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Fosshage, J.L. (2004). The explicit and implicit dance in psychoanalytic change. J. Anal. Psychol., 49(1):49-65.

(2004). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 49(1):49-65

The explicit and implicit dance in psychoanalytic change

James L. Fosshage, Ph.D.

How the implicit/non-declarative and explicit/declarative cognitive domains interact is centrally important in the consideration of effecting change within the psychoanalytic arena. Stern et al. (1998) declare that long-lasting change occurs in the domain of implicit relational knowledge. In the view of this author, the implicit and explicit domains are intricately intertwined in an interactive dance within a psychoanalytic process.

The author views that a spirit of inquiry (Lichtenberg, Lachmann & Fosshage 2002) serves as the foundation of the psychoanalytic process. Analyst and patient strive to explore, understand and communicate and, thereby, create a ‘spirit’ of interaction that contributes, through gradual incremental learning, to new implicit relational knowledge. This spirit, as part of the implicit relational interaction, is a cornerstone of the analytic relationship. The ‘inquiry’ more directly brings explicit/declarative processing to the foreground in the joint attempt to explore and understand. The spirit of inquiry in the psychoanalytic arena highlights both the autobiographical scenarios of the explicit memory system and the mental models of the implicit memory system as each contributes to a sense of self, other, and self with other. This process facilitates the extrication and suspension of the old models, so that new models based on current relational experience can be gradually integrated into both memory systems for lasting change.

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