Measuring Libidinal and Aggressive Motives and Their Controls by Means of the Rorschach Test

  • Robert R. Holt


The psychoanalytic theory of motivation is today in a state of flux, not to say confusion. Its fundamental concepts (psychic energy and tension reduction, and the passive reflex model of the organism) are bankrupt, and more evidence is piling up daily that a different set of basic assumptions must be chosen as the starting-points of a tenable theory. Yet the clinical discoveries of Freud, his formulations of so-called personality dynamics, the indirect and disguised effects of unconscious motives and defenses on behavior—these seem to me of indisputable value for the practicing clinician and personality researcher, poorly supported by hard data though many of the relevant propositions may be. The consequence of this anomalous state of affairs for my own work is that I am simultaneously criticizing various aspects of the metapsychological model (Holt, 1963a; 1965a, 1965c; 1967e) and working with a psychoanalytic system of scoring drives or wishes in the Rorschach which seems to me as fruitful as the theory seems barren. A group of my colleagues and I are beginning to see some ways we may be able to develop a more tenable psychoanalytic model of man (Holt, 1967b), but it is too early to go into that [see, however, Holt, 1976a]. All I want to do here is to indicate my general feeling about the psychoanalytic theory of motivation, which is one of hope and respect mingled with exasperation, and then spend most of my time talking about some data.


Primary Process Aggressive Response Defense Effectiveness Psychoanalytic Theory Aggressive Score 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert R. Holt
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Center for Mental HealthNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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