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Chused, J.F. (1996). The Therapeutic Action Of Psychoanalysis: Abstinence And Informative Experiences. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:1047-1071.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:1047-1071

The Therapeutic Action Of Psychoanalysis: Abstinence And Informative Experiences

Judith Fingert Chused

In recent years a number of analytic concepts have been subject to scrutiny, with the value of interpretations, the usefulness of abstinence, the possibility of neutrality, all questioned. One reason for the skepticism about interpretations, in particular, is that before a patient can use an interpretation for psychic change, his perceptual frame must change, a process that is rarely initiated by the verbal content of an interpretation alone. Instead, alterations in perception usually require experiences which are discordant with expectations. In this paper the author demonstrates how the nonverbal elements of an intervention, the action communications, provide informative experiences, creating the dissonance between expectation and eventuality which makes psychic change possible. Case vignettes are presented to illustrate this point as well as to support the idea that when nonverbal experiences contribute to lasting change within a patient, the therapeutic benefit does not accrue primarily from the gratification provided by the experience, but from how the experience informs the patient about his mode of thinking, perceiving, and reacting.

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