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Modern Structural Theory
October 4, 2019 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
An event every week that begins at 3:30 pm on Friday, repeating until November 22, 2019
Second Year Adult Psychoanalytic Training (APT)
2019-20, 1st Trimester — Fridays, 3:30-5:00pm
Donald Schimmel, PhD
Babs Glover, MA LMHC
Modern Conflict Theory/Modern Structural Theory
There are two major strains in modern structural theory, the “heir” of ego psychology: one is Charles Brenner; the other is the close process resistance analysis developed by Paul Gray and Fred Busch (whom you read last year). In this seminar we have chosen to focus on Brenner and provide Gray’s most important article as optional reading.
Brenner, C. (1994). The Mind as Conflict and Compromise Formation. JCP, 3(4):473-488.
Brenner, C. (2002). Conflict, Compromise Formation, and Structural Theory. PAQ, 71(3):397-417.
Charles Brenner offered a radical revision of ego psychology, and was a central figure in modern conflict theory and compromise formation. Brenner was known for his attempts to strip away unnecessary and anachronistic accretions of meanings in our terms and theories. He moved away from Hartmann’s ideas about autonomous ego functions and the conflict-free sphere; as he developed his approach to affects and conflict resolution he came to his conviction that the concept of compromise formation was superior to the structural theory. Brenner ultimately argued that we should abandon the tripartite theory and its concepts of id, ego and superego because these terms erroneously separate and disconnect the components of conflict in the mind. His stance was that all of mental life is based in conflict.
Paul Gray represents what might be described as a model of classical ego psychology. Since a patient’s resistance provides a map of the ego’s defensive strategies, the analysis of resistance was central to the ego psychological approach. Paul Gray argued that there was a developmental lag in technique that resulted from ignoring Anna Freud’s emphasis on defense analysis, and introduced the powerful development in the technique of ego psychology known as close process monitoring and later close process attention, which prescribes careful attention to the defensive aspects of the transference. Gray recommends staying attuned to the surface of any analytic hour, providing experience-near material and enlarging the focus on consciousness and ego, and the patient’s awareness of how their mind was functioning.