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Jacobs, T. Aron, L. Balsam, R.H. (2001). Commentaries. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 49(3):752-772.
(2001). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 49(3):752-772
Theodore Jacobs, Lewis Aron and Rosemary H. Balsam
Fred Busch's plenary address, which reads as splendidly as it was delivered, performs an important service, not only for American psychoanalysis, but for analysis wherever it is practiced. For in it Busch brings us back to basics. At a time when our field is in a state of turmoil, when longstanding ideas and ways of working are being challenged by new perspectives and new paradigms, Busch reminds us that the essential goal of analysis, the goal for which it was invented and which remains its fundamental purpose, is the expansion of the analysand's mind through insight into those unconscious fantasies and beliefs that lie at the root of his difficulties. Busch reminds us, too, that although patients come to analysis seeking help and wishing to change, they are also profoundly fearful of change and will struggle mightily against efforts to alter their fixed and accustomed ways of doing business in the world. The unconscious, as we know, is firmly entrenched in the right wing of the Republican Party, and in all of us there exists a Strom Thurmond character who insists forever on the status quo, and who fights tooth and nail against change.
While I do not believe that it is quite correct to say, as Busch contends, that few analysts today speak about unconscious fears—Arlow, Brenner, and many other traditional analysts have emphasized for years the central role in psychopathology of unconscious fantasies related to the calamities of childhood—it is quite true that in recent years increased interest in the intersubjective and relational dimensions of analysis, and in the enactments that take place between patient and analyst, has in some hands shifted the focus away from the importance of unconsciouschildhood fantasies as the core ingredient in the patient's symptoms and character problems.
Busch correctly emphasizes, too, that the only way to make progress in dealing with the patient's underlying fears, rooted and entwined as they are in prestructural thinking, is first and foremost to analyze the defenses that the patient has built up around them—defenses that keep these infantile fears unconscious and that help sustain the stable, if pathological, compromise formations that the patient has come to rely on and is loathe to relinquish.
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