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Rawn, M.L. (1988). Classics Revisited: Some Thoughts on Strachey's 'The Nature of the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 69:507-519.

(1988). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 69:507-519

Classics Revisited: Some Thoughts on Strachey's 'The Nature of the Therapeutic Action of Psychoanalysis'

Moss L. Rawn


I have revisited Strachey's classic. Strachey seemed committed to the natural science position, whilst I argued for a methodological hermeneutics within a theoretical natural science. Strachey emphasized internalization processes, with interpretation being its tool as explanation of therapeutic action. I preferred to think of interpretation as the figure upon the ground of object internalization. I presented a case illustrating the therapeutic effects of interpretation and of internalization. I reviewed Strachey's discussion of 'mutative' interpretation and extra-transference interpretation. Strachey's usage of 'mutative interpretation' is by today's lights a too limited conception of superego and ego processes. Strachey's concept 'auxiliary superego' now could be called 'the good enough therapeutic object'. I listed some of the characteristics of this therapeutic object, as well as indicated why some disturbed patients have trouble internalizing this. Finally, I concluded that Strachey was a much more complex figure than a simple reduction to Freud versus Klein.

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