ambivalence (ămbĭvˈələns) [key], coexistence of two opposing drives, desires, feelings, or emotions toward the same person, object, or goal. The ambivalent person may be unaware of either of the opposing wishes. The term was coined in 1911 by Eugen Bleuler, to designate one of the major symptoms of schizophrenia, the others being autism and disturbances of affect (i.e., emotion) and of association (i.e., thought disorders). Bleuler felt that there were normal instances of ambivalence, such as the feeling, after performing an action, that it would have been better to have done the opposite; but the normal person, unlike the schizophrenic, is not prevented by these opposing impulses from deciding and acting. In Freudian psychoanalysis, ambivalence was described as feelings of love and hate toward the same person. This specific meaning has attained common usage by psychiatrists and psychoanalysts.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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