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Weir, H. (1996). Analytic reverie and poetic reverie: a comparison. Free Associations, 6(3):315-333.

(1996). Free Associations, 6(3):315-333

Analytic reverie and poetic reverie: a comparison

Heather Weir


In psychoanalysis one tunes ones associations to the patient's. Our spontaneous thoughts, feelings, and moods may occur in response to some unexpressed state in the patient. We then must learn to clarify them and express them for the patient.

When I entered the institute to train as an analyst I became aware of an inherent contradiction. On the surface I could see form, formality, and the scientific rigour of the curriculum. There were debates about theory and technique. Each theoretical discipline was espoused with genuine convincing understanding and some passion. The different theories opposed each other so I turned my mind to their intricacies with intellectual curiosity and energy.

After some time it became apparent that what is said and what is done may be different. In fact, how differing analysts are with the patient is more similar, despite their conflicting theories. One gets into the realm of the patient's feelings and the analyst's feelings in response to, the patient's unconscious and the analyst's unconscious in response. Then I came across several extraordinary remarks expressed as if ordinary. Freud said ‘He must turn his own unconscious like a receptive organ towards the transmitting unconscious of the patient. He must adjust himself to the patient as a telephone receiver is adjusted to the transmitting microphone’ (1912, p. 115). ‘It is a very remarkable thing that the Ucs of one human being can react upon the other without passing through the Ccs.’ (1915, p. 194).

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