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교재Chodorow, N.J. (2004). The American Independent Tradition. Psychoanal. Dial., 14(2):207-232

 


The American Independent Tradition:

Loewald, Erikson, and the (Possible) Rise of Intersubjective Ego Psychology


1.      Abstract

1.1.    This paper has both theoretical and historico-cultural dimensions.

1.1.1.  Theoretically, it describes the origins of an “American Independent Tradition,” intersubjective ego psychology, in the work of Loewald and Erikson.

1.2.    The work of Loewald and Erikson incorporated and synthesized elements from the two dominant and antagonistic schools—Hartmannian ego psychology and Sullivanian interpersonal psychoanalysis—that constituted classical American psychoanalysis. 

1.3.    Intersubjective ego psychology, exemplified in the work of these two founding thinkers and others who follow them, remains firmly committed to ego psychological understandings and technique while also theorizing, without thereby coming to identify as either interpersonal or relational, the centrality and pervasive impact of the object-relational, developmental, and analytic transference-countertransference fields.

1.4.    As a historicocultural study, the paper explores what makes American psychoanalysis American, though it also suggests that defining, other than descriptively, what is characteristically American is itself problematic and can be done only with self-conscious irony.

1.5.    It also provides a historical overview of psychoanalytic controversies in the United States, and it considers schematically the relations between “American” and “European” psychoanalysis.

 

2.      What is American about American psychoanalysis?

2.1.    Mitchell and Harris suggest that “national character and sensibility, environment and place, political and social history must have a deep and pervasive impact on the ways in which psychoanalysis has developed in different countries.”

2.2.    Such an observation moves us right to the heart of the matter, expressing an assumption that national character and sensibility are among those subjects we can talk and write about.

2.2.1.  That assumption is grounded in the work of the uniquely American, psychoanalytically influenced culture and personality anthropology founded by Kardiner, Mead, Benedict, Sapir, and others.

2.2.2.  This tradition, in turn, directly shaped and was intertwined with the only homegrown American psychoanalytic tradition—the interpersonal or cultural approach initiated by Sullivan, Thompson, Horney, and Fromm.

2.2.3.  At the same time, Mitchell and Harriss invitation requires us to characterize theoretically and describe the history of the psychoanalyses that happen to have developed on American soil and to see these developments in the light of the larger history and culture of the country.

2.3.    I find myself diffident before these challenges.

2.3.1.  In what follows, mindful that no one characterization can be comprehensive, I elaborate one historical and theoretical reading of American psychoanalysis.

2.3.2.  I center my theoretical investigation on the contributions of Hans Loewald and Erik Erikson.

2.3.3.  I also suggest some ways in which American psychoanalysis is distinctly American, that much of what characterizes American psychoanalysis reflects what we (and our European critics, perhaps the most severe of whom was Freud) might consider national patterns.

2.3.4.  Both within anthropology and in contemporary multicultural studies, we have learned that generalizations about cultural or national character obscure as much as they illuminate and that this obscuring has often been at the political and cultural expense of marginalized groups and at the empirical cost of psychological individuality.

2.4.    At the same time, however, generalizations about national or cultural (similarly, gendered, ethnic, etc.) characteristics always do seem to have a grain of truth—recognizable patterns that apply widely, even as we also see exceptions and variation.

3.      Intersubjective ego psychology

3.1.    I focus on the origins of and try to articulate a strand in American thinking that I call, provisionally, intersubjective ego psychology.

3.2.    Intersubjective ego psychology integrates the two theoretical and clinical developments that have indisputably characterized American psychoanalysis: first, classical ego psychology, and second, interpersonal (its current label, but in the past it was also called “cultural school” and “Neo-Freudian”) psychoanalysis.

3.3.    I see intersubjective ego psychology as a sort of middle terrain between, on the one hand, classical structural and contemporary ego psychology and, on the other, classical interpersonal and contemporary relational psychoanalysis.

3.4.    Spezzano (1995, 1997) has also named an “American Middle School,” which he sees as integrating British object relations and neo-Kleinian theory, American interpersonal psychoanalysis, and contemporary affect and motivational theory.

