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(1962). Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 31:438-439.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:438-439

Meetings of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

January 30, 1962. AN INQUIRY INTO 'WORKING THROUGH'. Walter A. Stewart, M.D.

Freud's writings indicate that the process, 'working through', is rendered essential by a special type of resistance—'the attraction exerted by the unconscious prototype upon repressed instinctual processes'; i.e., certain patients 'cannot make up their minds to detach libidinal cathexes from one object and attach it to another'. A loss of plasticity or mobility of cathexes results in hesitation to enter upon new paths pointed out for instinctual impulses. This 'adhesiveness of the libido', or psychic inertia, which tends to conserve 'early linkages between instincts and impressions and the objects involved in the impressions', is a manifestation of primary process arising from the id, and hence might be termed 'id resistance'. Abrogation of this resistance by working through 'distinguishes analytic treatment from treatment by suggestion'.

Since Freud the term 'working through' has been used in different, and often confused, ways. Fenichel defined it as a repetitive rediscovery: the analyst's giving repeated interpretations in various connections of what has been warded off. Greenacre describes it as the 'repetitive overcoming of resistances to demonstrate the power of instinctual demands, and a working to supposed traumatic memories'. Loewald believes that it includes the task of 'helping to lift unconscious processes to a new level of integration—the level of secondary processes'.

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