chapter  Chapter Five
12 Pages

Hierarchies in psychoanalysis

ByRobert Langs, James O. Raney, David Smith

The commanding theories in biology must be hierarchical in design—layered and structured rather than unidimensional—because living organisms, as well as their systems and processes, are, with few if any exceptions, structured in multilayered fashion. The first task confronting any science is to develop its own hierarchical structures as fully as possible. For psychoanalysis, an initial and limited effort in this direction can be found in a recent volume on this subject. The hierarchies described by the contributors to this volume essentially are of two kinds. Hierarchies capture and help to organize the complexities of biological nature. They involve the ordering of entities according to such criteria as scale, influence, dominance, power, functions, energy level, size, importance, and the like. The communicative approach to psychoanalysis has been compelled by its confrontations with inexplicable clinical observa-tions—so-called unsolved puzzles or anomalies—to develop a multi-hierarchical theory for the field.