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Lindon, J.A. (1994). Gratification and Provision in Psychoanalysis Should We Get Rid of “The Rule of Abstinence”?. Psychoanal. Dial., 4(4):549-582.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 4(4):549-582

Gratification and Provision in Psychoanalysis Should We Get Rid of “The Rule of Abstinence”? Related Papers

John A. Lindon, M.D., Ph.D.

My thesis is that the rule of abstinence, which is currently taught in technique seminars and defended as integral to developing a psychoanalytic process, in fact, interferes with psychoanalysis and should be replaced with the concept of optimal provision. The rule did not accomplish Freud's original aim for it, which was to be the motivating force impelling the patient to work analytically. Not only is it unnecessary, but it has been detrimental: skewing, disrupting, and prolonging analysis. In addition, much is not analyzed that could have been except for the rule of abstinence, which essentially closes off whole areas from analysis.

Despite the emphasis on deprivation or non-gratification, there is much provision and gratification in traditional analysis, as well as in all theoretical models of analysis. I demonstrate that unintended gratifications or provisions are supplied in even the most classical analysis. I review the literature and show that we are talking about degrees of provision, gratification, or both all the time. Logically, then, we should determine what is the optimal provision, that is, that which facilitates and does not obstruct the analysis. Much clinical material is presented to illustrate provisions that facilitate the analysis and seeming-provisions


Dr. Lindon is Supervising and Training Analyst and Founding Member, Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Los Angeles, California; Supervising and Training Analyst and Past President, Southern California Psychoanalytic Institute; and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, UCLA School of Medicine.

A earlier version of this paper was presented at the January 27, 1993 Scientific Meeting of the Institute of Contemporary Psychoanalysis and at the 16th Annual Conference on the Psychology of the Self, Toronto, Canada, October 28-31, 1993.

I am grateful to Drs. Louis Breger, Arthur Malin, Sheila Namir, Richard Rosenstein, and Robert Stolorow for their helpful critiques of an earlier version of this paper.

© 1994 The Analytic Press

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that obstruct. We should abandon the rule of abstinence and should replace it with the concept of optimal provision.

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