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Karush, A. (1967). Working Through. Psychoanal Q., 36:497-531.

(1967). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 36:497-531

Working Through

Aaron Karush, M.D.


After many years it is still difficult to explain the relationship of working through to various phases of the analytic process. Many psychoanalytic concepts, such as identification (18), sublimation (19), ego strength (13), perception, and psychic representation (12), which clinical experience has shown to be vague or ambiguous, have recently been redefined and restudied. Formerly efforts were made to preserve intact the assumptions and conceptualizations of instinct theory and of the related theory of psychoanalytic therapy, but now, in spite of a good deal of opposition, some hypotheses and concepts about instincts and about polarizing energies are being amended to fit the empirical needs of ego psychology and structural theory. Working through seems to need this kind of re-evaluation. Here I will point out aspects of the process of working through that have in the past either been dismissed entirely or regarded as of minor significance.

Several questions arise. 1. What do we mean by working through in the structural sense? And how is working through to be differentiated from the analytic process as a whole? 2. What is the relation between working through and the transference? To what extent does working through depend on dissolution of the transference? 3. Is working through a special instance of the rational aspects of learning? And conversely, are there nonrational aspects of the process of working through? 4. What part does interpretation play in working through? 5.

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