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Wisdom, J.O. (1967). Testing an Interpretation Within a Session. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 48:44-52.

(1967). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 48:44-52

Testing an Interpretation Within a Session

J. O. Wisdom

Psycho-analysis certainly involves huge numbers of what I may call "home-truths", the dissembling side of human nature known especially to novelists, diplomatists, business people, and in some degree to everyone who spends part of his life outside an ivory tower. Elsewhere (Wisdom, 1966) I have suggested that a considerable part of psycho-analysis consists of what I call "field-work", mapping the ground of ordinary motives, e.g. finding out that men sometimes cover up jealousy with friendliness, the workings of ulterior motives that are known more or less to anyone who has witnessed the deliberations of an important committee. Psycho-analysts have no corner in the market of home-truths, but naturally have a more extensive and more detailed knowledge of them than most students of human nature, and they have doubtless added very greatly to such knowledge. This growth has attracted no attention from critics, partly because it is not systematically set out in books, and partly because new additions are known and are added to the body of our unwritten knowledge, in the same way as men of the world find out more about the deceptions of their fellows.

Testing Unconscious Interpretations

If this were all there were to psycho-analysis, there would be no controversy about it, and no differences of psychiatric opinion. Disagreement arises over explanations. In addition to home-truths that are "preconscious" or accessible to anyone, there is a whole body of similar discernments that psycho-analysts regard as unconscious, not accessible to men to discover in the daily traffic of their lives.

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