3.4.1.  Although our perspectives overlap to some extent, my impression is that his designation comes from his seeing the particular combination that he is describing as akin theoretically and clinically to the British Middle Group, and as especially characterized by its exclusion of classical American ego psychology in favor of a relational perspective on mind; whereas it is the betweenness within two American traditions and the preservation of each, very much including ego psychology, that I am stressing.

3.5.    Intersubjective ego psychology involves an apparently contradictory insistence, following the Hartmann-Anna Freud legacy, on a radical “one-person” intrapsychic perspective centered on fantasy, drive-derivative wishes, resistances, defenses, and compromise formations, and in consonance with the work of Sullivan, Horney, Thompson, Fromm-Reichman, and others, on the “two-person” importance of the analytic, the mother-child, and, by extension sometimes, the sociocultural field.

3.6.    Intersubjective ego psychologists use the ego psychological language of interpretation, individuality, autonomy, and insight, analytic neutrality, and other similar concepts, and also the language of enactment, transference-countertransference, the contribution of the analysts mind and subjectivity, and other similar concepts that arose initially from interpersonal psychoanalysis.

3.7.    Although advocacy of an analytic attitude of uncertainty and curiosity rather than certainty and authority has crossed all psychoanalytic schools in recent years, I think it can be said that the founding intersubjective ego psychologists, like the founding British Independents, found their way to this attitude sooner.

3.8.    Although the label intersubjective ego psychology comes more from my reading of contemporary thinkers (particularly Boesky, Chused, Jacobs, McLaughlin, Poland, and Renik), I center my remarks on the two earlier thinkers who initially created the hybrid and defined the territory, Hans Loewald and Erik Erikson.

3.9.    The perspective that I now call intersubjective ego psychology, then, brought together my own history and clinical and theoretical projects and also seemed to bring together those found in the vicissitudes of American psychoanalysis.

4.      History of American psychoanalysis

4.1.    The American identification with ego psychology, beginning shortly after World War II, has been repeatedly pointed out and, by now, repetitiously attacked.

4.1.1.  American psychoanalysis, linked to Anna Freud in London and fueled by the arrival of many of Sigmund and Anna Freuds colleagues and students, including the other great classical theorist of ego psychology, Heinz Hartmann, became a bastion of ego psychology.

4.1.2.  Following the arrival of the ego psychologists in the late 1930s and early 1940s, internal purges within the United States, beginning with Horneys expulsion from the New York Psychoanalytic Institute, ensured ego psychologys triumph and the marginalization of the homegrown interpersonal-cultural school.

4.2.    Just as in the political world, a sort of cold war period in psychoanalysis ensued from the late 1940s through the 1970s.

4.2.1.  From the Kleinian ranks in England, by way of the ongoing fight with Anna Freud, came attacks on the American belief in interpreting ego defenses and resistances from the surface rather than directly interpreting unconscious fantasies that expressed id and punitive superego drives and affects (disagreement about the reality and utility of the death instinct played a part here as well).

4.2.2.  From across the channel in France came a preference, still characteristic of French psychoanalysis, for the first topography over the structural theory, wherein the division between unconscious and conscious mentation is primary, the Ucs. is still seen as an entity, and there is a more direct focus on psychosexual drives and experience than on ego activities and resistances.

4.2.3.  On native ground, American psychoanalysis had an equivalent cold-war fervor against unorthodoxy.

4.2.3.1.  American analysts argued technically, as accused (by the Kleinians, in the British cold war between them and the followers of Anna Freud), that interpretation needed to proceed from the surface, from where the patient preconsciously lives.

4.2.3.2.  Arguing against the interpersonalists, they elaborated theoretically through the structural theory Freuds claim that all psychic expressions are intersystemic compromise formations that arise as a result of past intrapsychic development.

4.2.3.3.  The internal purges of interpersonal and cultural school thinkers begun during World War II kept potential American dissidents in line.

4.2.3.4.  Against the Kleinians and the French, Americans held fast to the structural theory and to ego-psychological technique.

4.3.    This cold-war period, based on a purge of interpersonalists and an orthodox fostering of ego psychology and structural theory-based practice, is now apparently over, as classical and relational-interpersonal Americans meet each other in organizations and on panels and as the mid-Atlantic Iron Curtain seems to have rusted and dissolved in the ocean.

