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Mitchell, S.A. (2001). No Search or Getting Down to Business?. Psychoanal Q., 70(1):183-199.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 70(1):183-199

No Search or Getting Down to Business?

Stephen A. Mitchell, Ph.D.

Pretty much from the beginning, from my days in psychoanalytic training, I found myself thinking about goals in psychoanalysis along two different, seemingly contradictory lines. They have a complex relationship to each other, and each has undergone some changes and development over the years.

The “No-Search” Concept

The first approach is an adaptation of the “classical” mode of psychoanalysis, as I came to understand it. An essential property of psychoanalysis as a treatment has always been that it is “nondirective,” a quality that distinguishes it from other types of therapies which, in their focal directedness, are more limited. It was thought crucial that the analyst not interfere with the freedom of the patient's free associations, so that the latter's central unconscious conflicts might manifest themselves through derivatives. This noninterference, which makes analysis “deeper” than other treatments, was ultimately a means to an end. The end was the exposure, interpretation, and finally the transformation of specific, central yet unconscious, infantile sexual and aggressive conflicts at their major points of fixation.

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