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Shane, M. Shane, E. (1995). Commentaries. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 43:372-377.

(1995). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 43:372-377


Morton Shane and Estelle Shane

John Gedo conceptualizes working through in neurophysiological terms—or, to use Rubenstein's apt phrase (1976), protoneuro-physiological terms—as a reorganization of neural networks. Whether we in psychoanalysis have progressed far enough in the integration of mind and brain to be satisfied with such a statement as truly explanatory of the working through concept remains to be seen, but what we can say now is that Gedo's attempt to achieve theoretical congruence with accepted brain physiology, and cognitive science as well, is a laudatory effort to achieve an external coherence (Strenger, 1991) with ancillary scientific fields.

Gedo strongly emphasizes that the working through process is essentially developmental, the development being conceptualized as learning to “think straight,” in such a way that the analysand can potentially solve life's problems. This enhanced capacity to think includes both an “expansion of referential activity,” enabling the analysand to interpret for him- or herself the meanings of personal experience, and the “mastery of affective intensities,” whereby the analysand can recognize and resolve conflictual feeling states that are potentially overwhelming. For Gedo, the elucidation of mental contents is not the principal task of analysis; rather, that task is the promotion of relevant cognitive functions and self-inquiry, and working through is the process or arena in which this promotion takes place.

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