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Siegman, A.J. (1956). The Psychological Economy of Déjà Raconté. Psychoanal Q., 25:83-86.

(1956). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 25:83-86

The Psychological Economy of Déjà Raconté

Alfred J. Siegman, M.D.

In a short paper on fausse reconnaissance, Freud (2) observed that material which the patient erroneously believed he had previously reported frequently, '… turns out to be memories of the greatest import to the analysis'. Such an erroneous belief has the clinical value of a reliable herald introducing new and significant communications. Although Freud found a similarity between this phenomenon and déjà vu, he was of the opinion that '… the explanation of this frequent occurrence appears to be that the patient really did on some previous occasion have the intention of giving this information … but that he was then prevented by resistance from carrying out his purpose, and afterwards confounded a recollection of his intention with a recollection of its performance'.

Treatment of a patient in which déjà raconté occurred persistently in conjunction with a specific set of defenses seems to shed further light on the economics and specificity of the phenomenon and its relationship to déjà vu.

An unmarried, male student of twenty-six came for therapy because of severe psychic paralysis. He had no friends, rarely left the house, slept until late in the morning, and spent a good portion of his time immersed in flagrant sado-masochistic fantasies, masturbation, biting his nails and picking his skin, watching television, and reading science fiction. Adequately intelligent, he had nevertheless twice quit school in which he was a poor student. He lived with his mother with whom he maintained an intensely close and ambivalent relationship.

Preliminary interviews with him revealed a markedly impaired and constricted ego that was not only incapable of coping with the demands of reality, of his libidinal impulses, and of his superego, but was in constant danger of being overwhelmed by them.

In treatment, he frequently felt 'blank' and 'distant'; in fact, he often fell asleep. Commonly he would either forget what he had said immediately after reporting it, or else he would lose the trend of his thoughts in the midst of communicating them.

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