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Hubback, J. (1974). Notes on Manipulation, Activity and Handling. J. Anal. Psychol., 19(2):182-191.

(1974). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 19(2):182-191

Notes on Manipulation, Activity and Handling

Judith Hubback, M.A.


Descriptions abound of interactions between analysts and their patients, and much light has been thrown from many angles on what went on in particular sessions, in particular analyses, and in analysis in general. Despite the vast literature, additions can still be made to it because the nature of analysis itself is protean and not merely repetitive. General features, particular ones and changing ones all need research. In Principles of practical psychotherapy, Jung wrote: ‘The individual signifies nothing in comparison with the universal, and the universal signifies nothing in comparison with the individual. There are, as we all know, no universal elephants, only individual elephants. But if a generality, a constant plurality, of elephants did not exist, a single individual elephant would be exceedingly improbable (JUNG 8, p. 5).

My aim here is to join the discussion, on methods of work in analysis which has been going on (though not always publicly), ever since Freud and Jung started to diverge. It is a discussion which carries on pari passu with the examination of content and process. At intervals it becomes possible for progress in the study of those two factors to be linked with attention given to method. And at the moment it is worth bringing out that recent work on countertransference (e.g. RACKER (14), FORDHAM (2, 3), FRANZ (4), KADINSKY (9), PLAUT (12, 13), LAMBERT (10)) can be related to the direct examination both of method and the psychology of method. Method in these notes is being considered in the light of patient-analyst interaction, in the light of transference and countertransference, and on the basis of the view that the most effective tool we have is our all-round understanding of those interactions.

I intend to draw attention to the activities of analysts for which the word handling is suitable, and is in fact often chosen by patients themselves, and to the activities of patients easily called manipulation. Manipulation is a term which has a pejorative flavour: we try not to be manipulated, even if we also like to see ourselves as capable of being adaptive and flexible.

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