Retas Sejarah

Sigmund Freud // Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through (Further Recommendations on the Technique of Psycho-Analysis II)

It seems to me not unnecessary to keep on reminding students of the far-reaching changes which psycho-analytic technique has undergone since its first beginnings. In its first phase—that of Breuer’s catharsis—it consisted in bringing directly into focus the moment at which the symptom was formed, and in persistently endeavouring to reproduce the mental processes involved in that situation, in order to direct their discharge along the path of conscious activity. Remembering and abreacting, with the help of the hypnotic state, were what was at that time aimed at. Next, when hypnosis had been given up, the task became one of discovering from the patient’s free associations what he failed to remember. The resistance was to be circumvented by the work of interpretation and by making its results known to the patient. The situations which had given rise to the formation of the symptom and the other situations which lay behind the moment at which the illness broke out retained their place as the focus of interest; but the element of abreaction receded into the background and seemed to be replaced by the expenditure of work which the patient had to make in being obliged to overcome his criticism of his free associations, in accordance with the fundamental rule of psycho-analysis. Finally, there was evolved the consistent technique used today, in which the analyst gives up the attempt to bring a particular moment or problem into focus. He contents himself with studying whatever is present for the time being on the surface of the patient’s mind, and he employs the art of interpretation mainly for the purpose of recognizing the resistances which appear there, and making them conscious to the patient. From this there results a new sort of division of labour: the doctor uncovers the resistances which are unknown to the patient; when these have been got the better of, the patient often relates the forgotten situations and connections without any difficulty. The aim of these different techniques has, of course, remained the same. Descriptively speaking, it is to fill in gaps in memory; dynamically speaking, it is to overcome resistances due to repression.

We must still be grateful to the old hypnotic technique for having brought before us single psychical processes of analysis in an isolated or schematic form. Only this could have given us the courage ourselves to create more complicated situations in the analytic treatment and to keep them clear before us.

In these hypnotic treatments the process of remembering took a very simple form. The patient put himself back into an earlier situation, which he seemed never to confuse with the present one, and gave an account of the mental processes belonging to it, in so far as they had remained normal; he then added to this whatever was able to emerge as a result of transforming the processes that had at the time been unconscious into conscious ones.

At this point I will interpolate a few remarks which every analyst has found confirmed in his observations.1 Forgetting impressions, scenes or experiences nearly always reduces itself to shutting them off. When the patient talks about these ‘forgotten’ things he seldom fails to add: ‘As a matter of fact I’ve always known it; only I’ve never thought of it.’ He often expresses disappointment at the fact that not enough things come into his head that he can call ‘forgotten’—that he has never thought of since they happened. Nevertheless, even this desire is fulfilled, especially in the case of conversion hysterias. ‘Forgetting’ becomes still further restricted when we assess at their true value the screen memories which are so generally present. In some cases I have had an impression that the familiar childhood amnesia, which is theoretically so important to us, is completely counterbalanced by screen memories. Not only some but all of what is essential from childhood has been retained in these memories. It is simply a question of knowing how to extract it out of them by analysis. They represent the forgotten years of childhood as adequately as the manifest content of a dream represents the dream-thoughts.

The other group of psychical processes—phantasies, processes of reference, emotional impulses, thought-connections—which, as purely internal acts, can be contrasted with impressions and experiences, must, in their relation to forgetting and remembering, be considered separately. In these processes it particularly often happens that something is ‘remembered’ which could never have been ‘forgotten’ because it was never at any time noticed—was never conscious. As regards the course taken by psychical events it seems to make no difference whatever whether such a ‘thought-connection’ was conscious and then forgotten or whether it never managed to become conscious at all. The conviction which the patient obtains in the course of his analysis is quite independent of this kind of memory.

In the many different forms of obsessional neurosis in particular, forgetting is mostly restricted to dissolving thought-connections, failing to draw the right conclusions and isolating memories.


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