A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis

By Sigmund Freud | Go to book overview

NINETEENTH LECTURE

GENERAL THEORY OF THE NEUROSES

Resistance and Suppression

IN order to progress in our understanding of the neuroses, we need new experiences and we are about to obtain two. Both are very remarkable and were at the time of their discovery, very surprising. You are, of course, prepared for both from our discussions of the past semester.

In the first place: When we undertake to cure a patient, to free him from the symptoms of his malady, he confronts us with a vigorous, tenacious resistance that lasts during the whole time of the treatment. That is so peculiar a fact that we cannot expect much credence for it. The best thing is not to mention this fact to the patient's relatives, for they never think of it otherwise than as a subterfuge on our part in order to excuse the length or the failure of our treatment. The patient, moreover, produces all the phenomena of this resistance without even recognizing it as such; it is always a great advance to have brought him to the point of understanding this conception and reckoning with it. Just consider, this patient suffers from his symptoms and causes those about him to suffer with him. He is willing, moreover, to take upon himself so many sacrifices of time, money, effort and self-denial in order to be freed. And yet he struggles, in the very interests of his malady, against one who would help him. How improbable this assertion must sound! And yet it is so, and if we are reproached with its improbability, we need only answer that this fact is not without its analogies. Whoever goes to a dentist with an unbearable toothache may very well find himself thrusting away the dentist's arm when the man makes for his sick tooth with a pair of pincers.

The resistance which the patient shows is highly varied, exceedingly subtle, often difficult to recognize, Protean-like in its manifold changes of form. It means that the doctor must become suspicious and be constantly on his guard against the

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