A Comparative Psychopathology Approach to Language Behavior

  • Irving Steingart
Part of the The Downstate Series of Research in Psychiatry and Psychology book series (DSRPP, volume 1)


The mark of the innovative theoretician is the creation of a new language about theoretical structures and processes which brings an explanatory order to events which previously only could be described as disparate, unrelated phenomena. I think one can maintain, at least in a rough fashion, that Freud created at least three such new clinical (as opposed to metapsychological) languages for us which remain vital today. Freud’s (1905) topographic theory, with its systems of Conscious, Preconscious, and a dynamic Unconscious, operating within different conditions of conflict with the psycho-sexual drives, produced such an ordering for neurotic, perverse, and normal sexual behavior. Freud’s structural theory, with its systems of Id, Ego, and Superego, operating again within different matrices of conflict, but now with aggressive as well as psycho-sexual drives, supplemented the topographic theory and expanded this ordering of human behavior. For example, with this new structural theory of the mind, Freud (1923) could explain the interrelations among states of normal grief, melancholia, and mania. The third theory of the mind which supplements the first two is actually the oldest of the three. Freud (1900) called it “the psychic apparatus.” I would prefer to call it the “meaning apparatus.” It has to do with how an individual comes to represent experiences for himself and acquires signs (especially language) in connection with such representation. Freud needed this theory of the mind, again operating within different psychodynamic contexts, to comprehend, e.g., the interrelations among the nightly dreams of normal individuals and the hallucinations of schizophrenics (1900, 1911b).


Complex Sentence Schizophrenic Subject Language Behavior Chronic Schizophrenic Independent Clause 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irving Steingart
    • 1
  1. 1.Downstate Medical CenterBrooklynUSA

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