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Rossi, P.L. (2013). The Real Relationship: Method or Technique?. Ital. Psychoanal. Annu., 7:117-130.

(2013). The Italian Psychoanalytic Annual, 7:117-130


The Real Relationship: Method or Technique? Language Translation

Pier Luigi Rossi

At a certain moment, after the Second World War, a definition of «psycho-analysis» appeared in the IPA statute that would seem to reflect a sort of radical reversal of what Freud had established in the 1920s. Giovanni Vassalli, a Zurich analyst, has recently brought this to our attention on comparing article 1 of the IPA statute with Freud's well-known Junktim (Vassalli, 2008).

His observation is not, in actual fact, anything new - it had already been pointed out by the Lacanian analyst Safouan in 1983 for example - but appears in a most appropriate moment since today we are pressed to rethink the keystones of Freudian psychoanalysis, by which I mean the method, and compare them with our present-day difficulties.

In addition there is now a different way of understanding Freud's reasoning. Today, study of his unpublished material, together with Laplanche's lesson in his Problematique, encourages us to read with different eyes what should already have been known to us.

Thus, in Freud's Junktim we find that «psycho-analysis is the name (1) of a procedure for the investigation of mental processes which are almost inaccessible in any other way, (2) of a method (based upon that investigation) for the treatment of neurotic disorders and (3) of a collection of psychological information obtained along those lines, which is gradually being accumulated into a new scientific discipline» (Freud, 1922, 235).

Instead, in the IPA statute's new article, the term «psychoanalysis» is defined in the first place as a theory of the structure and function of personality, the application of this theory to other fields of knowledge, and lastly its application to therapeutic techniques (Safouan, 1983).

As we can see the difference is considerable because, in the new definition, theory (Freud's «scientific discipline») now occupies first place, with psychic treatment deriving from this in the form of a deductive technique. Method (the «procedure») has been ousted.

And so the circular flow between the three points of the Junktim no longer exists.


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