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Shafii, M. (1973). Silence in the Service of Ego: Psychoanalytic Study of Meditation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 54:431-443.

(1973). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 54:431-443

Silence in the Service of Ego: Psychoanalytic Study of Meditation

Mohammad Shafii

Only silence before the Thou —silence of all tongues, silent patience in the undivided word that precedes the formed and vocal response—leaves the Thou free … MARTIN BUBER

Psychoanalysis and dynamic psychotherapies in the West emphasize verbalization in the therapeutic situation as a means of achieving understanding and insight of the self and its modus operandi. Quiescence and silence are often interpreted as resistance, defensive inhibition, guardedness and as a block to self-realization and integration. The significance of silence in the meditative situation for the development of internal peace and harmony has yet to be appreciated.

The experience of silence is a mysterious phenomenon. It is surprising to notice that very little has been written on this subject in the psychological and psychiatric literature. A few significant contributions to the psychological understanding and conceptualization of silence are found in the psychoanalytic literature.

In most of the psychoanalytic studies, silence is conceptualized as a form of inhibition, withholding, transference resistance and severe ego regression. Only a few authors have emphasized the integrative, creative and adaptive aspects of silence in the psychoanalytic situation.

I intend to discuss silence and quiescence in meditation as a temporary and controlled but deep regression in the service of ego. This controlled regression helps the individual reexperience union with his earlier love object on a preverbal level of psychosexual development.

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