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Myerson, P.G. (1963). Assimilation of Unconscious Material. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:317-327.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:317-327

Assimilation of Unconscious Material

Paul G. Myerson

The derivatives of unconscious conflicts that reach awareness during the course of a psycho-analysis are assimilated in a variety of ways, depending upon the psychological forces that are prevalent at the time awareness occurs. The nature of the assimilation process and the factors influencing its form are the subject of this paper.

Assimilation is delineated by Hartmann (1958) as a cognitive process, and this meaning of the term is utilized here. He states that 'defenses not only keep thoughts, images and instinctual drives out of consciousness but also prevent their assimilation by means of thinking. When the defensive processes break down, the mental elements defended against and certain connections of the elements become amenable to recollections and reconstruction. Interpretations not only help to regain the buried material but must also establish correct causal relations —that is, the causes, range of influence and effectiveness of the experiences in relation to the other elements.' He views the process of assimilation as a highly organized type of mental functioning that involves thinking about correct connexions and establishing causal relationships between the various previously isolated elements.

The psycho-analytic process leads to changes of a broader character than those involved in the assimilation of recovered conflicts by way of thinking (Bibring, 1937). Yet the economic, dynamic, structural, and adaptive changes that follow psycho-analysis and which may be manifest in new ways of tolerating and expressing affect and in more organized ways of behaving do not occur without the intermediary effect of complex types of thought process.

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