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Sharpe, E.F. (1930). The Technique of Psycho-Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 11:361-386.

(1930). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 11:361-386

The Technique of Psycho-Analysis

Ella Freeman Sharpe



I call your attention to-night to the operation of defence-mechanisms in general character-traits and in conduct. To be able to recognize how they operate in the business of actual living, the ends they achieve for the individual, means a recognition of the task in analysis of resolving what are technically known as resistances.

Defence-mechanisms are those psychical methods which have been evolved to defend the ego from danger. The danger arises from the mandates of the super-ego issued against the wishes of the id. The defence-mechanisms that magically defend the ego are what we term 'resistances' in analysis. One hears 'resistance' spoken of as if it were specifically devised against analysis. The defence-mechanisms are always present, but during analysis a specific attempt to resolve them is made and success depends upon this resolution. The tightening of resistances during analytical work can be understood if we remember that the patient is defending himself psychically in ways analogous to those that a person in real danger would adopt if he were threatened with defencelessness. It matters not that the dangers are unreal. They feel real enough.

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