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Mullan, H. Sangiuliano, I.A. (1958). Interpretation as Existence in Analysis. Psychoanal. Rev., 45A(1/2):52-64.

(1958). Psychoanalytic Review, 45A(1/2):52-64

Interpretation as Existence in Analysis

Hugh Mullan and Iris A. Sangiuliano


Differentiation and integration are inherent to life, yet in clinical practice we are confronted constantly with stasis. The primary aim of our psychotherapeutic endeavors thus becomes to upset this stasis and so permit man's inherent potentialities to come into actualization. We hope to move people to change and assist them in altering a way of life which has proven unsuccessful. How do we attempt to accomplish this? We ask ourselves what moves people to change. Why do people alter their behavior? We note that change occurs when persons are together or have been together. In psychotherapy, the one most important tool which we attempt to use for the purpose of change is interpretation. The mood of its action is thought to be based upon one person's good will, knowledge, and understanding of the other and his ability to communicate this in a manner which has meaning for the other.

Interpretations seen in this light are not confined to the psychotherapeutic relationship alone. They happen throughout life, from early infancy until death. They result from two persons being together and thus engendering in each other new meanings. When a concerned mother cautions her child against touching a hot stove, this is an interpretation of a kind. Through this communication the mother teaches the child about the nature of his environment. But this warning to the child is not confined solely to being a prohibition. It is an indication of the mother's great knowledge, her experience, her loving care, her belief that her child will understand and be able to take care of himself. Although interpretations take place in all life situations, in therapy, where they are more prevalent, they are crucial. Here they have to do principally with the reasons for one's existence.


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