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Balint, E. (1987). Memory and Consciousness. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:475-483.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:475-483

Memory and Consciousness

Enid Balint


During the first few years of his analysis Mr Smith had no mental or visual memories. He had body memories in so far as his body both looked like a baby, and behaved in a baby-like way on the couch. There were no words to describe the baby or his environment. he was a baby who could not think or communicate verbally. He made strange noises, but each day was the same as the last. There were no other patterns of behaviour.

For the first three years the analysis consisted mainly in the patient coming to sessions and leaving them and starting again the next day; in the analyst trying not to make sense of the content of the words that were spoken, but in trying to catch some sense or feeling from the movements of his body and the sounds that he made. He did not use the words 'I' or 'you' in his sessions. His conscious thoughts were derived from other peoples' consciousness and did not link up with his own perceptions.

After about three years of analysis the patient started to remember his sessions. Whereas before he seemed half awake and half asleep, half conscious and half unconscious, he became awake enough to perceive.

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