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Bleichmar, H. (2004). Making conscious the unconscious in order to modify unconscious processing: Some mechanisms of therapeutic change. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(6):1379-1400.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(6):1379-1400

Making conscious the unconscious in order to modify unconscious processing: Some mechanisms of therapeutic change

Hugo Bleichmar

This paper examines some of the mechanisms through which interpretation aimed primarily at increasing conscious awareness can nonetheless produce unconscious changes, the latter being deemed the basic aim of psychoanalysis. The concept of valency or motivational weight of the interpretation is proposed to assess which forces of the various motivational systems the interpretation mobilizes (hetero/self preservation, sensual/sexual, attachment, narcissistic, psychobiological regulation etc.), on which of the above-mentioned systems interpretation relies, and which would oppose therapeutic intervention and why. Certain conditions are also analyzed that could explain the so-called ‘change through the analytic relationship’, pointing out that, despite the major differences between this form of change and change through interpretation, both of them would share certain mechanisms. This conclusion leads to the need to qualify the idea that interpretation would be exclusively aimed at declarative memory, with no effects upon procedural memory. The paper examines the potential consequences for therapeutic techniques derived from recent findings in neuroscience on so-called labile state memory, and proposes the coupling of experiences as one of the analytical instruments used for therapeutic change. A clinical vignette is included to illustrate some of the theoretical and technical aspects considered.

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