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What is Resistance and Working Through

What is Resistance and Working Through


Resistance is another circumstance typical of psychoanalysis, materialising especially as the lifting of repression becomes likely.  Rather than face the anxiety-provoking incident, impulse or conflict, the patient may well exhibit resistance in a combination of its many guises: being late for appointments; forgetting appointments entirely; terminating sessions prematurely; “omitting” to dream (or at least to remember dreams); drying up or blanking out during free association; accusing the analyst of being demanding; and so on.  Skilful timing is also indicated in offering an interpretation to the patient (on the basis of the occurrences outlined in this section).  A premature interpretation may simply arouse further anxiety and defensiveness.

Working Through

Interpretation and insight may be helpful to the patient, but are deemed, nevertheless, as insufficient for lasting change.  Consequently, working through unfolds as a piecemeal process, as the patient discovers the full ramifications of the uncovered material and acquires new behaviour patterns and attitudes.  Freud considered working through to be essential and the aspect of psychoanalytic work making the most difference to the patient.  As a result of working through, the patient may achieve Freud’s limited and somewhat pessimistic overall goal of a return to everyday unhappiness, albeit free from the misery caused by the burden of long-repressed conflicts.

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