The Role of Interpretation in Therapeutic Change
Of all the various procedures that in their totality make up the psychoanalytic process, interpretation stands at the most pivotal center. Other aspects of the analytic interaction, such as providing a comfortable, undisturbed analytic setting or creating an appropriate analytic ambience, are, in essence, just preparatory for the moment when the right interpretation will result in a modification of the analysand’s psychic life. My definition of interpretation is a very wide one. It includes all those intentional activities of the analyst that in their totality bring about a modification of the analysand’s psyche. The modification brought about may be for the better (i.e., therapeutic), but it may fail or even be antitherapeutic. The activities that are included in my definition are verbal statements and any other consciously directed interventions by the analyst, including those apparent noninterventions or omissions of an action that are the cause for a modification in the analysand’s mental world. Clearly, all interpretations are experiences and are effective by virtue of their being experienced as goal-directed interventions from the side of the analyst.1 Thus, I would exclude those experiences that accidentally or nonintentionally emanate from the analyst. In this discussion I want
to highlight the interpretative process as understood and guided by the principles of a self-psychologically informed psychoanalysis.