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Wilson, A. (1999). Analyzability Redux: From “Analyzable” to “Preparable for Analysis”. Ann. Psychoanal., 26:127-141.

(1999). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 26:127-141

Analyzability Redux: From “Analyzable” to “Preparable for Analysis”

Arnold Wilson, Ph.D.

The concept of analyzability is at the heart of the clinical enterprise, yet it is sorely in need of clarification, for few central concepts in psychoanalysis have been treated so cavalierly and carelessly as this one. In the aftermath of the changes sweeping over contemporary psychoanalysis, never again can analyzability be treated as a simple empirical manner, with clinical failures thought to result from personality deformations in the patient that are made apparent when faced by an analyst who strives to limit himself or herself to interpretive interventions. Analyzability is not a given and timeless fact of nature embedded within a person's character and history; it is a fluid concept pointing to a lived activity that every moment redefines itself. In a particular sense, the concept is also profoundly wedded to theory and hence cannot be regarded as theory free. The tiein with theory becomes more clear when one recognizes that analyzability is so broad and encompassing a concept that it frames any theoretical difference between competing approaches to psychoanalysis, because superior results with more patients are the clarion calls of virtually any push toward revision.

Analyzability is not an entity that can exist outside of context. In psychoanalysis, context always changes, as the prevailing emotional climate of the hour varies. Psychoanalysts who locate analyzability inside an analysand rather than as wedded to the shifting tides of multiple contexts have made an egregious error, one that is damaging in many ways—to the patient, not to mention to the field of psychoanalysis itself.

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