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Miller, M.L. (1996). Validation, Interpretation, and Corrective Emotional Experience in Psychoanalytic Treatment. Contemp. Psychoanal., 32:385-410.

(1996). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 32:385-410

Validation, Interpretation, and Corrective Emotional Experience in Psychoanalytic Treatment

Michael L. Miller, Ph.D

Research in the areas of implicit memory and social cognition have empirically corroborated the long-held psychoanalytic belief that unconscious mental contents and processes influence a person's judgment, reasoning, and behavior (Greenwald & Banaji, 1995; Lewicki, Hill & Czyzewska, 1992; Nisbett & Ross, 1980). This body of data supports the models of the mind constructed by cognitive and developmental psychologists and psychoanalytically oriented researchers to explain the nonconscious phenomena they observed in studies of human inferential reasoning and of infant-caregiver and patient-therapist interactions (Beebe & Lachmann, 1994; Dorpat & Miller, 1992; Epstein, 1994; Horowitz, 1988, 1991; Lichtenberg, Lachmann & Fosshage, 1992; Piaget, 1952, 1962, 1970; Rumelhart, Smolensky, McClelland & Hinton, 1986; Stern, 1985; Weiss & Sampson, 1986). In this article I will use a model of the mind and of the nonconscious mental processes postulated by this body of research to propose that a nonconscious process of validating experience and beliefs defines, in part, the psychotherapeutic interchange and is an essential component in the therapeutic action of psychoanalytic treatment. The concept of implicit validation will be used to delineate the process of unconscious mutual influence that forms the patient-analyst interaction and to differentiate the validating function of interpretations from the transformative effects of corrective emotional experiences.

Motivation and the Phenomenal Nature of the Mind

In the mental model I am using, the mind is composed of schemas, which are the mental representations of neural networks, that embody lived and imagined experience and knowledge (Rumelhart et al., 1986;


0010-7530/96 $2.00 + .05

Copyright © 1996 W. A. W. Institute

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Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 32, No. 3 (1996)

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