On the Central Task of Psychotherapy

Psychoanalytic and Family Perspectives
  • Helm Stierlin


On September 21, 1897, Freud revoked the seduction theory of neuroses. This signaled the most severe crisis in his life and career. Till then, he had believed and publicly asserted that his patients’ neuroses could be traced to seductive, traumatizing parents or parent substitutes. Now he thought otherwise. This amounted, so he said, to the “Sturz aller Werte,” the collapse of all values. He was “certain,” he wrote in a letter to Wilhelm Fliess,1 “that in the unconscious there exists no marker of reality so that one cannot distinguish between truth and affect-laden fiction.” And, if this is so, he felt forced to conclude, our search for external traumatizing agents through a psychoanalysis must remain futile.


Family Therapy Power Struggle Relational Reality Oedipus Complex Severe Crisis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Freud S: Aus den Anfängen der Psychoanalyse 1887–1902. Briefe an Wilhelm Fliess. Frankfurt, S Fischer, 1950, pp 186–188, rev ed, 1975.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Freud S: Aus den Anfängen der Psychoanalyse 1887–1902. Briefe an Wilhelm Fliess. Frankfurt, S Fischer, 1950, p 193.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Krüll M: Sigmund Freud und Scin Vater. München, CH Beck, 1979.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Krüll M: Freuds Absage an die Verführungstheorie im Lichte Sciner eigenen Familiendynamik. Familiendynamik 2:102–129, 1978.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Stierlin H: Delegation und Familie. Frankfurt, Suhrkamp, 1978.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Stierlin H, et al: Das erste Familiengespräch (rev ed). Stuttgart, Klett, 1979. English edition: The First Interview with the Family, New York, Brunner/Mazel, 1980.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Bateson G: Steps to an Ecology of Mind. New York, Ballantine Books Inc, 1972.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lidz T, Fleck S, Cornelison A: Schizophrenia and the Family. New York, International Universities Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Freud S: Die Traumdeutung. Leipzig & Vienna, F Deuticke, 1900.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Bateson G: Bali: The Value System of a Study State. Steps to an Ecology of Mind. New York, Ballantine Books, Inc, 1972, 107–127.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Stierlin H: Status der Gegen Scitigkeit: die fünfte Perspektive des Heidelberger familiendynamischen Konzeptes. Familiendynamik 4:106–116, 1979.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Boszormenyi-Nagy I, Spark G: Invisible Loyalties: Reciprocity in Intergenerational Family Therapy. Hagerstown, Md., Harper & Row Publishers Inc, 1975.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Stierlin H: The adaptation to the stronger person’s reality in Stierlin H: Psychoanalysis and Family Therapy. New York, Jason Aronson, 1978, ppGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Selvini-Palazzoli M, Boscolo L, Cecchin G, et al: Paradox and Counterparadox. New York, Jason Aronson, 1978.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Weeks G, L’Abate L: A bibliography of paradoxical methods in psychotherapy of family systems. Fam Process 17:85–98, 1978.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Wynne LC: Paradoxical system intervention: Leverage for therapeutic change in families and individual schizophrenics. Presented at the Yale Symposium on Psychotherapy of Schizophrenia, April 10, 1979.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helm Stierlin
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Psychoanalysis and Family TherapyUniversity of HeidelbergHeidelberg 1Germany

Personalised recommendations