chapter  2
27 Pages

The analyzing instrument: unconscious communication and classical psychoanalysis

If there is a “big bang” statement from which the universe of intersubjectivity has emanated, it is the quote above from Freud’s paper, “Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psycho-Analysis.” It contains within it the basic elements from which the various factors that comprise the intersubjective exchange (see Chapter 1) have been constructed as they have evolved over the last century. This quote is sandwiched between Freud’s discussion of how the analyst’s “evenly suspended attention” is a correlate of the patient’s “free associations” and his proposal that the analyst “use his unconscious . . . as an instrument in the analysis” (1912, p. 116). There is an implicit assumption that the “evenly suspended attention” of the analyst and the

analysand’s “free associations” are linked, though this linkage remains unexamined. Similarly, Freud leaves us tantalized by the notion of an unconscious that can be both “transmitting” as well as a “receptive organ.” Furthermore, it is the analyst’s unconscious that “is able . . . to reconstruct that unconscious, which has determined that patient’s free associations” (p. 116). How does the unconscious achieve this understanding, and are we to assume that the patient’s unconscious is similarly tuned into that of the analyst? And, finally, what did Freud have in mind when he said that the analyst “must adjust himself to the patient,” advice that seems to counsel against a rigid one-size-fits-all approach to technique?