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Eisold, B.K. (1999). Profound Recognition: Where Does it Fit in Analytic Work?. Contemp. Psychoanal., 35(1):107-130.

(1999). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 35(1):107-130

Profound Recognition: Where Does it Fit in Analytic Work?

Barbara K. Eisold, Ph.D.

MANY USEFUL INTERVENTIONS are made in psychoanalysis. Interpretation is certainly one of these, as are inquiry, affirmation, and support. Recently, however, analysts of different schools are describing exchanges with patients that imply profound experiences of recognition, surprisingly mutative in their effects. Although not always achieved in the same way, such an experience can make the analysand feel deeply comprehended and acknowledged, despite the immediacy of symptoms and the vulnerability implicit in the role of patient. In fact, the power of recognition may be very much enhanced because the longing for it has been present within the analysis for some time, in the midst of unarticulated transference and countertransference entanglements. When it then occurs, it may contribute to what Ghent (1995) has called the “transformative” effect of psychoanalysis over time. “From th[e] moment [of recognition] onward,” according to Louis Sander (1992), “the organization of the patient-therapist system has changed…. This is the healing moment, that sets the conditions for a change in organization by providing a new base from which the patient can act as agent in his own self-regulation” (pp. 583-584).

Freud, still very present in the mind of many analysts, was not particularly focused on the meaning, to the patient, of such an experience of recognition. In the index to his collected works (Strachey, 1975) there is not a single entry referring to the subject.

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