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Anthi, P. (1989). Formal Defensive Aspects of Cognition and Modes of Thinking Exemplified by Freud's Case History of the Rat Man. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(1):22-37.

(1989). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 12(1):22-37

Formal Defensive Aspects of Cognition and Modes of Thinking Exemplified by Freud's Case History of the Rat Man

Per Roar Anthi

Our daily practice shows us how our analysands'manifest fantasies and thought processes are derived from compromise formation between unconscious instinctual drives on one hand and specific defensive processes on the other. There have, however, been few microanalytic studies of formal qualities of specific cognitive patterns and how these are related to specific kinds of psychopathology and defence processes.

Some seem to be rather sceptical of such studies and assert that this type of research is reminiscent of the neurologist's search for soft signs (Abend, Porder & Willick, 1983).

Although the data coming from the analysand's free associations are complex representations of instinctual drive desires and defensive activities, they nevertheless find expression as cognitive manifestations (Killingmo, 1980).

Analysis of the formal aspects of the analysand's psychological functioning has been restricted to examining how the defense mechanisms operate. We find it considerably more difficult to maintain an analytic attitude towards the various formal defensive aspects of the analysand's thought activity and cognition, i.e., how she/he perceives, remembers, judges and experiences. In my opinion, we need an analytic rationale which takes into consideration such aspects of the patient's characterology and cognition. We have a predilection for analysing the content of what is said.

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