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Smith, D.L. (1988). Commentary by a Communicative Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist. Brit. J. Psychother., 5(1):121-124.

(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 5(1):121-124

Commentary by a Communicative Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist Related Papers

David Livingstone Smith

I welcome this opportunity to comment on a psychotherapeutic hour from a Communicative Psychoanalytic perspective. As the Communicative approach is nun yet widely known in Britain I will begin by outlining some basic assumptions that will inform my analysis of this clinical interaction.

Freud, in The Interpretation of Dreams, stated that the two ideas on which psychoanalytic technique is based are (a) ‘when conscious purposive ideas are abandoned, concealed purposive ideas assume control of the current of ideas’ and (b) ‘superficial associations are only substitutes by displacement for suppressed deeper ones’ (p. 531). Classical psychoanalysis and virtually all its offshoots assert that the 'concealed purposive ideas inferred from the patient's associations are basically unconscious wishes, drives, phantasies and memories. In other words, these ‘derivatives’ serve to express aspects of a relatively closed intrapsychic system: the unconscious part of the mind. The unconscious mind is described as engaging with the external world only through such non-adaptive processes as transference, whereby the analyst is imaged as or mistaken for a character in the patient's intrapsychic drama.

The Communicative approach has demonstrated - in contrast to this - that the unconscious part of the mind (what Communicative therapists call the ‘Deep Unconscious System’) is first and foremost an instrument for subtle and refined intersubjective perception.

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