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Nacht, S. (1963). The Non-Verbal Relationship in Psycho-Analytic Treatment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 44:334-333.

(1963). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 44:334-333

The Non-Verbal Relationship in Psycho-Analytic Treatment

S. Nacht

At first it seems paradoxical to talk of the non-verbal relationship in psycho-analytic treatment when classical analytic technique rests entirely on the dialogue between analyst and patient. The relationship established between them, which is at some times the very substance and at others the activating force in the therapeutic procedure, can only be clarified and interpreted by the use of words.

It would certainly be absurd, therefore, to deny the importance of words in the analytic relationship. By the use of words the patient makes himself known to the other, the analyst, and thereby learns to know himself too; he learns to express his desires and his fears; he assesses what he thinks he possesses and what he lacks—what he is and what he would like to be. But talking in analysis is even more than this, as we know—it is a continuous search, a veiled demand to be listened to, reassured, understood—in brief, to be recognized as a person and to be loved.

We also know that this demand, which cannot be fully satisfied in the analytic situation, will lead the patient through the vicissitudes of the treatment process to the end when he leaves the analysis and the analyst to look for a more satisfying object in an outside world which has at last become real to him.

It seems unnecessary to linger on the subject of the fluctuations which occur as the analysis progresses and which every analyst knows well. Throughout the treatment we see words used by the patient not only to express his thoughts and to reveal himself, but to appease, seduce, and disarm the analyst as object—particularly when the latter is unconsciously feared.

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