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Basch, M.F. (1983). Affect and the Analyst. Psychoanal. Inq., 3(4):691-703.

(1983). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 3(4):691-703

Affect and the Analyst

Michael F. Basch, M.D.

If one were to think of the analyst's attitude toward his analysand as a diamond, neutrality, abstinence, and empathy would be its facets; and though for purposes of didactic exposition we may consider each of them in isolation, in practice they are inseparable. What holds these three together is affect: empathy is based on the affective communication between patient and analyst; neutrality involves the analyst's ability to respond to this affective experience with scientific equanimity; and abstinence refers to the analyst's willingness to withhold an affective ressponse from a patient when this is in the interest of helping the analysand to ultimately achieve the analytic resolution of his difficulties through insight.

The future analyst's capacity to be empathic, to experience and understand his patient's affects while still remaining neutral, that is, not given to reacting unthinkingly or reflexly to these experiences but, instead, using them only as a stimulus to further intellectual work, is based on the training analysis and on learning to apply Freud's investigative method.

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