ABSTRACT

From its inception, psychoanalysis has indicated that the ideal for analytic listening and analytic interpretation is to be without bias. The goal of an unbiased approach as been evident in the key words, phrases, and sentences of Freud and leading analysts since then. The analyst’s position is one of neutrality; he listens with “evenly suspended attention” (Freud, 1912, p. 111). He suspends prior judgments and gives “empathic attention to everything that there is to observe” (Freud, 1909, p. 23). Modeling himself on the surgeon, he “puts aside all his feelings” (Freud, 1912, p. 115) and concentrates all his mental forces on the aim of skillfully carrying out his function. Like a “mirror,” he shows the patient “nothing but what is shown to him” (1912, p. 118). Anna Freud noted that the analyst “takes his stand at a point equidistant from the id, the ego and the superego” (1936, p. 30). He steers a course between Fenichel’s Scylla of failing to give himself the fullest opportunity to experience the patient’s communication” and the Charybdis of unsystematic “‘free floating’ that . . . is not comprehended by a reasoning power that keeps ultimate aims in view” (1941, p. 6).