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Viederman, M. (1998). Viederman on Reconstruction and Veridicality. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(2):551-556.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(2):551-556

Viederman on Reconstruction and Veridicality

Milton Viederman

With Freud's discovery of psychic reality and his renunciation of the traumatic theory of neurosis in 1897 came an important new vision that ultimately led to a psychoanalytic theory of the neuroses. The displacement of reality from center stage facilitated the elaboration of theory and permitted Freud to develop a coherent view of intrapsychic processes divorced from reality. It was only with the publication in 1926 of “Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety” (and with the later development of ego psychology) that reality again intruded on psychoanalytic theory, though of course at no point was Freud oblivious to the influence of reality.

In JAPA 46/1 Michael Good's discussion of a case that I described in detail in these pages (Viederman 1995, JAPA 43/4) examines the problem of trauma versus fantasy in a thorough, erudite, and scholarly fashion that clears the ground for an interesting debate. Good raises issues pertinent to the dialectic between psychic and veridical reality (veridicality both as a reaction to facts and as accuracy of interpretation). He elegantly outlines the complex nature of memory, its relation to screening, (i.e., defensive transformations), and the validity of interpretation both in the broadest sense of understanding and in the more narrow sense of a communication of understanding to the patient, with its implications for technique. He raises important questions. Must every interpretation follow the path of transference? What are the implications for outcome if a central transference fantasy is not interpreted in a particular context though interpreted in others? Are there rules for truth-finding in psychoanalysis? If so, what are they? What of the issue of timing and the pragmatic question of what you interpret to a patient at a moment in time? What is the truth value of external verification of events by other people, particularly in relation to psychoanalysis?

It is my intention to address these questions in my discussion. Good's reading of the material I presented offered me the opportunity to reread my paper in the manner of an explication de texte, to approach it not from the point of view of my experience with the patient but from the point of view of the interpretation of a document.

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