and conversant with W. Ronald D. Fairbairn’s object relations theory.  Fairbairn’s theory is considered to be a radical departure from Freud and ego psychology and is foundational to understanding contemporary relational theory.

In the third part of the course you will acquire an understanding of Joseph Sandler’s contributions to American Object Relations Theory. For example, you will learn to distinguish between such evocative concepts as introjection and identification; representation and image; self-representation and object-representations. You will also become knowledgeable about Sandler’s theory of how the ego constructs a representational worldfrom the original undifferentiated sensorium of the infant.  You will learn about Sandler’s theory of the importance of affect, e.g., safety as the central motivational force in the internal world of the infant, hence supplanting instinctual drives as primary indicator of behavior.  You will also be introduced to Sandler’s theory of role-responsiveness and how this concept is a precursor to today’s concept of countertransference-enactment.

In the final part of this course, you will become conversant with Hans Loewald’s theory of motivation and therapeutic action.  For example, you will learn what Loewald meant when he wrote that the analyst was a newobject for the patient.  In addition, you will acquire knowledge of how Otto Kernberg has developed a contemporary psychoanalytic theory of drives, integrating this theory with contemporary affect theory and with psychoanalytic object relations theory. Finally, you will become familiar with the views of Nancy Chodorow, who provides an example of current theorizing founded on some of the historical developments we will have studied this term.  For instance, you will learn what she means by intersubjective ego psychology.  These final two weeks of the term are intended to bring us to current applications of ego psychological thought and to set the stage for subsequent theory classes in Self and Relational and Intersubjective theories.

Please begin your reading for each week by reading through the corresponding week’s summaries below. This will help orient you to key points in the reading and the flow of the course overall.

September 13, 2019 — Overview of Ego Psychology and Anna Freud

Before beginning the first week’s reading, please read the overview of the course and the learning objectives for the course.

Wallerstein, R.S. (2002). The Growth and Transformation of American Ego Psychology. JAPA, 50(1):135-168. 

In this paper, Robert S. Wallerstein presents an historical overview of ego psychology and its transformation from a mostly structural and intrapsychic model to a set of modern theories that incorporate interpersonal and relational dimensions.  This is an important article as it outlines much of what we’ll be discussing in the bulk of this course.  While many of the names and concepts may be unfamiliar to you, they will be repeated and illustrated throughout the course.  Read it broadly as a preview of coming attractions or as a road map for the next several weeks, with a plan to understand it in greater depth as the course proceeds.   Begin to acquaint yourself with the development of ego psychological thinking and the streams of emerging psychoanalytic thought that Wallerstein describes as “cracks in the monolith” of ego psychology’s hegemony in America.

Freud, A. (1946). The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, International Universities Press, New York. Chapter 1, pp3-10.

Freud, A. (1946). The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense, International Universities Press, New York. Chapter 5, pp54-65. 

This is Anna Freud’s first major contribution to psychoanalytic theory.  Her book is considered by many to be the cornerstone of Ego Psychology.  Building on her father’s late-career work, she laid the foundations for the systematic study of defenses and their development with ego psychology.  Drawing on her direct observation of children and her experiences in child analysis, Anna Freud places defense, and the experience of danger, within a developmental context.  She sets out a general theory of technique and defense analysis.  Attention is focused on recognizing and interpreting the various ways in which the patient’s ego defends itself against forbidden wishes.

Optional Reading

We will not be discussing this article in class, but the term and the concept of Developmental Lines is one you will likely encounter again later in training.


September 13, 2019
3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
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(206) 328-5315
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4020 E Madison St, #230
Seattle, WA 98112
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(206) 328-5315
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