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Hoffman, L. (2007). Do Children Get Better when we Interpret their Defenses against Painful Feelings?. Psychoanal. St. Child, 62:291-313.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 62:291-313

Child Psychoanalytic Technique

Do Children Get Better when we Interpret their Defenses against Painful Feelings?

Leon Hoffman, M.D.

This paper represents a step toward trying to integrate clinical and research perspectives. To achieve this integration, analysts need to be clear about the clinical constructs and specific interventions they utilize as they try to unpack the concept of “therapeutic action.” In trying to understand “how” interventions work, technical interventions need to be clinically formulated in a narrow fashion within the more global therapeutic approach in which the particular analyst practices. In this paper, I address one specific technical approach. I discuss the therapeutic importance of an intervention, especially during the beginning phases of an analytic or dynamic therapeutic process: interpretation of defenses against unwelcome affects, a technique in whose development Berta Bornstein was instrumental. This paper puts forward the hypothesis (which remains to be systematically empirically verified or refuted) that this approach is not only a core element of defense analyses but may very well be common to all good psychodynamic treatments, regardless of the manifest theoretical orientation of the therapist or analyst, and regardless of the analyst's or therapist's explicit consideration

that he or she is utilizing this approach. Clinical material from the literature is discussed in order to illustrate the technique and to show how, when analysts are attempting to demonstrate the value of other or new interventions, analysts may ignore how they are, in fact, utilizing the technique of interpreting defenses against affects.

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