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Sandler, J. (1992). Reflections on Developments in the Theory of Psychoanalytic Technique. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 73:189-198.

(1992). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 73:189-198

Reflections on Developments in the Theory of Psychoanalytic Technique

Joseph Sandler

For the 1987 Congress of the IPA, held in Montreal, the then President—and now our Past President—Robert Wallerstein, chose the topic 'Analysis terminable and interminable: 50 years later', and gave as his Presidential Address a paper entitled 'One psychoanalysis or many?' As events have shown, both the topic of that Congress and the theme of Wallerstein's address were inspired choices, which set the stage for what was to be the next step in a process, i.e. his choice of topic for the 1989 Rome Congress of 'Common ground in psychoanalysis: clinical aims and process'. It was therefore natural to select, for the present Congress, the topic of 'Psychic change: developments in the theory of psychoanalytic technique'. During this Congress we have been treated to a wealth of presentations and discussions, and we will have much to take away and digest. The success of our meetings makes it a particular privilege to give the opening presentation in this plenary session.

In his introduction to the prepublished papers, Harold Blum (1991) pointed out that 'All the goals of clinical analysis converge in psychic change whether conceptualized in restoring the ego to optimal function, structural change, or personality reorganization …' He posed the questions of how, why and when change occurs, and what the technical principles and specific technical agents of change are, and went on to comment:

Further considerations lead to the theory of technique. What are the underlying assumptions and models that guide the analyst's listening, observing, and organizing the analytic data? No analyst can approach the analytic situation without some theoretical notions and convictions, while, at the same time, every analysis is a potentially new learning experience for the analyst as well as the patient.

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