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Lehrman, N.S. (1961). The Unconscious Wish: An Operational Examination. Am. J. Psychoanal., 21(1):85-91.

(1961). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 21(1):85-91

The Unconscious Wish: An Operational Examination

N. S. Lehrman, M.D.

The concept of the unconscious wish is one of the cornerstones of psychoanalysis. The purpose of this paper is to attempt to extract, refine, and define its therapeutically valuable core.

The Psychiatric Advance Accomplished by the Unconscious Wish Concept

In contrast to the earlier explanations of irrationality by mystical or neuropathological means, Freud for the first time showed that neurotic irrationality is the result of past pain. His genius was the first to demonstrate that unconscious processes act as specific bridges of reminiscence between this past pain and present irrationality. Freud's concept of specific unconscious mental bridges made possible the first scientific explanation of dreams, symptomatology, and other previously inexplicable phenomena.

Recognizing that the quasi-purposeful quality of many of these unconscious processes resembled consciousness in many ways, Freud proposed that the specific unconscious processes were actually unconscious wishes, analogous to those of consciousness. This conceptualization has proved to be of tremendous value in helping to relieve the psychotic and to liberate the neurotic. It has brought new hope to the sufferers from inhibition.

The concept of unconscious wishing has been valuable in two different ways: first, in generally demonstrating that a neurodynamic bridge always exists between compulsive irrationality in the present and particular pain in the past, and, second, in specifically helping us to determine the exact location of the bridge itself.

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