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Alexander, F. (1935). The Problem of Psychoanalytic Technique. Psychoanal Q., 4:588-611.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 4:588-611

The Problem of Psychoanalytic Technique

Franz Alexander

The general principles of psychoanalytic technique, as formulated by Freud in his five articles between 1912 and 1914, have often been subjected to careful reconsideration by various authors. Yet, and it is remarkable, these authors have failed to make any important innovation or modification. Many of the authors in developing their ideas of technique do so with the honest conviction that they are suggesting radical improvements over the standard technique. Others, more modest, maintain that their discussion calls attention to certain principles developed by Freud but for some reason or other neglected by the majority of analysts in their practical daily work.

There is an obvious reason for this constant urge to improve upon the analytic technique. Psychoanalytic therapy is extremely cumbersome, consumes the time and energy of patient and analyst, and its outcome is hard to predict on the basis of simple prognostic criteria. The desire to reduce these difficulties and increase the reliability of psychoanalytic treatment is only too intelligible. The difficulties, the time and energy-consuming nature of psychoanalytic therapy, are by no means disproportionate to its ambitious aim: to effect a permanent change in an adult personality which always was regarded as something inflexible. Nevertheless, a therapist is naturally dissatisfied, and desires to improve upon his technique and to have precise definite technical rules of technique in place of indefinite medical art.

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