Charles Brenner (psychiatrist)
Charles Brenner (psychiatrist) (1914–2008) was an American psychoanalyst who served as President of the New York Psychoanalytic Society, and is perhaps best known for his contributions to drive theory, the structure of the mind, and conflict theory.
Early contributions 
Called 'the intransigent purist of American psychoanalyis', Brenner was 'the author of a forbidding Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis and, with Jacob Arlow, of Psychoanalytic Concepts and the Structural Theory, a once controversial, now standard advanced text'.
Eric Berne considered that on the question ' What is psychoanalysis? Two of the best books...are An Elementary Textbook of Psychoanalysis, by Charles Brenner, and Freud's Outline of Psychoanalysis '; and Brenner himself acknowledged that probably 'my most significant influence was as author of An Elementary Textbook '.
'One of the best descriptions of the superego is found in Charles Brenner's classic text, An Elementary Textbook ', where Brenner notes that '"contrary to the ordinary meaning of 'conscience', we understand that the functions of the superego are often largely or completely unconscious"'.
'Brenner is known for his advocacy of a fanatically meticulous, aseptic analytic technique and for his hard-line theoretical position...[in] ego-psychology'. In his article '"Working Alliance, Therapeutic Alliance, and Transference" (1979), Brenner challenged the whole notion that transference and "the real relationship" can be separated, attacking the concepts of 'the "working alliance" or the "therapeutic alliance" as a kind of shady side deal that...robs the patient of the full use of the analytic instrumentality'.
Brenner points out that 'it is presumptious to act the anaylst, unbidden, in a social or family situation. It is a technical lapse to be other than an analyst in one's relations with an analytic patient....As an example, for his analyst to express sympathy for a patient who has just lost a close relative may make it more difficult than it would otherwise be for the patient to express pleasure or spite or exhibitionistic satisfaction over the loss'. Janet Malcolm comments that 'this is taking respect for individual experience and generosity of spirit toward human frailty very far indeed'.
Late revisions 
Brenner has been notable 'for his courageous willingness on more than one occasion to alter accepted psychoanalytic paradigms' - something perhaps most apparent with his late revision of Freud's structural theory, culminating in his article "Conflict, Compromise Formation, and Structural Theory"(2002) which he himself recently termed 'the most useful and valuable contribution I have been able to make to the field of psychoanalysis'.
In his final development of conflict theory, 'Brenner's edifice is built on an elaboration of Arlow's (1969) concept "fantasy function" and Freud's (1894) concept "compromise formation"'; and its mixture of innovation and conservation meant that 'subsequently to 1994, Brenner can be characterized as...someone who breaks new ground without abandoning tradition'. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, 'Charles Brenner's conflict theory is the leading analytic theory taught in psychoanalytic institutes, throughout the United States'.
'Unfortunately, dialectical interchange was not Charlie's forte; he tended to be dismissive of points of view different from his own. As a result, there was a limit to the extent to which his thinking evolved'.
His late contribution, conflict theory, has also been severely criticised: 'conflict theory cannot be reconciled with neuroscience, or the fundings of classical psychoanalysis and analytical psychology'.
See also 
- Janet Malcolm, Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession (London 1988) p. 4
- Eric Berne, A Layman's Guide to Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis (Middlesex 1976) p. 297
- Quoted in Arnold M. Cooper, Contemporary Psychoanalysis in America (2006) p. 2
- H. Mindess/A. Berger, Laughter and Liberation (2010) p. 5
- Malcolm, Impossible, p. 4
- Malcolm, Impossible p. 45
- Quoted in Malcolm, Impossible p. 45-7
- Malcolm, Impossible p. 47
- Cooper, Contemporary p. 2
- Quoted in Cooper, Contemporary p. 3
- Arnold Rothstein, Making Freud More Freudian (London 2010) p. ix-x
- Mats Winther, "Critique of Conflict Theory (2007)"
- Owen Renick, in Benedict Carey, "Charles Brenner, Psychoanalyst, Dies at 94"
Further reading 
- Charles Brenner, "Modern Conflict Theory"
- Charles Brenner, The Mind in Conflict (New York 1982)