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Weigert, E. (1954). The Importance of Flexibility in Psychoanalytic Technique. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 2:702-710.

(1954). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 2:702-710

The Importance of Flexibility in Psychoanalytic Technique

Edith Weigert, M.D.

Psychoanalytic science has grown out of an art, Freud's art of investigating and treating psychoneurotic patients. The scientific discoveries of the dynamic unconscious, of the steps of human libido development, of repression, regression, transference, repetition compulsion, etc., have in turn influenced the art of psychoanalytic practice. Psychoanalytic practitioners, the artists in this profession, remain the pioneering vanguard of psychoanalytic science. The scientists follow them, consolidating their intuitive discoveries and conquests. Such a vanguard has to be flexible and mobile, not to get frozen in what Freud called "the pseudo exactness of modern psychiatry."

The technique of psychoanalytic art is built on a set of rules or suggestions for practical procedures which cannot in the least cover the almost infinite variety of therapeutic situations arising in analysis, which Freud compared with the complex constellations of a chess game. Freud, in his papers on technique, as well as Ella Sharpe, Fenichel, Glover, Strachey and other early authors who wrote on technique have stressed the need for flexibility for various reasons:

1. Freud emphasized that his technical suggestions were suited to his individuality and that another personality might be led to a different attitude toward the patient and the therapeutic task. This remark shows Freud's respect for differences in technical style. The unconscious of the analyst is a receiving organ. His countertransference, lifted into consciousness, becomes an important source of information in the analytic process.

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