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Olinick, S.L. (1954). Some Considerations of the Use of Questioning as a Psychoanalytic Technique. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:57-66.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:57-66

Some Considerations of the Use of Questioning as a Psychoanalytic Technique

Stanley L. Olinick, M.D.

Of the technical interventions available to the psychoanalyst, perhaps none has been more taken for granted and less subjected to careful scrutiny than has questioning. It has been pointed out that nevertheless, as a therapeutic tool it is basic and indispensable, on a par with interpretation, though essentially different from interpretation (Eissler, 3).

In part, this incurious attitude may be due to the difficulties inherent in conceptualizing so commonplace a mode of communication: the commonplace blends as a figure into its own ground. In part, too, one may speculate whether there is not a general mistrust of a technique potentially so "active" as to call forth associations of cross-examination and the doctor game of children. The act of questioning is predicated on a certain reluctance or passivity on the part of the person questioned, else the information would have been volunteered. It may also, however, be predicated on the impatience and curiosity of the questioner. We should therefore expect to find in the psychology of questioning as a psychoanalytic technique much in common with the technique of managing the resistance, and much that is related to the problem of countertransference.

Freud has pointed out the analyst's basic functions: to listen, to reconstruct, and to interpret (6), (8).

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