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Kuras, M.F. (1992). Intimacies of the Impersonal. J. Anal. Psychol., 37(4):433-453.

(1992). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 37(4):433-453

Intimacies of the Impersonal

M. F. Kuras, Ph.D.


Depth psychology took a modern form in 1900 with the publication of Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams. In this work Freud reunited the symptom with the dream, sighting in them a common origin, a shared primal impulse that shadowed the logical pattern of consciousness. To reach these desires, to hold them in awareness, required a particular methodology, this being the patient's ability to freely associate and the therapist's ability to suspend attention. These initial methods composed an extraordinary way of seeing, a kind of aboriginal vision, that, for reasons still unclear, seems necessary to prompt the remedial power in psychotherapy.

For Freud, this method allowed for a re-finding of the intentionally exiled desires and proclivities populating the realm he called the unconscious. The enhanced sensitivity to these unconscious impulses was desirable because it allowed for more precise awareness of them, and, owing to that, paradoxically made it possible to apply a more efficient set of defences against them. Judging from the theory, it is clear that whatever Freud saw with his method looked threatening: whatever was seen had to be tamed and translated into a more familiar form. The therapy was aimed to make the unconscious, the hysteric blends of cognition and emotion uncovered by Freud's methodology, conform to the kind of consciousness valued by him. This consciousness produced a vision of stability, where things had secure names and steady properties that dominated the context in which they appeared. The therapeutic model Freud constructed assumed that adapted action proceeded out of thoughts and emotions that were fixed and bound, organized into what he termed the secondary process.

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