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Olinick, S.L. (1957). Questioning and Pain, Truth and Negation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:302-324.

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:302-324

Questioning and Pain, Truth and Negation

Stanley L. Olinick, M.D.

In a previous communication, I examined the use of questioning as it pertains to psychoanalytic technique (33). Further exploration of the psychology of the question, including its applicability to problems of technique, is here attempted; concerning this, my earlier paper may be regarded as preamble and pragmatic survey. The view will be taken that the question is a relatively unique phenomenon in the interrelationship of thought and language, of language and metapsychology. My thesis is that any act of questioning is an instance of the general "interrogation of nature" that has come to be the special prerogative of science and philosophy; that, in whatever context, questioning is an aggressive, and often violent act, inextricably linked with a seeking out of knowledge and truth, variously defined; that the discerning of this "truth" with the aid of the question is a painful process, against which the human organism has erected quite efficient defenses; and that, paradoxically, the question not infrequently is utilized to bar access to what might become known. In this connection, the relationship of questioning and the defense mechanism of negation will be examined.

The phrase, "psychology of the question, " is of course elliptic: what is intended is "the psychology of the person while he is in the act of questioning."

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