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Arlow, J.A. (1997). Comments on the Topic. J. Clin. Psychoanal., 6(3):299-307.

(1997). Journal of Clinical Psychoanalysis, 6(3):299-307

Comments on the Topic Related Papers

Jacob A. Arlow, M.D.

The participants in this panel have been charged to focus on the evolution of their psychoanalytic technique as it has interacted with their conceptualization of the psychoanalytic relationship over the years of their clinical experience, and it is toward this specific goal that I have directed my thoughts.

My psychoanalytic training began in the early 1940s when ego psychology was first beginning to be applied to the clinical situation. It was not until the final year in training that we read Anna Freud's The Ego and the Mechanisms of Defense (1936) and Hartmann's Ego Psychology and the Problem of Adaptation (1938). The only instruction in technique articulated the views expressed in Freud's classical papers on that subject.

Obviously principles of technique must correlate with the theory of pathogenesis. The theory of pathogenesis which we were taught was based on the Studies on Hysteria (1893-1895). Since psychopathology was felt to result from the effects of a repressed memory and its concomitant affect, acting like a foreign body in the psychic apparatus, the goal of treatment was to get the patient to recall the repressed memory. Accordingly, we tended to sit by very patiently, doing very little, while the analysand associated freely, in the hope that somehow the repressed memory or an associated screen memory would pop out from the unconscious. We aimed to help the patient overcome the infantile amnesia and, if you refer to one of Freud's last papers, “Constructions in Psychoanalysis(1937), you will find that he subscribed to this principle to the very end of his career.

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