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Lichtenberg, J.D. (1983). A Clinical Illustration of Construction and Reconstruction in the Analysis of an Adult. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(2):279-340.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(2):279-340

A Clinical Illustration of Construction and Reconstruction in the Analysis of an Adult

Joseph D. Lichtenberg, M.D.

Success in analysis is the outcome of a process that takes place separately but interdependently in analyst and analysand. When we consider constructions, that is, those integrations, hypotheses, and formulations that the analyst forms as he listens empathically to the patient's associations, we focus primarily on the analyst's mode of functioning. When we consider reconstructions, that is, the integrations, hypotheses, and formulations about events and their meaning, which is unavailable to conscious awareness, we focus on a process of interactive conceptual give-and-take between analyst and analysand.

I have selected three constructions out of the many that I formed in my mind during the four-year analysis of an attractive married woman in her thirties. Each of these constructions was followed by analytic work on the part of the patient and myself, involving interpretation and reconstruction. The interpretations illuminated the analytic exchange, its defensive or conflictual nature in the immediate present; the reconstructions brought to light the significance of events in the past that, although lost to awareness, were adversely influencing the patient's current behavior and attitudes.

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