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Glover, E. (1928). Lectures on Technique in Psycho-Analysis (Concluded). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 9:181-218.

(1928). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 9:181-218

Lectures on Technique in Psycho-Analysis (Concluded)

Edward Glover



I think perhaps the best approach to the subject of active therapy is to consider the significance of the term 'active'. You will remember that on several occasions, particularly when discussing resistances and the valuation of symptom-formations, it has been suggested that some technical devices come under the special heading of 'active' procedure. These rather mysterious references are liable to provoke some misapprehension in the minds of those who have not yet studied the historical development of psycho-analytic technique. After all, the reasonable comment might be made, 'If there are some emergency measures designed to meet situations of special difficulty, why not devote most of the available time to the exposition of these methods?': or 'Why bother about a roundabout technique if equally satisfactory and permanent results can be obtained by more direct methods?'

Now if we start from the descriptive and clinical point of view, the idea of active technique suggests some distinction from a previously existing 'passive' technique, although it does not necessarily imply that there were no 'active' elements in the passive technique. The 'active' elements might simply have been isolated from a passive technique, and elaborated into a fully-fledged 'active' method. Again, it might never have been intended to substitute an alternative procedure, but to use active measures as accessory devices, but here of course we again trip over a descriptive contrast between active and passive. Assuming then that some descriptive contrast is valid, we must go on to inquire whether this active technique is different in kind from passive technique, whether it has different theoretical implications, or again whether it is a quantitative rather than a qualitative factor which gives rise to the descriptive distinction. Having if possible decided this question, our next step is an investigation of the aim of active technique. Now the aim may be no different from that of psycho-analytic technique as previously understood, in which case 'active' technique would simply be an amplification of methods, filling up gaps in a previously incomplete and insufficient method.

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