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Gross, J. Hallerman, B. (1997). Basic Reassurance Revisited Presenter: Douglas H. Ingram, M.D. Discussant: Myron L. Glucksman, M.D. October 17, 1996 Journal Club Meeting: October 18, 1996. Am. J. Psychoanal., 57(2):179-180.

(1997). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 57(2):179-180

Scientific Meetings Of The Association For The Advancement Of Psychoanalysis

Basic Reassurance Revisited Presenter: Douglas H. Ingram, M.D. Discussant: Myron L. Glucksman, M.D. October 17, 1996 Journal Club Meeting: October 18, 1996

Edited by:
Joan Gross, C.S.W. and Betsy Hallerman, C.S.W.

Gayle Lewis, Ph.D.

Reflecting upon his impetus for exploring the area of reassurance in contemporary psychoanalysis, Douglas H. Ingram identified Alexander Reid Martin's 1949 paper “Reassurance in Therapy” as being a seminal work when it was written over 20 years ago.

Ingram began by summarizing and explaining the main points of “Reassurance in Therapy.” The definition of reassurance, according to Martin, was “to free from fear, anxiety, and terror.” However, due to its elusive and subjective elements, anxiety was felt to be unresponsive to ordinary reassurance. In an effort to protect themselves, patients unconsciously objectify their anxiety in an attempt at providing internal reassurance, according to Martin. These “objectifications” then are seen as symptoms that analysts are often tempted to remove, thus disregarding the unconscious processes behind the symptoms. Martin then identifies three ways in which reassurance can be categorized: (1) false reassurance, which disregards the determinants of inner conflict and consequent anxiety; (2) superficial or defense reassurance, which recognizes the unconscious values of the complaint but seeks mainly to restore defenses; (3) basic reassurance, which derives primarily from the philosophy of the analyst, as expressed in Martin's formula of the four H's—Holism, unity of the self; Humanism, feeling and emotion; Homer (or poetry), metaphor and allegory; and Humor.

Ingram organized his critique of Martin's view of reassurance by providing a contextualistic perspective on analytic practice. He emphasized the danger of “false reassurance” and expressed the importance of appreciating the patient's complaints and recognizing their powerful value. He extended Martin's idea of humanism by addressing the conversational, interpersonal nature of the analytic relationship, but noted that a holistic perspective can deny the “fluidity of subjectivity” by emphasizing the “ideal” and eliminating the “eccentricities.”

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