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Bonomi, C. (2001). The Evolution of the Practice of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies. Int. Forum Psychoanal., 10(3-4):217-220.

(2001). International Forum of Psychoanalysis, 10(3-4):217-220

The Evolution of the Practice of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapies

Carlo Bonomi, Ph.D.

When Freud began his professional career, psychotherapy was already an established practice, standing upon the theory of ideogenesis, according to which certain motor symptoms were caused by ideas. This theory offered the rational ground for psychotherapy: if a symptom was provoked by an idea, it was possible to undo it by finding and erasing this very idea. Freud developed this theory into the model of unconscious ideas and into the technique of “interpreting the contents”. Whereas the later discoveries of resistance, transference, and character structure, should have promoted a break with the ideogenetic model, Freud never gave up the erroneous assumption that behind an action there was an idea, which had to be captured if one wanted to stop the action. This assumption was questioned again and again during the interminable controversy over the relative importance of remembering and experiencing: by Ferenczi and Rank in the Twenties, Alexander in the Fifties, and Gill in the Eighties, when they tried to shift the focus from remembering to experiencing, in order to make psychoanalysis an effective psychotherapy. Today, the view that what organizes our actions is stored in the form of “ideas” is no longer accepted by the scientific community. Instead, we speak of “operative models” and implicit or procedural memories.

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