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Kohut, H. (1957). Clinical and Theoretical Aspects of Resistance. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 5:548-555.

(1957). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 5:548-555

Clinical and Theoretical Aspects of Resistance

Heinz Kohut, M.D.

Theoretical Aspects

A number of participants touched on questions of terminology. What is resistance? Can it be clearly defined? How do we go about differentiating it cleanly from the concept of defense? Must we, properly, speak of resistance only in the clinical sense, as resistance to the progress of psychoanalytic therapy; or should we look upon it as being present also outside of the therapeutic situation, as a psychological force either co-extensive with the defenses or in addition to them?

There was apparently unanimity among those who expressed themselves about it that Freud's early definition (" whatever interrupts the progress of analytic work is resistance ") was not useful because of its broadness. [The current rejection of Freud's statement is perhaps due to the fact that it seemed to connote that all interference with analysis is endopsychically determined Freud may, however, have also wished to imply that the term resistance has a more pragmatic meaning that cannot be as fully defined from the metapsychological point of view as the concept of defense (H. K.).]

Many questions were thus raised, implicitly and explicitly, by the discussants, and, as may be expected, neither was full agreement reached nor did clear-cut opposing viewpoints emerge from the various presentations. And while, for example, different opinions concerning the definition of resistance were expressed, they can hardly be said to have become an issue; and even those who, in theory, argued for a clear differentiation between resistance and defense would often slip inadvertently from a discussion of resistances into a discourse on individual defense mechanisms or on specific anxieties that one or the other defense resistance was meant to avert.

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