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Rosenfeld, H. (1972). A Critical Appreciation of James Strachey's Paper on the Nature of the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 53:455-461.

(1972). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 53:455-461

A Critical Appreciation of James Strachey's Paper on the Nature of the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis

H. Rosenfeld

Ever since the publication of Freud's 'Papers on Technique' between 1912 and 1917, there have been papers and symposia on the subject. Four symposia in 1937, 1948, 1958 and 1961 were devoted respectively to the examination of the therapeutic results of psychoanalysis, its curative factors, variations in technique and the ego-psychological approach to interpretations.

I am taking as my starting point and my main focus one of the early contributions to this important subject: Strachey's paper in 1934, which has always been considered a key paper. I first was tempted to compare Strachey's ideas with the views of other psychoanalysts of that period, especially Glover, Fenichel, Bergler, Nunberg and Bibring at the Marienbad Congress. After studying these papers it seemed, however, that this would not only be a rather time-consuming and sterile task but would make it impossible to do justice to Strachey's paper, which has a quality and depth that make others appear rather insignificant in comparison. It would not be difficult to summarize the main hypotheses of Strachey's paper relating to mutative interpretations, but what is more difficult to convey are the many striking ideas which he makes almost in passing which are revealing and wise in their clinical observation. He stresses that his paper is 'not a practical discussion upon psychoanalytic technique' and that its immediate bearings are merely theoretical. However, this is clearly an understatement, because the paper both challenges one's clinical experience and has important clinical implications even though actual case material is not quoted.

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