4.4.    Although the psychoanalytic cold war is largely over, however, it has had lasting effects.

4.4.1.  After Horney and Sullivan, and until the great flowering of American relational psychoanalysis beginning in the 1980s, there were few major innovative thinkers in interpersonal psychoanalysis.

4.4.2.  The field sustained itself to a large extent by its distance from and its critique of ego psychology.

4.4.3.  With the exception of Sullivan, in fact, the major immediate forebears of the relational perspective, like Erikson, Loewald, and Kohut, came, ironically, from within the ranks of the classical institutes, as well as from British object-relations theorists.

4.4.3.1.  Mitchell (2000) describes this lineage well. Among the theoretical forebears of relational psychoanalysis, he singles out, in addition to Sullivan, Loewald, Bowlby, and Fairbairn.

4.4.4.  At the same time, these relational forebears (certainly Erikson and Loewald, though probably not as much Kohut, who, although part of a classical American institute, saw his self psychology as a direct critique of ego psychology) carried on and located themselves firmly in the ego-psychological tradition.

4.4.5.  They did not want—as some relational and interpersonal thinkers seem to hope that they wanted—to throw out, with what is to some relationists the dogmatic, polarizing, rigidly defined one-person ego-psychological bathwater, the baby of Hartmanns undifferentiated ego-id matrix (which Loewald drew on to develop an entire theory of psychic growth and regression in terms of differentiation and dedifferentiation).

4.4.6.  They held on to Anna Freuds ego defenses (made central in Eriksons writings) and to a classical psychosexual developmental perspective that allows for innate unfolding as well as a field in which this innate unfolding takes place (both Erikson and Loewald hold to some version of the traditional psychosexual drive theory).

4.4.7.  They continued to problematize ego and reality (this Freudian and Hartmannian theme is central to both Eriksons and Loewalds thinking) and to attend to conflict-free ego functioning and its impediments.

4.4.8.  They assumed the intensity, uniqueness, and contingency, as these are created from within and partially dependent on innate biopsychological givens, not as it is mainly created and experienced in relationship, of one persons psychic functioning.

4.4.9.  Accordingly, their two-person vision of the analytic encounter is of the interaction between two individual psychologies, in which transference and countertransference come mainly from the unconscious and from the past of each participant.

4.4.10.     Unlike contemporary American relationalists (and perhaps Winnicott among Middle Group thinkers), they are not, predominantly, more than the sum of the parts (potential space, analytic third, cocreation) two-person analysts.

4.5.    Ego psychology has been profoundly characteristic of American psychoanalysis and must then be (we might as culture and personality theorists speculate) characteristically American.

4.5.1.  With its one-person psychology, a metapsychology always focused on intrapsychic conflict and life and a preference for thinking that we create our psyches from within rather than primarily in relationship, ego psychology reflects American individualism.

4.5.2.  A view in which reality exists only as it is created by the ego is a radically individualist view, and we find such a one-person subjectivism most fully in Loewald.

5.      Ego-centered, one-person view of the psyche

5.1.    Loewald (1951) advances the view that there is originally no ego and reality, no ego and object, no inner and outer.

5.1.1.  Ego and reality are created at the same time, differentiated out of an undifferentiated matrix (here Loewald extends Hartmann).

5.1.2.  Loewald does not hold the view, he tells us, that objects and reality do not exist if we do not experience them, but as a psychoanalyst, he is concerned “with the question of how this world becomes psychologically constituted”.

5.1.3.  Whereas, for Klein and Fairbairn, a differentiated ego and object exist from birth, and for Hartmann, following Freud, reality is an external reality to which the ego needs to adapt (thereby generating its differentiation out of the ego-id matrix), Loewald concerns himself with how these are created in the first place.

5.1.4.  Only after “primary internalization” and “primary externalization”—the creation of internal and external—can it be meaningful to speak of projection and introjection, of libido or aggression directed toward the ego or toward objects, or of a reality principle that represents the requirements of reality (Loewald, 1962).

5.1.5.  The initial creation of ego and reality sets off a lifelong process of fluid interchanges and meaning creation, as inner and outer reality are continually reconstituted through projective and introjective fantasies.

5.1.6.  Loewald redefines illness and health in this process: in severe illness, as the ego regresses and disintegrates, object and reality dedifferentiate and disintegrate as well; in health, “people shift considerably, from day to day, at different periods in their lives, in different moods and situations, from one such level to other levels.

