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Riesenberg-Malcolm, R. (1995). The Three ‘W's: What, Where And When: The Rationale Of Interpretation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:447-456.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:447-456

The Three ‘W's: What, Where And When: The Rationale Of Interpretation

Ruth Riesenberg-Malcolm

The author considers the work of interpreting to be a continuous diagnostic process in which the analyst uses both emotional and intellectual activity. In this paper she discusses three fundamental factors in the mind of the analyst when making interpretations—‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘when’. In ‘What’ she speaks of the transference relationship as the central core of the interpretation. She understands the transference as an expression of past internal object relationships that for some reason could not develop, and that repeat themselves with their specific affects, anxieties and defences in the patient-analyst relationship. In ‘Where’ she examines where the patient feels the problem resides: with the analyst or with himself. This depends on the patient's level of functioning. If he is functioning predominantly in a paranoid-schizoid level, the use of projective mechanisms will be considerable and interpretations should be centred in the analyst. When the mode of functioning corresponds mainly to depressive-position level, the patient can feel the problems as his; therefore interpretations should be centred on him. Finally, in ‘When’ the author addresses herself to the factor(s) that help the analyst to integrate the different elements of the patient's communication into a new formulation. A whole session from the analysis of a patient is fully reported and used to illustrate and argue the views espoused in the paper.

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