chapter  5
Symbolic imagery
An aspect of unverbalized communication
ByTheodore Laquercia
Pages 10

The evenly hovering attention recommended in the conduct of psychoanalysis by Sigmund Freud was a state of being which would, he posited, enable analysts to perceive better the unconscious communications of their patients. He used the word “Gleichschwebend” to describe this state of being for the analyst. This stance was achieved by a reduction in the sensory awareness of other stimuli and a heightened attention to the communications of the patient. “Poised attention” was the translation made by Theodor Reik (1948), which took into account the concept of “free floating attention” and other nuances inherent in the original German. Gerald Edelman (1992) describes attention as the human’s ability to attend selectively to experience in a narrow band of perception, suggesting that this ability is likely to be a vestige of “evolutionary pressure” deemed necessary for survival. He goes on to point out that unconscious activity occurs simultaneously as the “global mapping” of consciously attended stimuli registers on perception. This interplay of conscious and unconscious activity is regulated by the demands of the situation for motor activity relative to the experience at hand. In the analytic session, the poised attention of the analyst and the attention potential of the patient, as defined by Edelman, create the setting for a unique dynamic and a particular kind of communication.