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Schwaber, E. (1983). Psychoanalytic Listening and Psychic Reality. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 10:379-392.

(1983). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 10:379-392

Psychoanalytic Listening and Psychic Reality

Evelyne Schwaber


Freud's landmark discovery of the fantasy theory of neurosogenesis defined the domain of psychoanalytic inquiry as psychic, in contrast to material reality, resulting in a profound shift in the nature and realm of clinical investigation. Although such technical precepts as—not to reality-test, not to impose one's own perspective, values, or theoretical framework—emphasize the primacy of psychic reality as our clinical purview, analytic listening has betrayed an outlook which

remains steeped in a hierarchical two-reality view. The analyst, even as silent arbiter of whether or not distortion has taken place, whether an event—immediate or past—is fact or fantasy, is in the implicit position of holding the more 'objective' view, incurring the risk thereby of subtly, if not overtly, guiding the patient in accord with this view.

Vigilant attunement towards the implicit maintenance of such a hierarchical outlook in our mode of listening will lead to a profound scientific 'yield'. Sharpening the focus on the impact of our contribution on the patient's experience, taking full cognizance that our view of this contribution reflects only our own psychic reality and is neither more nor less 'correct' than the patient's, will narrow the leaps of inference made, permitting the emergence of deeper realms of experimental phenomena. The patient's self-observing capacity will be augmented and more affectively meaningful insight attained. Psychic reality will be more decisively pursued as our sole clinical domain.

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