Charles Brenner Dead

Interesting piece on Charles Brenner, known to some as the “dean of psychoanalysis“.

In a break from strict orthodoxy, Dr. Brenner argued that Freud’s concepts of the ego, the id, and the superego were just that, concepts, and that the engine of human motivation was more like a psychological calculator, continuously computing ratios of pleasure versus pain: the gratification that would come from a love affair, for instance, versus the risk of discovery and abiding ache of guilt….

Through it all, Dr. Brenner, revered in some quarters as almost a surrogate for Freud, defended Freud’s legacy against skeptics and other reformers with withering certainty. He became, in the words of the writer Janet Malcolm, “the intransigent purist of American psychoanalysis.”

Dr. Owen Renik, an analyst in private practice in San Francisco, called Dr. Brenner “an unusually clear thinker who simply had no use for empty theorizing.”

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