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Brenneis, C.B. (1999). The Analytic Present in Psychoanalytic Reconstructions of the Historical Past. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(1):187-201.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(1):187-201

The Analytic Present in Psychoanalytic Reconstructions of the Historical Past

C. Brooks Brenneis

The psychoanalytic reconstruction of specific influential past events has been a regular feature of psychoanalytic practice from its inception. More recently, as reconstructions of incestuous sexual abuse have become more frequent, the reconstructive process has attracted attention, and doubts have been expressed about the validity of the analytic evidence used to substantiate their inference. Over the years, psychoanalytic discourse about the adequacy of this evidence has moved from Freud's uneasy confidence to a rather sharply divided debate between advocates and skeptics. From beyond psychoanalysis, memory research raises questions about the validity of this evidence, and research on influence raises questions about the procedures by which it has been collected. A reexamination of several cases in which reconstuctions emerged from unstable therapeutic circumstances leads to the conjecture that dynamics located in the analytic present may have been displaced to the historical past. Although logically “truth in the past” need not foreclose on “truth in the present,” in practice, once a reconstruction surfaces, the latter seems to disappear behind the former.

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