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Brockbank, R. (1970). On the Analyst's Silence in Psychoanalysis: A Synthesis of Intrapsychic Content and Interpersonal Manifestations. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 51:457-464.

(1970). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 51:457-464

On the Analyst's Silence in Psychoanalysis: A Synthesis of Intrapsychic Content and Interpersonal Manifestations

Reed Brockbank


An attempt has been made to focus attention on the dynamic interchange between the interpersonal and the intrapsychic as it is highlighted in the silence of the patient and the silence of the analyst in the psychoanalytic situation. It has been suggested that the patient's silence cannot be understood if only the intrapsychic, libidinal and aggressive drives and transference fantasies of the patient are considered. The realistic, here and now, external object meaning of the analyst to the patient, the libidinal and aggressive intrapsychic conflict situation of the patient, and his transference fantasies, etc., must all three be seen in terms of their interaction with the same three dynamisms in the analyst in order to appreciate the manifestations of silence in the patient as well as in the analyst. The assumption that silence in the analyst is merely a technical pose adopted for the purpose of facilitating the development of the transference neurosis appears to the writer an underestimation of the dynamic interplay between the patient and analyst as outlined above. Furthermore, the suggested hypnotic effect on the patient of prolonged silences on the part of the analyst has been illustrated. This situation may lead to the not infrequently echoed critique that patients tend to produce in analysis whatever the orientation, commitments and expectations of his analyst may be. The implications of this in regard to the scientific position of psychoanalysis are beyond the scope of this paper. Most importantly, I have tried to outline and illustrate the effects on the patient of the silence of the analyst in terms of autosuggestive interpretations and counter-silence in the patient which may be based on transference distortion or identification with the silent analyst.

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