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Sedler, M.J. (1983). Freud's Concept of Working Through. Psychoanal Q., 52:73-98.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 52:73-98

Freud's Concept of Working Through

Mark J. Sedler, M.D.


Of all Freud's concepts, working through most completely characterizes the role of the patient in analysis. Conceived as the labor of the patient, rather than as an analytic technique, working through consists of two phases: recognizing resistances (insight) and overcoming resistances (change). In this paper these achievements are explicated in terms of the collaborative, yet conflicting, functions of remembering and repeating. A metapsychological consideration of the resistances in question leads to the system of concepts defined by id-resistance, the compulsion to repeat, and the death instinct. Finally, the concept of working through gives evidence for the idea of a will to recovery which, in the psychoanalytic situation, becomes a will to remember.

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