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Malcolm, R.R. (1986). Interpretation: The Past in the Present. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 13:433-443.

(1986). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 13:433-443

Interpretation: The Past in the Present

Ruth Riesenberg Malcolm


In this paper I maintain, and illustrate clinically, the point that the analyst, by analysing the transference, is analysing past and present at the same time.

Following the Kleinian understanding of the internal object relationships, and using case material to illustrate my point, I support the view that the past is alive in the present, and that transference is an alloy of past and present. By understanding and interpreting the transference the analyst is dealing with the patient's early conflicts, which can only be understood and resolved when lived through in the present with the analyst.

I maintain that the work of reconstruction is done in the analysis of the transference and that references to the past have an important linking value for the patient, in that they help him to get a sense of continuity in his life which helps him toward integration.

I also discuss the level of interpretations and the language in which I think they should be expressed.

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