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Jelliffe, S.E. (1915). Technique of Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 2(3):286-296.

(1915). Psychoanalytic Review, 2(3):286-296

Technique of Psychoanalysis

Smith Ely Jelliffe

Steckel has used the phrase, “infantile criminal,” to express this same period of the infantile development. The analyst should bear both of these expressions, “infantile perversions” and “infantile criminal,” in mind, but he should not voice them. It does very little service in the initial stage's of an analysis to tell the patient about his “perverse” or “criminal” tendencies. He will not understand, because in the early stages of analysis the patient is constantly thinking in conscious terms. He is as yet unacquainted with unconscious logic. It is only when the significance of unconscious activities get firmly fixed in the patient's mind that the analyst can utilize these terms to advantage. For this reason, and also because perhaps it represents a better mode of approach, it has been my habit to dwell less upon the “perversion” and more upon the evolution of the sense of power that goes on in the patient as he builds up values on the basis of his primary pleasure-receiving areas. After all the infantile criminal is only seeking for an expression of power. He is not a criminal until that power impulse forces him to a conflict with reality.

The striving for power is the most important symbol to keep in mind, because it will be seen that practically all the symbolizations which are pictured by the unconscious are being utilized in this way. Protagoras in the dialogue already quoted said that “we think alike concerning those things which are necessary for life.” He is speaking of conscious thinking. This uniformity in unconscious impulse is even more striking. Inasmuch as breathing has satisfied oxygen needs, which oxygen-need satisfaction enables the body to live, breathing and all of the necessary muscular adaptations (respiratory libido in the psychoanalytic sense) become symbols of obtaining power in the psyche.

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