5.1.6.1.  In fact, it would seem that the more alive people are (though not necessarily the more stable), the broader their range of ego-reality levels” (p. 20).

5.2.    A distinctly ego-centered, one-person view of the psyche emphasizes individual psychic experience in all its depth and range.

5.2.1.  We find such a view in Loewalds (1960) visions “of the intensity of the unconscious, of the infantile ways of experiencing life that have no language and little organization, but the indestructibility and power of the origins of life” (p. 250) and in his claims that “our present, current experiences have intensity and depth to the extent to which they are in communication… with the unconscious, infantile, experiences representing the indestructible matrix of all subsequent experiences” (p. 251).

5.2.2.  In his view of transference, Loewald emphasizes the intrapsychic transfer from unconscious to conscious over that from ego or libido to objects.

5.2.3.  And he emphasizes individuation and separateness in his advocacy of oedipal individuation and atonement and in his later reflections on religious experience and the experience of eternity (Loewald, 1978c, 1979).

5.3.    We can also see a one-person individuation in the trajectory of Eriksons developmental theory, moving from basic trust found in the mother-child matrix to the absolute responsibility for and recognition of the lone self found in the stage of ego integrity.

5.3.1.  Erikson, who moved out of the center of exclusively psychoanalytic debates in midcareer, is not so much involved in questions of how to characterize transference-countertransference or the analytic field.

6.      Countertransference

6.1.    A recognition that an individual creates her or his own psychic life characterizes ego psychology, and this same emphasis on the individual also generates American independent approaches toward countertransference.

6.2.    Ego psychologists were originally among those most critical of countertransference; they advocated the neutral, scientifically objective analytic stance.

6.2.1.  Following Freud, they were most likely to see countertransference as a mark of pathology or insufficient analysis, in contrast to those interpersonal psychoanalysts and Kleinians who first came to valorize the countertransference.

6.3.    Recently American psychoanalysis has been much more cognizant of the role of countertransference, and certainly, within intersubjective ego psychology, the recognition of countertransference and countertransference enactments links these theorists to their British and relational colleagues.

6.3.1.  But there remains, I think, a legacy from the American ego-psychological heritage and the analyst-centered Freudian perspective on countertransference that makes for a difference in emphasis from the British perspective (as well as from the relational perspective, influenced as it is by both British and interpersonal traditions).

6.4.    Thus, contemporary intersubjective ego psychologists, for example, Boesky, Chused, Jacobs, and Renik, along with the more relational Hoffman (as well as those mainstream contemporary American psychoanalysts who also now describe countertransference and countertransference enactments), focus on the analysts subjectivity as well as that of the patient.

6.4.1.  All these commentators describe the analysts countertransference, or, more generally, the analysts feelings.

6.4.2.  But, even when these are thought to be elicited by what the patient is saying or doing or what is going on between patient and analyst, they are described as expressing and drawing on the analysts own emotions, history, and personality, rather than as being primarily the result of projective identification.

6.4.3.  Such a view of countertransference, as arising more from within the analyst than mainly from the patient or as a cocreation, also leads, among intersubjective ego psychologists, to a characteristically American, perhaps individualist, emphasis on the analytic relationship as that between two people, each of whose subjectivity contributes to the relationship. 

6.4.4.  Loewald (1986) says, “If a capacity for transference … is a measure of the patients analyzability, the capacity for countertransference is a measure of the analysts ability to analyze” (p. 286).

6.5.    An emphasis on the analysts subjectivity—on the analyst as a person with emotions, a history, and idiosyncratic reactions, as well as with training in how to understand a patients communications—also leads to a particular technical stance, a perspective that emphasizes the analysts not knowing rather than knowing.

6.5.1.  In this view, pioneered by American interpersonalists like Sullivan and adapted, in the intersubjective part of their identity, by Loewald and Erikson, the analyst and patient together are working to understand and help the patient rather than the analysts being the expert on the patients psyche.

6.5.1.1.  What the analyst has, along with her subjectivity, is training (in an art, and not just a science [Loewald, 1975]) and what the patient has is a privileged insider view of her own experience.

6.5.2.  Such a position is now widely shared across the analytic spectrum, but it is in distinct contrast to the classical Kleinian and classical ego-psychological positions, in which the analysts subjectivity was a hindrance and the analyst seemed to have not only training but also, based on his theoretical understanding, a better view than the patient of the patients psychic world.

