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Curtis, H.C. Malin, A. (1982). Construction and Reconstruction: Clinical Aspects. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 30:213-233.

(1982). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 30:213-233

Construction and Reconstruction: Clinical Aspects

Homer C. Curtis, M.D. and Arthur Malin, M.D.

HOMER CURTIS OPENED THE PANEL with a brief discussion of the historical and theoretical background of the concept and use of reconstruction. The early roots of reconstruction can be seen in the principle of abreaction, on through the "talking cure" and recovery of childhood memories, by way of shifting emphasis to transference, resistance, and structural considerations in Freud's 1937 paper "Constructions in Analysis." In this paper Freud granted reconstruction equal status with recovery of memories. Freud wrote of the therapeutic need for and value of reconstructions which put together information from memories, dreams, fantasies, transference, affects, and behavior into a more or less coherent picture of the past, which carries conviction for the patient.

Curtis reminded us that Freud went through an "agonizing reappraisal" of his earlier seduction theory which led to the shift in emphasis to the inner life of drives and fantasies. In the case of Dora there is an "environmentalist" tendency, making a general connection between symptoms and earlier life experiences in a direct way without significant attention to endopsychic fantasy elaborations. We see the latter in the case of the Wolf Man and the well-known reconstruction from that case. Curtis noted that there is a periodic emergence of theories of neurosogenesis based on direct-line, molding, or tabularasa-type of environmentalism which ignores the complications of endopsychic transformations, elaborations, and distortions.

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