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Int J Psychoanal. 1992 Summer;73 ( Pt 2):283-92.

Does psychoanalysis heal? A contribution to the theory of psychoanalytic technique.


Beginning with Freud's controversial admonition to psychoanalysts to model themselves on the surgeon who 'dresses the wound, but does not heal it', the author attempts to explore the limits of the therapeutic effect of psychoanalysis. After briefly reviewing the role of projective identification in the transference, and the origin of the analyst's need to be a healer in his anxieties about the strength of his own destructive impulses, he describes certain emotional difficulties that arise in the analyst when he accepts the fact that he can only do analysis. He goes on to suggest that, while psychoanalysis is able to reduce the psychic distance between parts of the patient's mind that have been separated by splitting, this in itself does not provide the patient with a corrective emotional experience, mitigate the severity of his superego, or guide him along the correct developmental path. He further suggests that the analyst's acknowledgement of this limitation--which is equivalent to acknowledging that he can help the patient to grow, but he cannot 'grow' him--is part of a state of mind that the analyst must have to do analysis, and that this state of mind helps to distinguish the practice of psychoanalysis from that of other psychotherapies.

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