6.5.3.  As charactistically American, it may also have other typically American characteristics—our historically ideological commitment to equality rather than hierarchy, for example, as well as our pragmatism and the commitment to empiricism that has been challenged by some European colleagues.

7.      Therapeutic Relationship

7.1.    Apparent contradiction

7.1.1.  I am in the terrain of the relationship between patient and analyst, and this takes me to the other, apparently contradictory, side of what is American about American psychoanalysis.

7.1.2.   Just as it was a center of a Viennese-inspired, classical one-person ego psychology, so the United States, as I note earlier, has always been an analytic world that emphasizes the analytic dyad and the interpersonal/cultural.

7.1.3.  The 1930s and 1940s witnessed the development of the interpersonal and cultural schools and the rise of culture and personality anthropology, and both Erikson and Loewald were influenced by these developments: Erikson collaborated with anthropologists in the field during the 1930s and was continuously interested in and identified with the work of culture and personality, and Loewald received his psychoanalytic training at the Baltimore-Washington Institute, which was a Sullivanian center.

7.2.    Dual emphasis

7.2.1.  We are not surprised, then, to find a similar dual emphasis in the original intersubjective ego psychologists, Erikson and Loewald.

7.2.2.  While they portray inner vitality and character, internal life and conflict, ego defenses and the egos creation of its own reality, they also emphasize the role of others in the creation and experience of self.

7.2.3.  Just as it was a center of a Viennese-inspired, classical one-person ego psychology, so the United States, as I note earlier, has always been an analytic world that emphasizes the analytic dyad and the interpersonal/cultural.

8.      Erikson

8.1.    Erikson was, in intellectual and popular culture generally, certainly the most widely influential American psychoanalyst of the 20th century, but for a number of reasons, he is almost not acknowledged to have been a psychoanalyst at all. 

8.2.    He may in general have become too much of a public intellectual and commentator for the tastes of mid-1950s psychoanalytic orthodoxy.

8.3.    One branch of American psychoanalysis, founded by Sullivan, has emphasized that we are born and live within a social-cultural-interpersonal field, and it is of course Eriksons (1959) contribution to our understanding of the ways, as he puts it, that “history and culture assume decisive concreteness in individual development” (p. 18) or “appear in specific transferences and resistances” (p. 29) that make Erikson exemplary of this American concern.

8.4.    Yet Erikson remains a hybrid.

8.4.1.  His conception of the intersubjective-cultural field argues that all psychological experience is filtered through the interaction of soma, developmental pattern, and society, and most of his writings are cultural and historical.

8.4.2.  But, although he, more than any other analyst, looks with evenly hovering attention at psyche, culture, and society and their interactions, he self-identified as an ego psychologist during the period of the psychoanalytic cold war.

8.5.    Eriksons intersubjective ego psychology makes foundational the mother-child relational matrix, especially in the constitution of his first stage, basic trust versus mistrust.

8.5.1.  An interpersonal field reappears in his definition of identity, which he defines as more than a sum of identifications but, rather, a centeredness that at the same time requires confirmation by another.

8.5.2.  Erikson takes his dual approach much further, however. 

8.5.2.1.  Psychoanalysis had always concerned itself with gender as a central element in psychic life, but it is really Erikson who first made ethnicity central as well.

8.5.2.2.  Long before American culture and politics became focused on identity, Erikson was obsessed with it, especially with the particulars of racial-ethnic-cultural identities, spoiled and outcast identities, and identity fragments that must, somehow, be cemented into a psychologically working whole.

9.      Loewald

9.1.    Loewalds view of the developmental field, identity, and the interpersonal matrix does not have the same wide sweep into culture and history as Eriksons, but he is more attentive to the intersubjectivity of the analytic encounter.

9.1.1.   Loewald is a subjectivist who believes that reality exists only to the extent that it is psychically created; but he is equally an object-relations theorist, who argues that ego and object, drives, and the division of primary and secondary process, all differentiate from a primary global unity, a unity that is the mother-child matrix.

