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Paniagua, C. (2001). The Attraction of Topographical Technique. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(4):671-684.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(4):671-684

The Attraction of Topographical Technique

Cecilio Paniagua

The author argues that although the topographical model is useful for understanding certain psychological phenomena, its technical applications pose certain problems. The model's inherent tendency to bypass the analysand's ego capacities and mix his or her associations with the analyst's own make it less than adequate. There has never been a rapid evolution of psychoanalytic technique, and topographical and structural concepts have been applied in an unclear way. It is inaccurate to think that making the unconscious conscious is mostly characteristic of topographical technique, for the structural approach is a more comprehensive method for attaining this goal. The difficulties in transcending topographical technique seem to be related to certain historical inertias and irrational factors that make it especially attractive. Among these are the appeal of its simplicity, the gratification of epistemophilic and narcissistic tendencies, and the propitious ground for the analyst's projections that is provided by interpretations. The role of suggestion in topographical technique, its therapeutic effectiveness and its syntonicity are discussed and two brief clinical vignettes are presented. The author concludes that it is mainly because of its magnetic regressive features that this technique has not been superseded by the structural approach.

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