Is the Concept of Corrective Emotional Experience Still Topical?

By Palvarini, Paolo | American Journal of Psychotherapy, April 1, 2010 | Go to article overview

Is the Concept of Corrective Emotional Experience Still Topical?


Palvarini, Paolo, American Journal of Psychotherapy


This article gives a historical review of the literature concerned with the role of emotional factors in psychoanalysis. The author then focuses on Alexander's milestone contribution and above all, on the concept he developed of corrective emotional experience. Alexander moves gradually over time from the classical position, which gives insight a place of choice, to a more radical view, in which, the most effective therapeutic factor is represented by the emotional experience within the therapeutic relationship. The article includes a review of the literature relevant to the concept of corrective emotional experience. Finally, Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy, a therapeutic approach giving a prominent role to the therapeutic power of corrective emotional experience is considered. Two vignettes from a psychotherapy carried out according to the principles of Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy provide examples of how this model is applied clinically.

KEYWORDS: corrective emotional experience; Sàndor Ferenczi; Franz Alexander; Experiential-Dynamic Psychotherapy; real relationship.

SÀNDOR FERENCZI: THE PIONEER

In 1924 Ferenczi and Rank published The Development of Psychoanalysis, the essay considered by many to be the cornerstone of the psychoanalytic view that values the role of the emotional experience in therapy. In this book the two authors assert that within the analytical process primacy is not for the remembering, but for the repeating, that is to say the reproducing of the emotional experience in the treatment; it follows that the task of the analyst in session is to stimulate and encourage the repeating of such experiences. Ferenczi and Rank criticize the analytical attitude that favours explanation, theoretical understanding, and genetic reconstruction; in their view the repeating, as an experience that is lived in the session, should take the leading role in analytical treatment. They condemn the interpretative fanaticism of many analysts of their time, who lost sight of the difference between means and aim, with the result that the interpretation, often changed from a means of knowledge of the patient's mental state, into an intellectual exercise. The authors were convinced that their work opened a new phase of psychoanalysis, which they named the "phase of experience" (p. 55-56), and which was focused more on the lived experience than on explanation and intellectual understanding. Ferenczi and Rank considered ineffective the interventions of the analyst focused on the genetic reconstruction, and with regard to them they asserted: "they [the patients] can only convince themselves of the reality of the unconscious when they have experienced [. . .] something analogous to it in the actual analytic situation, that is, in the present" (p. 37). They added that "affects in order to work convincingly must first be revived, that is made actually present" (p. 38). But the fear of veering far from the road mapped out by Freud was great, and Ferenczi and Rank, at one point in the essay, emphasized that remembering remained the final factor that lead to healing.

Before the publication of The Development of Psycho-analysis, Ferenczi (1919a, 1919b, 1921, 1924) introduced the concept of active technique, meaning that the patient, by means of some prescription by the analyst, is induced to assume an active attitude. Ferenczi (1919a), for example, determined well in advance the end of treatment for a patient whose analysis proved to be stagnant; this to motivate her recovery of the analytical work. The main function of the active technique was to reinforce the tendency to repeat through increased emotional activation, and thus encourage "learning" through lived experience rather than through intellectual understanding.

De Forest (1942) and Thompson (1943), Ferenczi's patients and pupils, recognized the originality in their teacher's technique of valuing the human component of the analytical relationship, in which the analyst poses as a fallible human being. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Is the Concept of Corrective Emotional Experience Still Topical?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.