Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Fred Pine - Working with Four Psychologies

The concepts which Dr. Pine outlines in this paper were developed into a book - Drive, Ego, Object and Self: A Synthesis for Clinical Work (1990, Basic Books):

"Psychoanalysis has produced what I shall refer to as "four psychologies"—the psychologies of drive, ego, object relations, and self. Each takes a somewhat different perspective on human psychological functioning, emphasizing somewhat different phenomena. While the four certainly overlap, each adds something new to our theoretical understanding, and each has significant relevance in the clinical situation. My aim in this paper is to highlight that relevance. Earlier (Pine, 1985) I attempted to give a developmental integration of the four psychologies, a picture of how each may find its place in the psychology of the individual during the course of development....

From the standpoint of the psychology of drive, the individual is seen in terms of the vicissitudes of, and struggles with, lasting urges, forged in the crucible of early bodily and family experience, and taking shape as wishes that are embodied in actions and in conscious and unconscious fantasies. Because many of these wishes come to be experienced as unacceptable and dangerous, psychic life is seen as organized around conflict and its resolution—signified by anxiety, guilt, aspects of shame, inhibition, symptom formation, and pathological character traits. In Freud's original work, the theoretical underpinnings of these ideas lay in views of instinctual drive and epigenetically unfolding psychosexual stages. But at the experiential level of human functioning, the focus is on wish and urge, defense against them, and conflict (cf. Holt, 1976); (Klein, 1976).

From the standpoint of the psychology of the ego, the individual is seen in terms of capacities for adaptation, reality testing, and defense, and their use in the clinical situation and in life at large to deal with the inner world of urges, affects, and fantasies, and the outer world of reality demands. Developmentally, the capacities for adaptation, reality testing, and defense are seen as slowly attained and expanding over time. While historically the major ego concepts developed as an outgrowth of drive-conflict psychology and remain intimately tied to it via conceptions of defense against drive, Hartmann's work (1939) introduced a significant emphasis on adaptation to the average expectable environment, as well. A developmental conception of ego functioning allows also for significant emphasis on a concept of "ego defect." That is, since adults (and older children) have capacities for adaptation, reality testing, and defense that infants do not have, we have to assume that these developed in between. Anything that develops can develop poorly or in aberrant ways; developmental failures in the domain of adaptive capacities can be viewed as "ego defects," e.g., affect intolerance and flooding, unreliable delay and control over impulses, failure to obtain object constancy. Such "defects" are not unrelated to conflict; conflict may have been contributory to their going wrong developmentally, and they will in any case enter into the individual's fantasy life and self-experience, and hence become elements in conflict and take on multiple functions (Waelder, 1930). But I believe they can also usefully (from a working clinical standpoint) be seen as defects — adaptational incapacities or faulted capacities.

From the standpoint of the psychology of object relations, the individual is seen in terms of an internal drama, derived from early childhood, that is carried around within as memory (conscious or unconscious) and in which the individual enacts one or more or all of the roles (Sandler & Rosenblatt, 1962). These internal images, loosely based on childhood experiences, also put their stamp on new experience, so that these in turn are assimilated to the old dramas rather than experienced fully in their contemporary form. These internal dramas are understood to be formed out of experiences with the primary objects of childhood, but are not seen as veridical representations of those relationships. The object relation as experienced by the child is what is laid down in memory and repeated, and this experience is a function of the affect and wishes active in the child at the moment of the experience. Thus, illustratively and hypothetically, the "same" quietly pensive and inactive mother will be experienced as a depriver by the hungry child, but perhaps as comfortingly "in tune" by the child who is itself contentedly playing alone. Significant for the clinical relevance of object-relations psychology is the tendency to repeat these old family dramas, a repetition propelled by efforts after attachment or after mastery or both.

From the standpoint of the psychology of self-experience, the individual is seen in terms of the ongoing subjective state, particularly around issues of boundaries, continuity, and esteem, and his or her reactions to imbalances in that subjective state (Sandler, 1960). I deliberately refer to "self-experience" rather than "the self" not only to bypass problems of conceptualization and reification regarding "the self," but also to remain at the level of subjective experience. But notably, the domain of "self" in the current literature is organized not only around subjective state per se, but around particular features of that subjective state. Thus, degree of differentiation of self from other has a central place, and here I refer to the sense of separateness, of boundaries (Mahler, Pine & Bergman, 1975); (Pine, 1979), or contrariwise, of loss or absence of boundaries. Additionally, stemming from Kohut's work (1977), the degree of wholeness/fragmentation, continuity/discontinuity, or esteem of the self is also seen as central. It is doubtless no accident that both of these areas have to do with the relation of self to other, whether via differentiation from the "dual-unity" (Mahler, 1972), or the contemporary selfobject serving functions for the self (Kohut, 1977), or the actual historical (mirroring and idealforming) functions served by the parent for the child. These all have the ring of connection to those early stages in the development of the self that Stern (1985) refers to as "self with other." And they remind us of Spitz's (1957) earlier description of the development of the "I" inherently in relation to the "non-I" and, later, of the self in relation to the object. Thus, what I shall work with as the domain of the psychology of self-experience is subjective experience specifically around feelings of self-definition in relation to the object."
(pp. 571-574) 

Fred Pine (1988). The Four Psychologies of Psychoanalysis and their Place in Clinical Work. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Vol. 36, pp. 571-596.

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