A summary and review of Freud, S. (1914) Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (Further Recommendations in the Technique of Psychoanalysis II).
Freud begins with exploring the evolution of psychoanalysis and how with three segments psychoanalysis shaped its theory and practice. The first phase began with Breuer who emphasized on bringing the original situation that produced the symptoms into clear remembrance of the patient’s consciousness through hypnosis. With inducing hypnosis the individual remembers the episode and abreacts the repressed memory which produces a recovery of the neurosis. The second phase of psychoanalysis was when hypnosis was replaced with free association and interpretation. Interpretation became essential in order to override the resistance that caused the free association to cease. The free association joined with interpretation uncovered the original situation similar to hypnosis and cleared up the pathology. The goal of analysis was the same as with the hypnotic method which was to uncover the original situation. The difference was only how to accomplish this goal. The third phase in the formulation of psychoanalysis loses focus of the past and instead focuses on the here and now of the patient’s state; what is being transferred via the free association and what is being held back through resistance, became the essential inquiry. How the patient relates is key, and once the free association between the analyst and analysand flows and the blockages of resistance are removed via interpretation the original situation is revealed. The difference between the third phase and second phase is only where the focus of the therapy lays. In the third phase it’s the way in which the patient relates in the transference that matters, and as a result the original situation is revealed, however in the second phase the uncovering of the resistance to reach directly to the original situation is key, and the interpretation is here to excavate the origin of the neurosis. In all three modalities the goal is to bring the unconscious original situation which brought upon the neurosis into consciousness and familiarity, the only difference is how to go about accomplishing this goal.
Within the new technique of transference an important observation needs to be made in regard to the patient’s way of relating in the analytic situation. The patient, instead of remembering the past situation will act it out unconsciously in a compulsive way, by repeating the past repetitively instead of remembering it. The compulsion to repeat is actually an act of transference. The essence of transference is repeating the past unconsciously. The resistance and phobias of the past are also transferred and played out as a resistance in the present treatment, preventing the analysis from progressing. The acting out defends against the memorization, which means, the more acting out the less remembering can take place, and vice versa is also true, the more remembrance the less compulsive behavior.
Freud explains what are acted in the preset are symptoms of the past which were repressed into the personality and are now finding way to surface. The difference between the hypnotic technique and the newer analytic work becomes more evident in the acting out; with the hypnotic work it’s more of an experiment in a laboratory of the past, however with the newer technique which focuses on the transference and the real life relatedness the consequences are real and present. The patient explores his inhibitions through interpretations which can become compulsions in real life.
In the first phase of treatment the challenge is to encourage the patient to attend to the symptoms as part of his personality, not as something bizarre and alien, rather as something important that needs to be addressed. Before treatment it is likely that the patient does not know the nature and frequency of his symptoms, due to his dismissive attitude towards them, however with treatment the patient begins to realize that his symptoms take shape in his personality and is worthy of exploration. As the treatment progresses the hidden and repressed memories surface and may feel dangerous to the patient. The compulsion to repeat outside the transference may actually be harmful when acted upon. The focus of therapy becomes to help the patient keep the repressions expressed in the psychically realm of the analysis, not in reality. In order to deal with the repetition the repetition needs to be dealt within the transference.
The main accomplishment of analysis is to turn the compulsion into a remembrance (verbalization) which can be dealt with in a psychical realm within the transference—within the playground of the therapy we allow all instincts and repetitions to be play out in order to gain a mastery and conversion of the past situation. The analytic situation turns the neurosis into a ‘transference-neurosis.’
Transference is a space between the internal unconscious past illness and the external real life; it is a middle area where the illness is played out and placed intermediately between the inner and outer world. The healing can begin with the symptoms displayed in the open arena of the analytic situation of the transference. The memories become repetitions, and the repetitions become explored and interpret, and eventually conscious and verbalized.
Freud now explains the process of ‘working through’, working through begins with uncovering of the resistance via interpretations. It may happen that after pointing out the resistance the resistance intensifies, however this intensification is actually a sign of success. After the analyst names the resistance the analysand needs time to become acquainted and conscious of his resistance, which allows the process of working through the resistance to take place. The reason why the resistance escalates is because when the repressed impulses are being uncovered they amplify, these impulses feed the resistance which causes the resistance to heighten. Only with the analyst and analysand in alliance and in common ground can the resistance be processed and eventually removed.
Freud, S. (1914) Remembering, Repeating and Working Through (Further Recommendations in the Technique of Psychoanalysis II) SE 12:145 -156