Primary Process Thinking

Primary Process Thinking : Theory, Measurement, and Research

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Volume one of this comprehensive approach to one of Freud's most important conceptual achievements, the theory of thinking, examines the emergence and changes in his conceptions of primary and secondary process thought in their theoretical and clinical contexts. Unlike most treatments, which emphasize their embeddedness in metapsychology, the text demonstrates the empirical grounding of these concepts in observation and describes how it led to a method of quantitative measurement. A summary of major, theoretically relevant findings with that method, plus a critical review of post-Freudian reexaminations of primary process, leads to a reformulation of the psychoanalytic theory of thinking that is, in Rubinstein's term, protoneurophysiological: as consistent as possible with contemporary knowledge in the brain sciences. In so doing, the author attempts to convert a psychoanalytic theory into a set of testable propositions using objectively quantifiable, scientific concepts. Moreover, he shows how data obtained with his method can be used to confront the theoretical propositions, verifying some, rejecting some, and significantly modifying others.
Volume two is an enclosed compact disc. The first ten chapters constitute a detailed scoring manual, designed to be self-teaching, for applying the concepts of primary process, its controls and defenses, to data from the Rorschach and Thematic Apperception Tests, dreams, and free verbal data. The remaining chapters treat its reliability and validity, including a critical summary of over one hundred researches from around the world, demonstrating how it can be used not only to test psychoanalytic propositions but to illuminate issues in clinical psychiatry, clinical and developmental psychology, and personality. A concluding chapter points to many promising directions for further research.
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Product details

  • Mixed media product | 153 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 22.86mm | 408.23g
  • Northvale NJ, United States
  • English
  • 0765706423
  • 9780765706423

Review quote

Once in a while, a really exceptional book appears in scientific literature. Holt's book on measuring primary process thinking is one of those rare gifts, in a world where genuine scholarship is too often sacrificed to the benefits of transitory fashion. In my opinion, this book constitutes the most significant and successful attempt ever at dimensional quantification of psychoanalytic propositions. Interestingly, the book appears at a time when psychoanalytic theory is under attack precisely for its alleged past failure to meet the exigencies of contemporary scientific research. Nothing could be more useful in these times of harsh controversy than a book based on data rather than passions. -- Germain Lavoie, University of Montreal A masterful reconceptualization of a psychoanalytically-based theory of thinking, transcending Freud's no longer tenable metapsychological constructions, and incorporating now neuroscience and cognitive science advances-engagingly written and happily quite jargon-free. A must for those concerned to understand the nature of thinking as a quintessential human activity. -- Robert S. Wallerstein, MD, past president of the International Psychoanalytic Association The nature and functions of primary process modes of thought are thoughtfully, systematically explored in Holt's scholarly monograph. Underlying much poetry, metaphor, and tropes, primary process thoughts explain much allusive creativity in the arts and are an unacknowledged presence in spontaneous, unconsidered life. -- Jack Block, University of California, Berkeley Robert Holt takes us on a splendid journey through a jungle of theories concerning primary and secondary process thought. He lays out a lucid empirical path to study issues long mired in the conceptual realm, from condensations to displacements, so to speak. Holt's sterling empirical approach, forged from psychoanalytic insights but liberated from the attending vicissitudes, highlights a novel contribution to the science of mind. -- Jaak Panksepp, College of Veterinary Medicine, Washington State University This extraordinary, useful, and yes, daunting book is the result - indeed, in an important sense, the culmination - of a long and productive professional lifetime of work... An expert, closely reasoned, detailed critique... Offers an ingenious, creative, multifaceted manualized system that the auhtor and his collaborators have developed over the years for scoring primary process manifestations in Rorschach responses... Demands attentive reading and repays it by introducing a method that is itself a codification of Holt's sophisticated understanding of how primary process thinking reveals itself in actual clinical work... Holt is scrupulous... Provides exemplary demonstrations of the application of scientific rigor and the payoff from years of devoted concentration on a grand but humbling topic. -- Harriette Kaley PsycCRITIQUES, June 2010 A remarkably sophisticated integration and operationalization of the psychoanalytic theory of thinking, from illogical drive-laden to adaptive even creative thought, that has led to systematic empirical investigations that have enabled Robert Holt to enrich and extend the psychoanalytic theory of complex mental processes. -- Sidney J. Blatt, Yale University
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About Robert R. Holt

Robert R. Holt is a past president of the American Psychological Association's Division of Clinical Psychology and has served on the editorial boards of seventeen journals and the Freud Encyclopedia. He has previously written or edited 15 books, including Freud Reappraised (1989) and two other Psychological Issues monographs: Motives and Thought (1967), and Psychoanalysis and the Philosophy of Science (1997).
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Table of contents

Chapter 1 Foreword Chapter 2 1. Theoretical Foundations Chapter 3 2. From Theory to Measurement: Developing the Primary Process Scoring Method Chapter 4 3. Toward a New Psychoanalytic Theory of Thinking
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