Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Conflict: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Conflict

1st Edition

Edited by Christopher Christian, Morris N. Eagle, David L Wolitzky


320 pages

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Paperback: 9781138795211
pub: 2017-01-31
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pub: 2017-01-25
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pub: 2017-02-03
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Since its inception, and throughout its history, psychoanalysis has been defined as a psychology of conflict. Freud’s tripartite structure of id, ego and superego, and then modern conflict theory, placed conflict at the center of mental life and its understanding at the heart of therapeutic action.As psychoanalysis has developed into the various schools of thought, the understanding of the importance of mental conflict has broadened and changed.​

In Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Conflict, a highly distinguished group of authors outline the main contemporary theoretical understandings of the role of conflict in psychoanalysis, and what this can teach us for everyday psychoanalytic practice. The book fills a gap in psychoanalytic thinking as to the essence of conflict and therapeutic action, at a time when many theorists are re-conceptualizing conflict in relation to aspects of mental life as an essential component across theories. 

Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Conflict will be of interest to psychologists, psychoanalysts, social workers, and other students and professionals involved in the study and practice of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, cognitive science and neuroscience.


"In this major contribution to the field, the editors have taken the fundamental psychoanalytic premise of conflict as a central organizing construct for purposes of comparing and contrasting a broad array of psychoanalytic perspectives on personality development, psychopathology and therapeutic action. Their approach provides a kaleidoscopic perspective that illuminates both intriguing connections and subtle difference among diverse psychoanalytic approaches. Bringing together outstanding contributions from some of the leading figures in the field, the editors have produced a superb volume that is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of psychoanalysis." - Jeremy D. Safran, Ph.D., Chair & Professor of Psychology, The New School for Social Research

"Psychoanalytic approaches differ in the way they deal with conflict-- with some believing that conflict can be resolved and others rejecting such a prospect. Indeed, no psychoanalytic approach fails to conceptualize conflict, and one can reasonably conclude that conflict is fundamental to a psychoanalytic way of thinking about human beings and about treatment. Yet, it is surprising to realize that conflict has not been the subject of more focus and reflection. Until now, Christian, Eagle and Wolitzky have done an extraordinary service to the field by collecting essays from different psychoanalytic orientations-- Contemporary Freudian, Object Relations, Self Psychology, Relational, Lacanian and Attachment-- written by some of the most original thinkers in the field. Treatment issues are central, but the book also covers neurobiological and developmental issues as well. For psychoanalysts who long for dialogue across psychoanalytic orientations, this book is exemplary, and deserves a wide audience." - Elliot Jurist, Professor of Psychology and Philosophy, the Graduate Center and the City College of New York, the City University of New York, and Editor of Psychoanalytic Psychology

Table of Contents

About the authors



  1. Inner Conflict in Freudian Theory – Morris N. Eagle
  2. The Evolution of Modern Conflict Theory – Chris Christian
  3. The Fate of Conflict and the Impoverishment of Our Clinical Methods – Fred Busch
  4. Conflict from the Perspective of Free Association – Anton O. Kris
  5. Inner Conflict in Fairbairn’s Theory of Endopyschic Structure – Morris N. Eagle
  6. Kleinian and Post-Kleinian Perspectives on Conflict – Neal Vorus
  7. Analytic Trust, Transference and the Importance of Conflict – Steve Ellman
  8. Emergence of Conflict During the Development of Self: A Relational Self Psychology Perspective – James L. Fosshage
  9. The Phenomenological Contextualism of Conflict: An Intersubjective Perspective – Chris Jaenicke
  10. Conflict and Change: Producer, Trigger, Sign, Outcome – Adrienne Harris
  11. The Dialectic of Desire: a view of intrapsychic conflict in the work of Jacques Lacan – David Lichtenstein
  12. Forces at Play in Psychical Conflict – Jean Laplanche
  13. On Conflict in Attachment Theory and Research – Howard Steele and Miriam Steele
  14. Addressing Defenses against Painful Emotions: Modern Conflict Theory in Psychotherapeutic Approaches with Children – Leon Hoffman, Timothy R. Rice and Tracy A. Prout
  15. Implicit Attitudes, Unconscious Fantasy, and Conflict – Benjamin A. Saunders and Philip S. Wong
  16. Neural Basis of Intrapsychic and Unconscious Conflict and Repetition Compulsion – Heather A. Berlin and John Montgomery


About the Editors

Christopher Christian, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor at the New School for Social Research, Director at the New School Beth Israel Center for Clinical Training and Research, member of IPTAR and Faculty at the Institute for Psychoanalytic Education, NYU Medical Center. He is co- editor of The Second Century of Psychoanalysis: Evolving Perspectives on Therapeutic Action and is onthe editorial board of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association and Psychoanalytic Psychology.

Morris N. Eagle, Ph.D. is Distinguished Educator-in Residence at California Lutheran University and is in part-time private practice. He is the author of From Classical to Contemporary Psychoanalysis: A Critique and Integration and many journal articles. Morris is former President of the Division of Psychoanalysis of the American Psychological Association and recipient of the Sigourney Award, 2009.

David L. Wolitzky, Ph.D. is a faculty member in the Department of Psychology, New York University, where he held the position of Director of Clinical Training for the Ph.D. Program in Clinical Psychology. He is a graduate of the New York Psychoanalytic Institute and is a Supervisor in the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. David is the Editor of the Psychological Issues book series.

About the Series

Psychological Issues

The basic mission of Psychological Issues is to contribute to the further development of psychoanalysis as a science, as a respected scholarly enterprise, as a theory of human behavior, and as a therapeutic method.

Over the past 50 years, the series has focused on fundamental aspects and foundations of psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice, as well as on work in related disciplines relevant to psychoanalysis. Psychological Issues does not aim to represent or promote a particular point of view. The contributions cover broad and integrative topics of vital interest to all psychoanalysts as well as to colleagues in related disciplines. They cut across particular schools of thought and tackle key issues, such as the philosophical underpinnings of psychoanalysis, psychoanalytic theories of motivation, conceptions of therapeutic action, the nature of unconscious mental functioning, psychoanalysis and social issues, and reports of original empirical research relevant to psychoanalysis. The authors often take a critical stance toward theories and offer a careful theoretical analysis and conceptual clarification of the complexities of theories and their clinical implications, drawing upon relevant empirical findings from psychoanalytic research as well as from research in related fields.

The Editorial Board continues to invite contributions from social/behavioral sciences such as anthropology and sociology, from biologcal sciences such as physiology and the various brain sciences, and from scholarly humanistic disciplines such as philosophy, law, and ethics.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Psychotherapy / General
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health