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Green, A. (1974). Surface Analysis, Deep Analysis (The Role of the Preconscious in Psychoanalytical Technique). Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 1:415-423.

(1974). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 1:415-423

Surface Analysis, Deep Analysis (The Role of the Preconscious in Psychoanalytical Technique)

André Green

Every analyst knows that his work aims to analyse each patient as an individual, through his most personal self. Can one even talk of single analytical technique when one knows how, in the course of one day, several techniques have been used, each adapted to suit individual patients or even individual types of patient? Nevertheless just as one always uses approximate diagnostic references, so one talks of a technique, as some ideal or average practice, even if the facts belie this ideal or this average. One can therefore say that there is an implicit theoretical model.


The analytical situation favours transference through regression. This regression is temporal, dynamic, and topographical. If, however, one considers only the temporal (or genetic) regression, one ceases to consider the topographical one. This, as we know, leads to mistakes. Thus the substitution of one content for another (incorporation fantasy) which is attributed to the breast rather than to the penis is neglected in favour of a content-structure equation. In the example I have just given, the oral content refers to oral regression without considering the relationship between topographical expression and the method of the presentation. In fact only the structure can tell us if the patient is having an oral or phallic regression. Analysts know that in order to grasp the structure one cannot merely study the content. Freud already knew this. The lack of reliability of the presentation has resulted in more importance being attached to the affects.

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