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A few reflections on how we may approach


the unconscious
a
Pentti Ikonen
a
Karsikkotie 10, 82900, Ilomantsi, Finland
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To cite this article: Pentti Ikonen (2003): A few reflections on how we may approach the unconscious, The
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A few reflections on how we may approach the unconscious*


Pentti Ikonen

This paper inquires into the method of psychoanalysis, i.e., the way one, in
psychoanalysis, investigates the unconscious. The author emphasizes that the
basic instrument in this investigation is the analysand's self-observation. Ac-
cordingly, the goal of psychoanalysis is viewed as the enhancement of the
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analysand's ability to observe himself (and, thus, the facilitation of the inter-
nal flow of information), and that all other goals are secondary to this one.
In this context, the author mainly discusses the instrument of interpretation.
It is found that many psychoanalysts today seem to disregard this instru-
ment's function of helping the analysand to see for himself what there is to
be observed in his own psyche. The author makes a distinction between help-
ing the analysand acquire the ability to make observations and the making
of observations in themselves, draws some inferences from this, and discusses
various difficulties in keeping to the mentioned basic goal of psychoanalysis.

Key words: unconscious - self-observation - interpretation

Even a brief review of the current trends in with the help of psychoanalysis. This is what
psychoanalysis is enough to show that psychoana- psychoanalysis has wished to achieve from its very
lytic research, psychoanalytic practice and its goal beginning - to bring psychic elements dissociated
can be understood in many different ways. This from consciousness under conscious self-obser-
has given rise to a discussion, which will probably vation - and this is where its fundamental right of
continue for a long time. What follows is my con- existence lies.
tribution to this discussion.
II

Accordingly, we understand the basic task of


Within every living creature, information on the psychoanalysis to be the promotion of the internal
function and status of the separate parts has to be transmission of information within the area of the
transmitted to the other parts so that the whole psyche. This is why the unconscious must be
may function. Psychoanalysis strives to find and studied in such a way that what is brought to the
remove the obstacles to this information trans- conscious mind and thereby within the trans-
mission and thereby facilitate it. mission of information is exactly what there is in
We do not know how many obstacles a person the unconscious and in those forms in which it is
has to his internal information flow, or what type there, i.e., what has been dissociated one way or
these obstacles are. We can observe some of them the other. We strive to hold on to this consistently
and some of those that we have observed are such without forgetting that a great deal of other things
that we can help the analysand to remove them also take place during psychoanalytic work.
The basic goal of the expansion of conscious-
*Translated by Kaisa Sivenius. ness or conscious self-observation shuts out any
other possible goals of analysis, such as certain such areas of his psyche where the borders of the
changes in the personality that are considered dissociated area are mobile or weak and release
signs of healing, the fact that certain themes are samples to the conscious mind of what generally
retrieved for processing, the formation of new psy- is or only a moment ago still was unconscious in
chic structures, the joint creations of the analyst the analysand's psyche. Step by step, the obstacles
and the analysand, etc. Such other goals may also to self-observation and whatever it was that they
be accomplished without an expansion of the con- were meant to prevent from becoming observed,
scious - and often at the price of its expansion - are brought within the sphere of self-observation,
as the dissociations become stronger or move to the analysand's internal flow of information is ex-
other areas. Some time ago, it was customary to panded and he is able to observe this expansion.
talk about a flight to health, for example, where Every person is the primary observer of his own
the flight was a flight from the study of the uncon- consciousness. Only he or she has immediate ob-
scious and becoming conscious of the uncon- servations of what takes place in it. In order for
scious. Today, we might rather talk about a flight the analyst to be able to help the analysand ex-
from the threat of expanded self-observation to pand the area of his self-observation, the analys-
some other goal set for analysis. and must report his observations to the analyst as
Such other goals set for analysis and such other exactly and unselectively as possible.
psychic events will be arrived at in the course of
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the analytic work anyway: they need not be set as


