Revolution and evolution: A brief intellectual history of American psychoanalysis during the past two decades

Peter Buckley

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The past twenty years have witnessed revolutionary changes in the theory and practice of psychoanalysis in the United States. The previously dominant clinical model of ego psychology with its emphasis on ubiquitous unconscious conflict between instinctual drives and the demands of reality and conscience, all mediated by the ego, is now but one of an array of differing theoretical views vying for attention. The alternative competing theoretical and clinical domains can be loosely categorized under the rubrics of object relations, self psychology, and the off-shoots of these which include the relational and intersubjective frames. These insurgent models of mental functioning and development, all of which grow out of object relations theory and thus overlap conceptually, have significant implications for psychoanalytic technique. It is the purpose of this article to review aspects of these models and the historic and revolutionary changes that their appearance have effected in the psychoanalytic landscape. A brief summary will also be made of the more evolutionary advances that have occurred in ego psychology during the past two decades. The extant literature on these issues is complex and voluminous, not to say vast. In advance, I apologize for the necessarily selective and even idiosyncratic nature of this paper. Inevitably, many original and important contributions to the evolving mosaic that makes up contemporary psychoanalysis are ignored or short-changed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalAmerican journal of psychotherapy
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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