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The Critique of Regression

Rizzolo, Gregory (2018) The Critique of Regression. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

When we dream, Freud (1900) maintained, we slip backwards from a world of conscious action to an unconscious realm of infantile memory and desire. The residues of our waking life meet there with repressed primitive wishes capable of animating a dream. The idea of regression, with all of its intrigue, would shape a century of theory building. It would also become one of the thorniest, if recently neglected, areas of inquiry. The history of the concept attests to two interwoven but distinct traditions. One tradition emphasizes the defensive, or evasive, function of regression. The other calls attention to potential non-defensive, restorative functions. Both traditions rely problematically on what Hartmann (1965) termed the genetic fallacy: the reduction of later forms to their original precursors. The genetic fallacy, in turn, supports a morality of maturity whereby unwanted aspects of human experience, which we recognize to be universal, are nonetheless attributed uniquely to children or to images of the child within. I shall argue, contrary to the theory of regression, that the person is inextricably nested in the present field of lifespan development. What were formerly considered regressions are better described as shifts, or transformations, within the field. The pathologies of regression are best seen, not as the result of regressive arrest/fixation, but as adaptations to cyclical lifespan problems. I articulate the theoretical propositions behind this reframe and explore its application in two case histories, one of a defensive regression, one of restorative regression, in the recent literature.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0500 Psychoanalysis
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Gregory Rizzolo
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2018 09:56
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2018 09:56
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21875

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