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Fenichel, O. (1943). The Psychical Experiences During the Shocks in Shock Therapy: Isidor Silbermann. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 179–200.. Psychoanal Q., 12:290.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: The Psychical Experiences During the Shocks in Shock Therapy: Isidor Silbermann. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 179–200.

(1943). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 12:290

The Psychical Experiences During the Shocks in Shock Therapy: Isidor Silbermann. Int. J. Psa., XXI, 1940, pp. 179–200.

Otto Fenichel

All psychoanalytic authors who have discussed shock therapy agree that the shock and its therapeutic effect correspond psychically to experiences of death and rebirth. Silbermann is of the same opinion, 'the essential features in both being the intense fear and experience of death, with the subsequent experience of rebirth and the associated euphoria.' In the insulin and triazol methods, a period of intense displeasure with feelings of anxiety and imminent annihilation (which is a regression) may be distinguished easily from a later period, coming after the coma or convulsions, when euphoria is experienced (which is a restitution). In the period of displeasure the patient is 'drawn from his narcissistic shelter by the cataclysm and forced to recognize reality; and so a partially normal ego is established, which reacts to the situation with all the anxiety which might be expected in a healthy person'. It is interesting to note to what a degree the conception of a 'rebirth' is effective. It can be observed that in perception, in the mastering of one's own body and in other experiences, archaic phases of development are relived. Silbermann is of the opinion that shock therapy should be combined with psychotherapy. 'The new ego we are trying to build up has to pass through all the stages of a normal childhood, and, just like a child's ego, it is at first hesitant, insecure in its object cathexis, very sensitive and especially in need of affection and encouragement.'

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Article Citation

Fenichel, O. (1943). The Psychical Experiences During the Shocks in Shock Therapy. Psychoanal. Q., 12:290

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