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Miller, J.P., Jr. (1990). The Corrective Emotional Experience: Reflections in Retrospect. Psychoanal. Inq., 10(3):373-388.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 10(3):373-388

The Corrective Emotional Experience: Reflections in Retrospect

Jule P. Miller, Jr., M.D.

The term corrective emotional experience, introduced by Franz Alexander, is used in many ways. Two of the most frequent ways are: as a concept with significant bearing on the controversies concerning the importance of insight versus experience and insight versus affect, and as a pejorative term which one may employ in analytic dispute. In what follows I discuss the concept and these uses of it.

Alexander introduced the concept in Psychoanalytic Therapy (Alexander & French, 1946):

In all forms of etiological psychotherapy, the basic therapeutic principle is the same: to reexpose the patient, under more favorable circumstances, to emotional situations which he could not handle in the past. The patient, in order to be helped, must undergo a corrective emotional experience suitable to repair the traumatic influence of previous experiences….

In the formulation of the dynamics of treatment, the usual tendency is to stress the repetition of the old conflict in the transference relationship and to emphasize the similarity of the old conflict situation to the transference situation.

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