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Hyde, S.R. (2020). Birksted-Breen, Dana. ‘Pathways of the Unconscious: When the Body is the Receiver/Instrument’. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 100, 6, 1117-33.. J. Anal. Psychol., 65(4):759-762.

(2020). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 65(4):759-762

Birksted-Breen, Dana. ‘Pathways of the Unconscious: When the Body is the Receiver/Instrument’. The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 100, 6, 1117-33.

Review by:
Suzanne R. Hyde

I am writing this review during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has added a further instrument through which to interpret and decipher unconscious communication in our consulting ‘zooms’. Therefore, it was timely for me to wrestle with Birksted-Breen's paper, which makes a sincere attempt to understand unconscious processes, particularly when experienced by the analyst somatically.

For the writer to get to her central theme, she expounds on her understanding of the concept of countertransference. She urges caution in the ‘elastic’ use of psychoanalytic terms. By this she means the way terms such as countertransference, projective identification and containment can be used in a rather all-encompassing way, rather than retaining the integrity of the ascribed meaning. With this in mind, she provides a historical context for the evolution of the term and painstakingly unpacks Freud's complex relationship to it. She refutes the given assessment that Freud saw it as an obstacle to the analyst. Instead, she comes to an important conclusion that it was the ‘term’ he dissociated from and he instead introduced and developed something that approximates countertransference, referring to it as the analyst's ‘instrument’.

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