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Int J Psychoanal. 2007 Aug;88(Pt 4):843-60.

The foundational level of psychodynamic meaning: implicit process in relation to conflict, defense and the dynamic unconscious.

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Traditionally, intrapsychic entities such as conflict and defense were assumed to determine what happened at the interactive level. The interactive level was seen merely as the instantiation of such deeper forces. The authors delineate the upsidedown theoretical conception of the relationship between the supposedly 'superficial' layer of immediate interaction and the supposedly 'profound' layer of intrapsychic entities such as conflict and defense. Here they suggest that the interactive process itself is primary and generates the raw material from which they draw the generalized abstractions that they term conflicts, defenses and phantasy. Conflicts and defenses are shown to be born and reside in the domain of interaction. It follows that relational living out is the deep layer of experience, while the abstractions used to describe the repetitive aspects of these relational strategies, such as conflict and defense, are secondary descriptors of the deep level, but not the level itself, and exist further from the lived experience. These relational processes have largely been written about abstractly and even metaphorically, however, rather than in terms of specific exchanges at the local level of the interaction. Here the authors are redefining the intrapsychic as lived experience that is represented at the implicit level. They suggest that conflict and defense, as explicated in language, are useful abstractions, which are derived from the implicit level of lived interactions. However, they are secondary. The past is carried forward into the present at the level of lived experience. As such, the level of relational action is the foundation for the grasping of the psychodynamics to which the analyst will respond implicitly and interpretively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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