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(1989). Meeting of the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East. Psychoanal Q., 58:333-334.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:333-334

Meeting of the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East


Reconstruction—always an integral concept in psychoanalysis—has been the subject of renewed interest in recent years. Dr. Valenstein reminded us that psychoanalysis from its inception has attempted to uncover the genetic core of neurosis. First through hypnotic trance and later through free association, repression could be removed so that split-off memories of some psychic trauma could be recovered. The bringing to consciousness and the reintegration of these "hidden truths," usually concerning infantile sexuality, were expected to free the neurotic sufferer. Memories which could not be recovered because they belonged to the preverbal period had to be reconstructed, as Freud did in his analyses of the Rat Man and the Wolf Man. Dr. Phyllis Greenacre characterized reconstruction as the fitting together of recovered memories, with renovation or construction of what is unrecoverable; she saw this as a complex process involving both analyst and analysand. Dr. Valenstein stated that the reconstructed whole not only constitutes a coherent narrative, but holds within it some element of historical truth which is, as Freud put it, "a fragment of lost experience."

Dr. Valenstein attributed the renewed interest in reconstruction to the widening of the scope of psychoanalysis to include patients with borderline and narcissistic disorders which may originate in the preverbal or earliest verbal phases.

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