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Schachter, J. (1994). Abstinence and Neutrality: Development and Diverse Views. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:709-720.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:709-720

Abstinence and Neutrality: Development and Diverse Views

Joseph Schachter


Usually, Freud adopted a technical device for personal or practical reasons and only later formulated its theoretical basis. His conception of abstinence initially seemed designed to curb his own troublesome erotic countertransference. These speculations, while having no bearing on the clinical value of abstinence and related neutrality, do emphasise the necessity to assess their utility objectively, on the basis of clinical data. Diverse views of abstinence and neutrality persist in part because early inconsistencies in Freud's conceptions remain unresolved, and in part because these views are derived from the analyst's personality and character, are not based upon clinical data, but are buttressed by iteration. An approach to empirical assessment is suggested using multiple analyst-observers: (1) to develop reliable criteria for four analyst behaviours: abstinence, neutrality, gratification and suggestion; and (2) to evaluate enhancement or impairment of analytic work. Utilisation of this approach in the supervision of candidates would enhance analytic pedagogy and to some degree facilitate a research orientation in candidates.

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