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Psychology and Mental Health

Chicago, USA
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Psychic defence and the technique of its analysis

Author(s): Weiss E


Freud opened up a new field of research, psycho-analysis, through the important discovery of the phenomenon of psychic defence. The dynamic conception of repression came into being with psycho-analysis itself. The creator of psycho-analysis also turned his attention to the forces which bring about repression and keep it in existence, to the mental agencies from which they arise and finally to the remoter causes which set them in motion. Later he described still other defensive measures against disagreeable feelings and the various vicissitudes which those measures undergo, such as reversal into the opposite, isolation, projection, etc. It was evident that increasing clinical use would be made of the knowledge of defensive mechanisms and their motives. The making conscious of rejected id-impulses seemed to presuppose that the analysand should have understood, first, that he was in fact rejecting something and, secondly, for what reasons and in what way he was doing so. Since, however, all this too was unconscious, the technical task arose of making him conscious of his unconscious reasons for, and methods of, defence. Different analysts, as we know, have offered explanations of these technical questions, but we find the clearest and most systematic description of defensive mechanisms in Anna Freud's valuable book (1936). It is certain that for a long time to come analysts who are working on this theme will turn to her work, which lays down the fundamental lines upon which this study must develop.

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