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Wallerstein, R. Lilleskov, R.K. (1977). Nonverbal Aspects of Child and Adult Psychoanalysis. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 25:693-705.

(1977). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 25:693-705

Nonverbal Aspects of Child and Adult Psychoanalysis

Robert Wallerstein, M.D. and Roy K. Lilleskov, M.D.

Dr. Robert Wallerstein, after welcoming the audience and introducing the panelists, observed that adult analysis had originated as a "talking cure" and child analysis began with an emphasis on unraveling the meaning of play. Yet the dichotomy was not distinct because in child analysis the focus on nonverbal behavior was as a mode of access and understanding, necessitated by the immaturity of the child and meant to be converted to verbalization in order to promote insight. And though Freud stressed the resistance aspect of repetition of behavior in his technical papers, he was from the start acutely mindful of the nonverbal as an avenue to understanding. Reviewing the history of focused psychoanalytic concern with nonverbal behavior as communication, Wallerstein cited the early work of Wilhelm Reich on character armor, Felix Deutsch on what he called analytic posturology, and Meyer Zeligs who introduced the concept of acting in. He noted the work of researchers, such as Birdwhistell and Scheflen, who have published studies including film analyses of typical repetitive series of nonverbal behaviors occurring during phases of the psychotherapeutic hour and regularly associated with specific themes and affects. Jacobs, more recently, turned his attention to the posture, gestures, and bodily movements of the analyst as communicative cues to empathic understanding of the patient, as well as cues to blocking countertransferences in the analyst.


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