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Encyclopedia of Psychology Alan E. Kazdin, PhD, Editor-in-Chief

BREUER, JOSEF (1842-1925), Austrian physician and physiologist.

Breuer became acquainted with Freud in 1877 at the Physiological Institute, beginning a friendship in which Breuer was at first a financial patron and adviser and later a collaborator in the publishing of the book Studies on Hysteria in 1895. It was the famous case of “Anna O.” (Bertha Pappenheim), a patient of Breuer’s, that led to the development of the “talking cure.”

The physical symptoms were thus viewed as substitutes for the conscious recollection of painful memories. This original formulation helped lead Freud to his later technique of free association, recognizing the importance of fantasy and associations.

In explaining how affect becomes “strangulated” in hysterical patients, Breuer and Freud argued for three types of hysteria. The first, retention hysteria. was viewed as stemming from external circumstances (such as combat) that conspire to prevent the expression of affect. The second, Breuer’s notion of hypnoid hysteria, viewed some individuals as more prone to hypnoidlike states due to monotonous activities, thus potentially explaining why women were more prone to these states than men. More important, it implied the notion of a pathogenic idea, a strictly mental entity (memory) capable of exerting a direct influence on the physical processes of the body. The third type, defense hysteria, was ultimately the only one to be retained in Freud’s work and elaborated in his theory of defense mechanisms and the sexual etiology of neurosis.

BRIDGMAN, PERCY WILLIAMS (1882-1961). American physicist.

The seminal statement appeared in his book The Logic of Modern Physics, in which he stated, “In general we mean by any concept nothing more than a set of operations: the concept is synonymous with the corresponding set of operations” (1927, p. 5).

Upon operational analysis, any concept that did not correspond to a measurement was to be declared meaningless.

Although psychologists and philosophers struggled with these difficulties, Bridgman himself came to accept the idea that all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, is private, existing only in the mind of the understanding knower. He also asserted that there is no method that can uniquely be called the scientific method.


These strategic-systems approaches tended to view presenting complaints as artifacts of problem-solving behavior that unwittingly reinforce maladaptive patterns. The goal of helping, therefore, was less to cure illness than to interrupt self-reinforcing problem patterns and allow individuals to establish new action modes.

It would appear that the active, focused introduction of new patterns in the context of heightened client experiencing is a major facilitative ingredient of the short-term therapies.

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