9.1.2.  His subjectivism thus meets an equally stressed intersubjectivism.

9.1.3.  Developmentally, mother-child “relatedness is the psychic matrix out of which intrapsychic instincts and ego, and extrapsychic object, differentiate”, and even the drives, libido, and aggression, rather than being inborn energic charges, evolve out of the mother-child field: “instincts … are to be seen as relational phenomena from the beginning and not as autochthonous forces seeking discharge”.

9.2.    Loewald brings his dual ego-psychological and object-relational perspectives—his relational view of development, his understanding of transference and conscious-unconscious interchanges in creating meaning and aliveness, and his goal of flexible ego-reality differentiation—to the role of the analyst and his conception of the analytic encounter.

9.2.1.  In the preface to his Papers on Psychoanalysis, he claims: “In psychoanalysis it becomes increasingly clear that interactional processes—those that are intra-psychic and inter-psychic ones, and these two in their interactions—are the material of investigation, epitomized and highlighted in the psychoanalytic process”.

9.2.2.  Similarly, he opens “On the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis” with a fusion of the two perspectives: “If ‘structural changes in the patients personality’ means anything, it must mean that we assume that ego development is resumed in the therapeutic process in psychoanalysis. And this resumption of ego development is contingent on the relationship with a new object, the analyst. The nature and the effects of this new relationship are under discussion” (Loewald, p. 221).

9.2.3.  Loewald also argues for a relational, as against a subject-object natural science observational model of objectivity, but it is nonetheless a stance that folds back into a one-person view.

9.2.3.1.  Analysis, he says, “requires an objectivity and neutrality the essence of which is love and respect for the individual and for individual development” (p. 229).

9.3.    In Loewalds well-known formulation, the analyst operates just on the edge of the patients readiness for insight.

9.3.1.  Analysis takes place in an analytic field in which the analyst, like the mother, acts as a “mediating environment”, but Loewald (being a one-person as well as two-person analyst) also keeps in view that this field is composed of two separate individuals with two separate existences and two separate roles: “The analyst in his interpretations reorganizes, reintegrates unconscious material for himself as well as for the patient, since he has to be attuned to the patients unconscious, using, as we say, his own unconscious as a tool, in order to arrive at the organizing interpretation”.

9.3.2.  (Footnote) Loewalds duality can evoke different readings. At a conference on Loewald several years ago, using almost the same quotes and sources, I argued that Loewald was primarily a radically subjectivist ego psychologist, with some object-relational leanings, and Steve Mitchell argued that he was primarily an object-relations theorist with some leftover ego psychology.

9.4.    Loewald has been taken to task by some American critics for holding an inegalitarian view that privileges the analysts perspective, but he is very specific about the nature and constitution of analytic authority and its eventual fate (we might even hope that the analyst would be able to help the patient to integrate and organize).

9.4.1.  At first, “the analyst functions as a representative of a higher stage of organization and mediates this to the patient, insofar as the analysts understanding is attuned to what is, and the way in which it is, in need of organization”’

9.4.2.  But analysis has egalitarian goals that require the gradual decrease of this initial distance, and patient and analyst are in it together: “the therapeutic effect appears to have something to do with the requirement, in analysis, that the subject, the patient himself, gradually become an associate, as it were, in the research work”.

10.   Tension and reconciliation

10.1. Intersubjective ego psychology, first enunciated in the writings of Hans Loewald and Erik Erikson, holds in tension and reconciles two contradictory psychoanalytic approaches—ego psychology and interpersonal psychoanalysis, established by founding American theorists Hartmann and Sullivan—that have characterized the theory, clinical practice, and politics of American psychoanalysis since the 1930s.

10.2. One tendency began firmly committed to a one-person perspective on the mind, to a focus on intrapsychic conflict, compromise formation, an internal world and intrapsychic fantasy.

10.2.1.     It stressed that transference was brought from the patients past and unconscious to his present and conscious and that the analyst was the interpreter of the patients experience.

10.2.2.     As the analysts participation entered the picture, it was mainly as an interpreter of transference and resistance or through a countertransference that came from the analysts own unconscious and own past.

10.3. The other tendency started from an interpersonally and culturally created psyche in which the patient was also firmly situated in his sociocultural and familial surround.

10.3.1.     It began with a focus on what goes on between patient and analyst and a belief that not everything comes from the patient.

10.3.2.     It led also to a view that the patient may also be the interpreter of the analysts experience or affect the analysts countertransference.

