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My Potential Patients: Origins, Detection, and Transference in - page 52 / 69





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Cohen 49

affirmation of a construction is only meaningful if the patient responds with

additional, related material that serves to "complete and extend" (262) it. A negation

is usually an expression of resistance, often a sign of the construction being not

wrong but incomplete. Affirmations and negations from a patient are thus always

ambiguous and never conclusive, with the subsequent events of the analysis alone

providing reliable indications of a construction's accuracy (259-265).

By relocating final authority over constructions within the person of the

(Freudian) analyst, Freud effectively removes the issue from the sphere of public

debate. But in a self-referential concluding section, Freud turns on himself to

question the dissemblance of the analytic roles. The relating "of an obviously apt

construction," he says, sometimes results not in the return of the repressed itself, but

in the recollection of related details. In these cases, resistance causes the

displacement of "the 'upward drive' of the repressed from the main body of the

memory onto related, less threatening memory traces (266). These details resemble

hallucinations, and the "mechanism"of their formation that of dreaming. Referring

to the infantile repression at the core of such distorted and displaced recollections,

Freud declares that "the essence of it is that there is not only method in madness, as

the poet has already perceived, but also a fragment of historical truth7' (267). If this

assessment is correct, it would no longer be necessary to convince a patient that he is

delusional, and the analysis should instead pursue the "kernel of truth" within a

delusion and relocate it within the patient's past. Given this new sense, delusional

processes are as common to neurotics (whose rising repressions cause anxiety) as to

psychotics, and indeed, "The delusions of patients appear to me to be the equivalents

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