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Scharfman, M.A. Blacker, K.H. (1981). Insight: Clinical Conceptualizations. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 29:659-671.

(1981). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 29:659-671

Insight: Clinical Conceptualizations

Melvin A. Scharfman, M.D. and K. H. Blacker, M.D.

Scharfman introduced the panel by stating that insight is a concept closely associated with psychoanalysis. Indeed, insight has been viewed as a specific goal of the psychoanalytic process. "Psychoanalysis has been distinguished from other forms of psychotherapy in that it places a special value on the achievement of insight." He offered several definitions of insight. In the general sense, insight refers to the "grasp of intuitive understanding of an inner functioning of a thing or a fact" (for example, insight into how a machine works or into a mathematical function). In psychiatry, insight refers to an individual's subjective awareness of emotional illness. In psychology, insight includes the idea of a sudden awareness of the solutions in the understanding of one's self, the "aha" phenomenon. The Glossary of Psychoanalytic Terms defines insight as: "The subjective experience or knowledge acquired during psychoanalysis of previously unconscious, pathogenic content and conflictinsight differs from other cognitive understanding in that it cannot occur without being preceded by dynamic changes leading to the weakening of resistance and the release of energies."


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