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Feldman, H. (1960). From Self-Analysis to Transference Character Traits. Psychoanal. Rev., 47A(1):63-66.

(1960). Psychoanalytic Review, 47A(1):63-66

From Self-Analysis to Transference Character Traits

Harold Feldman

The goal of every psychoanalytic treatment is self-analysis.

A patient once said the morale of analysis reminded him of what the famous socialist, Eugene Debs, once told an audience of workingmen. “I would not lead you into the Promised Land if I could,” he said, “because if I could lead you in, someone could lead you out.” It is because of this self-analytic goal that our therapy has all those features which are described, usually with some derogation, as “classical.”

To encourage this self-analysis, the therapist maintains a benevolent neutrality in the struggles of his patient. Silence is often met with silence, and every sharing of experience between patient and therapist outside of analysis itself is severely discouraged.

Yet, we know that the classical situation is not to be attained in therapy. Like Macbeth, patients “throw physic to the dogs; they'll have none of it,” when they are told that “the patient must minister to himself.” They will not associate freely and consciously. They insist on acting out their fantasies rather then recollecting them. And if they surrender their symptoms, it is partly because they have found the figure of their dreams in the person of the analyst, to whom they can be both “bad” and “good” with relative impunity. Consequently, we must make a distinction between psychoanalytic method and psychoanalytic technique. The first is self-analysis, the second is transference therapy.

Psychoanalytic method is outlined by Freud in The Interpretation of Dreams and The Psychopathology of Everyday Life. Its essentials are the relaxation of all critical judgment over the course of our thoughts, while keeping observant watch on them.

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