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Brenman, E. (1980). The Value of Reconstruction in Adult Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 61:53-60.

(1980). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 61:53-60

The Value of Reconstruction in Adult Psychoanalysis

Eric Brenman

It is inherent in man to seek knowledge, to enquire and discover. It seems important for him to pursue enquiry about his origins, to find his roots; he needs roots and objects, he cannot function alone. To my mind, knowing his background provides him with a sense of continuity and meaning. Only if he feels he belongs can he achieve his own identity. Reconstruction is of value as a means of rediscovering roots, past objects and lost parts of the self.

In man's ambivalence, however, he has a love–hate relationship with the knowledge of the truth, as he does with all relationships, and he may shape the truth, past and present, at the service of his wishes, loves, hates and defences.

History can be doctored for infinite reasons, and those that attempt to reconstruct the past are subject to these vicissitudes; this applies to analyst and analysand. Less important truths may obscure more important ones: Who ultimately can determine the priority of specific truths?

Freud in 1937, late in his career, gave this example of reconstruction—'Up to your nth year you regarded yourself as the sole possessor of your mother, then came another baby and brought grave disillusionment. Your mother left you for some time and even after her reappearance she was never devoted to you exclusively. Your feelings towards your mother became ambivalent, your father gained a new importance for you …'. Earlier psychoanalytical theories had stressed the relationship with the father as central and reconstructions were made accordingly.

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