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Jelliffe, S.E. (1913). The Technique of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 1(1):63-75.

(1913). Psychoanalytic Review, 1(1):63-75

The Technique of Psychoanalysis

Smith Ely Jelliffe, M.D., Ph.D.


The traveller in a foreign land who keeps to the main highway needs no guide. He does not even have to know the language of the country for a judiciously distributed pour boire will put him in touch with all the more common requirements of the situation.

With his Baedeker in hand, he may even wander about in strange surroundings oblivious to the unknown claque about him and return to his haven of safety with an outline of the topography of the city, its bricks and mortar, and possibly its trolley cars.

But were he to go into the by-ways, were he to reach out for an understanding of the rich life that is actually being lived about him, he is more or less shut off, and deaf and dumb must needs grope about if without knowledge of the language of the country.

The doctor of medicine is in some such a position—his unexplored countries come to him, however, rather than his going to them. His Baedekers—Gray, Osier, and perhaps a rich library, furnishing the details of many complicated structures—lead him through the more frequented paths of disease processes, but, like the real traveller he not infrequently finds himself lost in unexplored territory. A new language strikes his ear at every specialistic frontier that he would pass; a rich and apparently hopeless terminology has to be mastered if he would travel in new fields, and if he would know what is going on over the boundary he must make it a part of himself.

It is of no service to him to rationalize his indolence by calling this speech new-fangled, absurd or unnecessary. To shut his eyes and ears to these new languages, refusing to learn them, only hampers himself, and the stream of active intelligence goes on leaving him in an eddy of his own isolation.

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