IV
the primary goals of analysis. The analysand may
use them to answer either consciously or uncon- In other words, the analysand has two basic tasks:
sciously some intervention by the analyst or, more to observe his own psyche and to report his obser-
generally, anything that may occur during analy- vations to the analyst. The task of the analyst is
sis. Yet they cannot be set as the goals of analytic to help the analysand expand his self-observation
cooperation, because the analysand cannot know specifically to those areas of his psyche where it
what he should do in order to reach them. Thus, does not usually have access, and to help him re-
analysis remains a ritual, and the analysand does port his observations.
not understand its connection to the goal. Bring- It may at first be difficult for the analysand to
ing the unconscious within the reach of conscious understand what self-observation and the reporting
self-observation is understandable as a goal of of its results to the analyst mean. The analyst has to
analysis and can also be demonstrated. It is some- explain what self-observation is all about in words
thing that can be agreed as the goal of analysis and by example, i.e., by what the analyst pays atten-
together with the person starting the analysis. tion to in the analysand's reporting.
The self-observation needed in the analytic
work requires two things from the analysand: the
III
sharpening of his observations directed at his psy-
Self-observation is the basic instrument of becom- che, on the one hand, and refraining from judging
ing conscious. The obvious fact that something is or reflecting on the phenomena he has observed
brought to the conscious mind by turning it into and using the energy thus saved for further obser-
an object of conscious observation becomes com- vation, on the other. Freud explains these two
plicated in psychoanalysis because the analysand principles of self-observation in "The Interpreta-
does not know what to look for as the object of tion of Dreams" (Freud, 1900). By following these
his observation (one cannot know what is uncon- principles, such psychic material as would other-
scious) and because there are obstacles to self-ob- wise remain unaccessed can be brought within the
servation and they, too, lie beyond the reach of reach of conscious self-observation. Or, to put it
self-observation. To put it bluntly, we might say in yet other words, it becomes possible to move
that what must be retrieved as the object of con- on the weak points of the obstacles protecting the
scious self-observation is the reason why conscious unconscious.
self-observation does not work. Because of this, a The first of these principles requires the training
person needs another person to help him to ex- of a specific skill, self-observation, while the other
pand his self-observation (consciousness); in other calls for an organisation of the dynamics of the
words, the analysand needs the help of the analyst. psyche, or its use of energy, in a particular way.
Together with the analyst, the analysand can study Helping the analysand to put to use and develop

4
his self-observational activity and to find the dy- conscious of some unconscious material simul-
namic organisation necessary for it does not only taneously makes the obstacles to consciousness
belong to the initial phase of the analysis. Help unnecessary, or that the obstacles are easier to deal
with this must be provided throughout the analy- with when they have become less necessary. In any
sis. Helping the analysand to achieve and maintain case, with such assumptions, the analyst tries to
the necessary skills for this activity is not the same establish as the object of the analysand's self-ob-
thing as helping him to do the work itself, al- servation something that the analysand is not dy-
though these may at some points overlap. In- namically ready to observe.
structing someone how to use binoculars and relax In the best case, interpretation may help the ana-
his eyes and position during the viewing is not the lysand become conscious of something uncon-
same thing as helping them collect observations of scious even when it is incorrect or inadequate in
the object viewed (to use a rough example). some other way. However, interpretation may also
Understanding the interventions made by the be fruitless or misleading and it may become a long-
analyst in order to help the analysand acquire this term obstacle to self-observation. Every analyst
working skill and do the analytic work as two sep- knows examples of his own work, either directly or
arate things makes it easier to differentiate the as traces of others' work, as well as of his self-analy-
analytic work from its background. All inter- sis. What is essential is that interpretation is always
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ventions and talk offered by the analyst are not guessing, it is an art, as Freud calls it in various con-
analysis: they may, for example, prepare the ana- nections. We have no knowledge of what states of
lysand for the analytic work, maintain the work, the affair we might deduce from what states of the
break it off or simply take a rest from it. In order affair in order to make the interpretation. It is only
to help the analysand to acquire the skill of ana- afterwards, and not even always then, that we can
lytic work, analysts use a great variety of different determine why some interpretation helped the ana-
methods. They are often described as methodolog- lysand in his self-observation. Afterwards, we can
ical exceptions in case vignettes, but they are not also search and guess at the formal criteria of a
always clearly distinguished from the analytic good interpretation, such as the right timing, the
work itself. Similarly, not everything the analysand right language, the right prosody, the right suc-
says and does is the material sought after for self- cession, the object of the interpretation is suffi-
observation in analysis, though they may provide ciently close to consciousness, etc., but such criteria
the point of departure for the search. are formal and have no knowledge-based prediction
value by means of which the adequacy of the inter-
v pretation could be determined beforehand. They
provide perspectives from which the inadequacy of
Interpretation as a tool in the study of the uncon- an interpretation that turned out to be inadequate
scious is problematic in many ways. Freud orig- can afterwards be examined.
inally meant interpretation to serve as an aid to If and when the aim of psychoanalytic interpre-
self-observation in situations where the analys- tation is to help the analysand retrieve as the ob-
and's self-observation, that moves according to ject of his self-observation some unconscious ele-
free association, stopped (Spacal, 1990). However, ments of his psyche, the interpretation is deter-
interpretation now seems to have risen to a central mined very precisely through this task. The
position and left self-observation almost entirely interpretation must refer to something that al-
in its shadow. I refer to the descriptions of the ana- ready exists in the analysand's psyche and not to
lytic work where the analyst interprets the analys- bring something new there, such as a new angle to
and's talk - or even behaviour - without paying something, or to offer the analysand something
attention to whether we are dealing with the ana- the interpreter assumes in a new, either more toler-
lysand's self-observation or self-expression in gen- able or more cutting form. If the element referred
eral, with its own, and quite different, objectives. to in the interpretation that lies in the unconscious
Interpretation disregards the obstacles to con- psyche in its own form is left unattained by the
sciousness. It strives to reach the material the ana- analysand's self-observation, the interpretation
lysand has dissociated directly, without dealing does not fulfil the basic task of analysis, even if
with the inner obstacles on its way. The analyst the analysand might be able to make use of it in
who uses interpretation assumes that adequate many other ways. The singularity of the object of
interpretation which helps the analysand become the interpretation underlines the difficulty of inter-

