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Sandler, J. Sandler, A. (1994). The Past Unconscious and the Present Unconscious: A Contribution to a Technical Frame of Reference. Psychoanal. St. Child, 49:278-292.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 49:278-292

The Past Unconscious and the Present Unconscious: A Contribution to a Technical Frame of Reference

Joseph Sandler, Ph.D., M.D. and Anne-Marie Sandler

Difficulties inherent in the concept of the unconscious are considered, and a formulation is proposed as a contribution to the theory of psychoanalytic technique. The concepts of the past unconscious and the present unconscious are described, each having its own type of functional organization. The past unconscious can be regarded as acting like a dynamic “template,” a structuring organization that gives form to current wishes or wishful fantasies, which are then further modified in the present unconscious before gaining access to consciousness. Finally, the implications of the frame of reference for interpretation, construction, and reconstruction in analysis are described.

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