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Tip: To sort articles by year…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

After you perform a search, you can sort the articles by Year. This will rearrange the results of your search chronologically, displaying the earliest published articles first. This feature is useful to trace the development of a specific psychoanalytic concept through time.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Spivak, A.P. (2014). The Interpretive Process: The Power of “Mere” Words. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 62(6):1063-1073.

(2014). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 62(6):1063-1073

The Interpretive Process: The Power of “Mere” Words

Alan P. Spivak

Anna O. coined the term “talking cure” while telling Breuer, her doctor, of the healing effect of her “chimney-sweepings.” The test of time has shown, however, that a cure that endures rarely is achieved so easily. Indeed, it was the limitations Freud found in the method of abreaction that inspired him to invent the more nuanced and complex treatment of psychoanalysis. In this revision of the talking cure, much of the healing is thought to be set in motion by the doctor's “translation” of the patient's speech.

I will begin by examining Freud's conception of the link between cure and translation, his word for interpretation. I will then explore curative aspects of the analyst's talking that were essentially unmentioned by Freud, but that may magnify exponentially the transformative power of the analyst's words. Finally, I will illustrate, with a vignette, the power of interpretation to deepen the analytic process and transform an analysand's relation to herself and to her mind.

In The Interpretation of Dreams Freud (1900) quotes the French psychologist Maury: “It is our impulses that are speaking and making us act” (p. 73 n. 1). Later, in a letter to Jung, Freud (1906) developed this idea into what would become a guiding principle for psychoanalytic treatment: “Transference provides the impulse necessary for understanding and translating the language of the ucs.; where it is lacking, the patient does not make the effort or does not listen when we submit our translation to him” (p. 11).

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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