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De M'Uzan, M. (1974). Analytical Process and the Notion of the Past. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 1:461-466.

(1974). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 1:461-466

Analytical Process and the Notion of the Past

M. De M'Uzan

In spite of the scepticism shown by Freud in 'Analysis Terminable and Interminable' (1937), analysis is not an indefinite process. It quite often evolves, as every analyst has surely discovered, towards a conclusion which is felt to be natural. 'Often', alas, does not mean 'always'—far from it. Indeed, just placing a patient in the analytical situation is not in itself sufficient to include the birth, the development and the completion of that strange phenomenon we call analytic process. In successful cases when it does occur, the analyst has the feeling that a movement, or a psychical adventure has described a sort of trajectory which potentially existed even before the beginning of the treatment. Indeed, one may say that the whole creates an impression of great beauty. In other cases, however, although an analytical treatment is considered to be appropriate, time seems to pass without any real work being done and we are faced with that indefinite stasis which McDougall (1972) has described so well. Such an analysis can be interminable, or may end at almost any moment. It is this absence of an ability to evolve that seems to me to be the decisive point.

In my opinion, then, the notion of analytical process does not define only the set of phenomena observable during the treatment, it designates a creation almost in the literal sense of the word—the destiny of a work which develops in time whilst recapturing the past, a work which is neither completely original nor a pure and simple repetition of what has gone before.

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