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Weiss, J. (1972). Continuing Research: The Modification of Defenses in Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 20:177-198.

(1972). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 20:177-198

Continuing Research: The Modification of Defenses in Psychoanalysis

Jules Weiss, M.D.

Emanuel Windholz introduced the report, which was based on a research project concerning changes in the defenses of the ego during psychoanalysis. He briefly described the history of the project, which grew out of a purely clinical study of the analysis of a patient with an obsessive-compulsive character disorder. The study provided some preliminary formulations about the patient's defenses and how they changed during the course of the analysis; the research grew out of an attempt to extend these findings and to evaluate them.

Joseph Weiss presented a paper, "The Emergence of New Themes in Analysis: A Contribution to the Psychoanalytic Theory of Therapy," opening with the question: How does a patient become able to bring forth a previously warded-off mental content? A basic theoretical idea that has guided the group's thinking about this question is that the ego plays a predominant role in this process, ordinarily bringing warded-off contents to the surface only when it is safe to do so. This idea helps to account for the observation that the neurotic patient is not ordinarily overwhelmed, and hence traumatized, by the emergence of warded-off contents.

It is only in unusual circumstances in the analysis of a neurotic patient that the warded-off impulse overwhelms the ego defense and breaks through to the surface. When this does occur, the emergence of the impulse is more apt to be traumatic and disruptive than therapeutic. The patient is apt to rerepress the impulse as soon as he can, or, if he cannot repress it, he may retain it in consciousness as part of a symptom; or he may act it out.

An

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