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Fromm, E. (1991). Causes for the Patient's Change in Analytic Treatment. Contemp. Psychoanal., 27:581-601.
(1991). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 27:581-601
Causes for the Patient's Change in Analytic Treatment
Erich Fromm, Ph.D.
WHEN SPEAKING ABOUT FACTORS leading to analytic cure, I think the most important work written on the subject was Freud's essay Analysis, Terminable and Interminable, which is one of his most brilliant papers, and, if one could put it that way, one of his most courageous, although Freud never lacked courage in any of his other works. It was written not long before his death, and in a way it is Freud's own last summarizing word about the effect of analytic cure. What I should like to do tonight is to first summarize briefly the main ideas of this paper and then, in the main part of this lecture, try to comment on it and possibly make some suggestions in connection with it.
First of all, what is interesting in this paper is that Freud presents in it a theory of psychoanalysis which had not really changed since the early days. His concept of neurosis is that neurosis is a conflict between instinct and the ego: either the ego is not strong enough, or the instincts are too strong, but at any rate, the ego is a dam; it is not capable of resisting the onrush of instinctual forces, and for this reason neurosis occurs. This is in line and consistent with his early theory, and he presented it also in its essence without trying to embellish or modify it. What follows from that is that analytic cure consists essentially in strengthening the ego which in infancy was too weak, enabling it to cope now with instinctual forces, in a period in which the ego would be strong enough.
Secondly, what according to Freud is cure? He makes it very clear, and I may quote two or three sentences here: "first, … the patient"—provided we speak of cure—"shall no longer be suffering from his symptoms and shall have overcome his anxieties and his inhibitions" (Freud, 1937p. 219).
There is another very important condition.
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