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Wachtel, P.L. DeMichele, A. (1998). Unconscious Plan or Unconscious Conflict?: Commentary on Joseph Weiss's Paper. Psychoanal. Dial., 8(3):429-442.

(1998). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 8(3):429-442

Unconscious Plan or Unconscious Conflict?: Commentary on Joseph Weiss's Paper Related Papers

Paul L. Wachtel, Ph.D. and Annette DeMichele, J.D.

The development of psychoanalysis as a discipline has been uneven. Advances in theory have not always been matched by advances in technique, and advances in one aspect of theory have not necessarily reverberated thoroughly throughout the body of psychoanalytic thought. In important ways, addressing this dissociation of influence is at the heart of the efforts to reform and reformulate a psychoanalytic approach to therapy undertaken by Weiss, Sampson, and the Mount Zion Psychotherapy Research Group (1986). Weiss's starting point is in the distinction between Freud's 1911-1915 theory and the ego psychology that evolved a decade later. He argues that the influence of the early theory persists, despite its having been superseded by Freud's later insights into mental functioning, and that many of the important developments of Freud's most mature theorizing still are insufficiently incorporated into the way analysts think about the therapeutic process. As a consequence, the element of resistance in the patient's behavior and his or her efforts to seek infantile gratification are exaggerated, and more progressive motivations and more mature and reality-oriented cognitive functioning are minimized.

We will return to this distinction on Weiss's part, but we begin with another divergence between “old” and “new” psychoanalysis that we believe bears equally significantly on the technical and theoretical changes Weiss proposes.

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