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Boesky, D. (1989). The Questions and Curiosity of the Psychoanalyst. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 37:579-603.

(1989). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 37:579-603

The Questions and Curiosity of the Psychoanalyst

Dale Boesky, M.D.


Questions the analyst asks of the patient are a powerful but neglected aspect of the theory of psychoanalytic technique. Their importance resides in their dynamic impact on the psychic equilibrium of the patient because of their ability to destabilize existing compromise formations. A clinical vignette illustrates the view that the linguistic shift from other modes of discourse to the spoken question heralds a less visible parallel shift in the psychic equilibrium of either the psychoanalyst or patient. There is no more and no less complexity to questions than to any other communication by either analyst or patient. For that reason there can be no systematic classification of questions in the clinical psychoanalytic situation, just as there can be no definitive taxonomy of psychoanalytic discourse. It makes no sense to reduce the enormous diversity and range of all the questions the analyst asks to the simple dichotomy of good or bad for the analysis. Questions are the emblem of the analyst's mode of inquiry; they can further the development of self-observation, which is such an important concomitant, cause, and consequence of structural change.

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