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Glover, E. (1924). 'Active Therapy' and Psycho-Analysis—A Critical Review. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:269-311.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:269-311

'Active Therapy' and Psycho-Analysis—A Critical Review

Edward Glover



To limit a review of work on active technique to a consideration of the technical suggestions made by Ferenczi would be, as Ferenczi himself suggests, to misunderstand the use of the word 'active' and in reality to leave out of account important stages in the history of psycho-analytic therapy.

As he points out, the Breuer-Freud cathartic method was essentially one of great activity. A vigorous attempt was made, under hypnosis if necessary, to awaken memories, i.e. not only was the attitude of the physician an active one, but the patient was called upon to make definite strenuous efforts. Further, the present method is passive only by contrast. It is true that the patient remains passive, but the physician cannot permit the patient's phantasies to continue indefinitely and, when the material is ready to crystallize, the former must abandon his passivity and interpret in order to make easier the associative paths otherwise barred by resistance. During this 'obstetrical thought-assistance', as Ferenczi calls it, the patient remains, as before, passive.


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