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Friedman, L. Kelly, K. (1994). K. R. Eissler's (1953) "The Effect of the Structure of the Ego on Psychoanalytic Technique". J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 42:875-882.

(1994). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 42:875-882

K. R. Eissler's (1953) "The Effect of the Structure of the Ego on Psychoanalytic Technique"

Lawrence Friedman, M.D. and Kevin Kelly, M.D.

THIS PANEL DISCUSSION marked the fortieth anniversary of one of the best-known "classic" papers in the psychoanalytic literature, Eissler's (1953) "The Effect of the Structure of the Ego on Psychoanalytic Technique." However, as Dr. Friedman observed in his Introduction, this title does not include the central term by which the paper has exerted its profound influence on generations of analysts, for it was here that the concept of "parameters" was introduced. Friedman referred briefly to the variety of informal uses the term has acquired: as reassurance or self-chastisement for the analyst, as threat or indulgence for the analysand. He described it as "a brilliant metaphor for the way the world of ideas intersects with the world of action," and then summarized Eissler's discussion of the concept, focusing on the tension between the ideal of "basic model technique" and the need to act differently in situations where interpretation alone is ineffective. Eissler's basic model technique consists of pure interpretation, communicating neutral cognitive insight, free of affective taint and of the analyst's personal influence, and promoting the analysand's autonomy. Friedman paraphrased Eissler's definition of a parameter as a compromise involving temporary use of personal influence when interpretation alone is not enough, and reviewed Eissler's argument that the need to use parameters gives a better measure of the health of the ego than either diagnosis or symptoms provide. He then posed a series of questions to the panel, centering on what modern analysts would say about ideal technique, whether it is useful to have such an ideal at all, and whether countertransference can be eliminated as neatly as it is in Eissler's model.

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