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Southwood, H.M. (1975). Letters to the Editor. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:129-132.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:129-132

Letters to the Editor

H. M. Southwood


The paper by J. Strachey on 'The Nature of the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis, ' first published in 1934, is still important today for the great clarification it gave to us in our understanding of how psychoanalysis works. However, Strachey, like any thinker, could only work in the context of the concepts available to him, and it is inevitable, therefore, as well as being highly desirable, that, with the development of new insights and new ways of understanding, a classic paper such as this should be subject to periodic reassessment. The recent paper by Rosenfeld (1972) wherein he discusses Strachey's views and also those of various other analysts is another attempt to increase our knowledge of what goes on in psychoanalysis and to identify what is important therapeutically.

However, I do not think Rosenfeld has succeeded in much more than illustrating the confusions and difficulties that arise when one attempts to understand the analytic process while using only the traditional 'one-body' model. While it is thoroughly proper to use this model to theorize about the changes that occur in the individual during the course of his psychoanalysis, if we are going to understand how these changes are brought about by analysis and what goes on between analyst and patient, we must find another theoretical model, as I have pointed out in a recent paper (1974).

The difficulties arise because in a 'one-body' psychology other people are only 'objects' and there is no theoretical place for activity on the part of these objects.

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