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Andresen, J.J. (1996). An Origin Of The Inhibition Of Imagination. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:307.

(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:307

An Origin Of The Inhibition Of Imagination

Jeffry J. Andresen, M.D.

IF YOU LISTEN WITH EYES CLOSED while I read aloud a passage of good descriptive prose, scenes will probably spring spontaneously before your inner sight. Attending to such spontaneous mental events and reporting them to another became for Freud the central activities in psychoanalytic pursuit of transforming self-discovery (Freud, 1913). But despite the great promise held by this method for enlarging the awareness of mind, some analysands, he found, could not comply with his instructions for free association.

In this article I invite you to consider that difficulties in summoning such spontaneity of mind in psychoanalysis and elsewhere are in some cases the result of specific persisting effects of the way another person is held in mind. A consequence is that attaining a capacity for imaginative spontaneity can require a parting with that person. This entails aloneness and a need to mourn. Implications of this parting can be so menacing that the parting is not allowed. Successful parting may require the presence of an attentive listener who is, unlike the one who has been held in mind, seeking to understand.

There are several ways to present this view. I have chosen to trace relevant work by Freud on free association and its impediments and then offer a more complete presentation of the thesis along with observations from three representative clinical cases. I next more closely study forms of experiences in mental "twoness" as they relate to views of mind set forth principally by Bion and Winnicott, and conclude with some implications of adoption of the point of view taken in the article.

Freud, as noted, instructed psychoanalysts to invite their analysands to be uncritically receptive to spontaneous mental experiences. The patient was to be a like a train passenger, noticing and describing whatever came into sight through the window as the train moved along (Freud, 1913). The psychoanalyst, in turn, was to adopt the same state of mind (Freud, 1912). Psychoanalysis,


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Copyright © 1996 W. A. W. Institute

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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 32, No. 2 (1996)

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