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Sousa, P.L. Pinheiro, R.T. Silva, R.A. (2003). Questions about questions: New views on an old prejudice. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 84(4):865-878.

(2003). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 84(4):865-878

Questions about questions: New views on an old prejudice

Paulo L.R. Sousa, Ricardo T. Pinheiro and Ricardo A. Silva

The belief that good analysts do not ask, and do not answer, questions is a still-living strange recommendation, transmitted throughout psychoanalytic generations. The authors have extensively reviewed electronic databases and technical texts. They found that interrogative acts are largely omitted from technical considerations, generating a prejudice that does not consider questions as proper psychoanalytic tools, and they discuss possible foundations for this belief. The authors believe that the few authors that have touched on this issue have done so in a non-systematic and frequently incomplete form. Linguistic philosophy presents questions as speech acts: actions that are able to alter the equilibrium of dialogical discourses. This view permits psychoanalysts to understand the potentiality of questions to introduce psychic change because they can, simultaneously, interfere in the self, in the other and in the intersubjective relationship. An internal state of curiosity is described as a component of the mind of the analyst. Based on the argument of the ubiquity of the state of curiosity of the analyst, the authors carried out a set of technical propositions, regarding, on the one hand, when questions are not to be introduced (for instance, in the presence of free associations) and, on the other hand, when they would be useful as expanding factors of the preconscious-conscious system. Considering psychoanalyses as experiences of curiosity, they emphasize that both the internal state of curiosity of the analyst, and the eventual verbal questions put to the patient are potentially positive factors for psychic change. The authors present several clinical vignettes.

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