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Singer, J.L. (1971). The Vicissitudes of Imagery in Research and Clinical Use. Contemp. Psychoanal., 7(2):163-180.

(1971). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 7(2):163-180

The Vicissitudes of Imagery in Research and Clinical Use

Jerome L. Singer, Ph.D.

THE CHANGING FASHIONS of research and practical interests in imagery in psychology and psychiatry undoubtedly represent important trends in the evolution of sophisticated behavioral science. One might write a history of psychology and its crucial methodological problems built around the fate of the investigation of the image. Within just the past decade, there has been a proliferation in the variety and complexity of these methods of imagery investigation which, if added to the older European uses of such approaches, present a challenge to classification. Many of the methods are widely used now for group psychotherapy, encounter or sensitivity groups but the present paper focuses on the individual significance of imagery.

It seems appropriate to begin a survey of imagery methods by examining the use of imagery and fantasy in the more traditional psychoanalytic approaches. The latter have not often explicitly introduced imagery and fantasy as techniques because of the restrictions on directiveness and the necessity for permitting the unfolding of transference manifestations. Yet, in practice, classical analysis and some of its variants place a premium on the patient's capacity to generate imagery and to articulate this imagery verbally. As Wolstein 60 has shown, psychoanalysis never fully lost its original connection with hypnosis, wherein the patient is encouraged to produce vivid images or even hallucinations. Today we are closer to understanding the "mystery" of hypnosis imagery; we realize there is no mystery, thanks to the recent research of investigators such as Barber.

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