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October 1957

Psychoanalytic Theories of Activity-Passivity Conflicts and of the Continuum of Ego DefensesExperimental Verification, Using Reserpine and Chlorpromazine

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1957;78(4):413-418. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1957.02330400087011

Psychoanalytic research has usually been conducted through the analysis of individual cases. This has yielded gratifying results. It is rare to find experiments using the scientific technique of the inductive experiment which directly apply to the data obtained by psychoanalysis. This is not surprising, since a psychological technique is needed to obtain psychological data. The older and more conventional branches of experimental science have, as a result, not always looked with favor or acceptance on the findings of psychoanalysis.

Projects and Their Aims  In investigating the effects on affect of reserpine and chlorpromazine in the wards of the psychoanalytically oriented psychiatric unit of a general hospital (Queen Mary Veterans' Hospital), experimental evidence was accidentally obtained which verified psychoanalytic concepts of activity-passivity conflicts2,4-8 and of the continuum of ego defenses.1,3,7,13Fifty-five specially selected patients with marked disorders of affect were studied with reserpine for a year. Concomitantly, 35 patients