10.3.3.     This cocreated analytic field was, in some sense, more than the sum of the two-person parts.

10.4. Intersubjective ego psychologists hold both perspectives at the same time and thereby modify each.

11.   Conclusion

11.1. American pragmatism and optimism

11.1.1.     We find ourselves face-to-face with our critics, who have accused American psychoanalysis of optimism and pragmatic curative goals and of abandoning the unconscious.

11.1.2.     (Footnote) Along with optimism, pragmatism, and ignoring the unconscious, critics have sometimes also accused American psychoanalysis of “empiricism” (this critique is more broadly a continental European critique of Anglo-American thinking in general).

11.1.3.     American psychoanalysis tends to have an optimistic edge and to be unabashed in its interest in cure and the mitigation of suffering (Mitchell, 2001, and Goldberg, 2002, point to American pragmatism).

11.1.4.     Loewald and Erikson can be seen as early representatives of this undefensively pragmatic and optimistic trend.

11.2. Loewald’s contributions

11.2.1.     Loewald is unapologetic about spelling out visions of oscillation between different levels of integration of ego and reality and living both on the oedipal level of individuation and morality and at the level of the “psychotic core” of fusion and symbiosis.

11.2.2.     He dares to use the term psychic health: “psychic health has to do with an optimal, although by no means necessarily conscious, communication between unconscious and preconscious, between the infantile, archaic stages and structures of the psychic apparatus and its later stages and structures of organization. And further, that the unconscious is capable of change” (Loewald1960, p. 254).

11.2.3.     His vision of the integration of transference, fantasy, and reality can at times exhibit almost a sentimental sense of the wonder of human existence:

To make the unconscious conscious, is one-sided. It is the transference between them that makes a human life, that makes a life human.… I shall try to develop the thesis that the concept of transference opened up the historical dimension of mans love life while at the same time disclosing the erotic dimension of his individuation and historicity, of his becoming what may properly be called a self. The concept of transference provides a scientific approach to the phenomenon of love [Loewald, 1978c, pp. 31-32].

11.3. Erikson’s contributions

11.3.1.     Eriksons clinical writings, similarly, are filled with a buoyant therapeutic enthusiasm, his eight stages of man—especially in his later works, when they are tied to what he calls virtues—indicating an image of human fulfillment through the life cycle; his immigrant enthusiasm for America is often embarrassing.

11.4. Unconscious

11.4.1.     Americans are also accused by some of our European colleagues of abandoning the unconscious.

11.4.2.     But the unconscious arrived early and never left American psychoanalytic shores.

11.4.3.     It is more from the egopsychological than the interpersonal lineage that we draw American interest in the unconscious, including the drives.

11.4.4.     In ego psychology, we find attention to unconscious fantasy and to drive derivatives that have been distorted or repressed, and, following the structural model, the view that all aspects of the psyche operate unconsciously, including the id-ego-superego interactions that produce compromise formations.

11.4.5.     We find a portrayal of the unconscious in Loewalds powerful argument for the meaning, depth, and intensity of experience that come from the integration of conscious and unconscious through fantasy and transference and from his understanding of the integration of primary-process affective density with secondary-process language that take us to the deepest wellsprings of human existence.

11.4.6.     In Loewald and the intersubjective ego psychologists who follow him, we find equal concern with the analysts unconscious and its effects on the clinical process; and we find the unconscious in Eriksons ego-psychological attention to anxieties and defenses and his elaborately and empathetically described processes of symptom formation in children.

11.4.7.     Throughout Loewald and Erikson, without their making special claims, we find a taken-for-granted assumption that the drives—libido and aggression—are forces in unconscious and conscious life.

11.4.7.1.           The drives may gain shape and direction in development and interaction, but they are never thought to be simply reactions to interactional experience or frustration.

11.4.7.2.           It is precisely because psychoanalysis begins from a recognition of the unique subjectivity created in each individual by unconscious affects, drives, fantasies, conflicts, compromise formations, and a personal dynamic history, along with a recognition that two subjects bring their uniqueness to the transference- countertransference analytic field, that they also create, in a particular cultural and analytic environment, that intersubjective ego psychology—the American fusion of ego psychology and relational psychoanalysis—continues to grow.

 

 
 
 
 
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