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Barron, J.W. (1989). Meeting of the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East. Psychoanal Q., 58:517.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:517

Meeting of the Psychoanalytic Institute of New England, East

James W. Barron


Dr. Smith described Freud's use of the concept of screening to refer to specific phenomena such as screen memories, as well as to a general principle of mental organization. Dr. Smith then elaborated the use of the term to include "screen language." He offered a clinical example in which a patient used an exclamatory phrase to conceal an earlier version of the same phrase. Dr. Smith stated that the patient's occasional use of the expression, "ai-yi-yi," initially went unnoticed by both patient and analyst. Once the expression captured the analyst's attention, a mutual exploration of its origins and functions gradually facilitated the reconstruction process. The phrase, which the patient and her sister had used during latency, screened earlier memories, vocalizations, and feelings and then helped to reveal them. She had, in fact, used and reused the phrase in various circumstances and during different developmental periods. In the course of her analysis, the multiple meanings and representations became clearer. In a transformative sense, "ai-yi-yi" became "I-I-I," paralleling the patient's early development as well as her course within the analysis. Dr. Smith suggested that his concept of "screen language" as a developmental metaphor might be linked with the findings of Dr. Daniel Stern in infant research and with the concept of the infantile precursors of a sense of psychic reality described by Dr. Jacob Arlow.

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