5
pretation as a form of art and, at the same time, mental images, emotions, facial expressions and
undermines the importance of knowledge-based gestures) bound by the rules of normal discourses
learning in the art of interpretation. concerning them, as the relationship of the repre-
senting sign with the represented can be almost
VI anything. In other words: according to the more
general knowledge that we have of the uncon-
We know about the unconscious only as far it has scious mind, a person need not take into account
become conscious, i.e., what used to be uncon- in his unconscious mind the bases of knowledge
scious. We also know something of the uncon- and values on which our conception of reality is
scious elements of the psyche through their deriva- built. It follows from this that the laws of our con-
tives that are observable in consciousness. How- scious knowledge cannot support interpretations.
ever, the unconscious elements deduced from the We only know that these laws do not apply in the
derivatives must first become the object of con- unconscious. The manifest dream may suffice as
scious self-observation, so that the assumed de- an example. It is a sample of the mind's usually
rivative relationship can be pronounced real. A unconscious forms of action that has slipped into
simple comparison will clarify the idea. I see a the conscious mind during sleep.
light bark boat float on the surface of the water.
Suddenly, the boat begins to move quickly back
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VII
and forth and I assume that there is something
under the water that moves it. When I look closer, In spite of the guessing nature of interpretation,
I see that there is indeed a caterpillar clinging to part of the interpretations fulfil their goal and help
the bottom of the boat and its movements make the analysand reach material referred to in the
the boat move. A moment ago, the only thing I interpretation by means of self-observation. The
new of this underwater creature was the movement analyst's guesses have in these cases turned out to
it caused. Now I know what it is and how it causes be adequate. When they do not get support from
the boat to move. But it might also happen that I the kind of epistemological basis on which our
can see nothing under the surface and understand conception of reality is generally founded, they
that almost unnoticeable breaths of wind move the have to lean on something else, in order not to
boat back and forth. There was no particular hid- remain completely arbitrary attempts. As far as I
den power there to move the boat. Its own visible understand, the interpretations lean on the ana-
structure and soft currents of wind produced the lyst's experiences of his own psyche. The analyst
movement. There is reason to be careful in making enters into the description given by the analysand
deductions on what remains beyond conscious ob- of his psyche and thinks what might be moving in
servation, until it is retrieved as an object of obser- his own psyche if he were in the psychic situation
vation. of the analysand and what there is such that the
There is even more reason to be careful with analysand is obviously unable to observe in his
interpretations and to understand their use as psyche or talk about. The analyst then suggests
comparable to a form of art. We know from ana- that to the analysand. If the interpretation is suc-
lytic experience that everything that appears in the cessful, the analysand observes the suggested mat-
conscious mind may also be present in the uncon- ter in his psyche. Every interpretation should,
scious, except those things that either explicitly or therefore, actually begin by "if I were in your psy-
implicitly bear the attribute conscious. But we also chic situation, I would ..." , etc. For many reasons,
know that the flows of events in the unconscious however, this is hardly ever done; instead, the
mind need not take into account certain restric- interpretation is said without any introductory
tions that we deem necessary when constructing phrases or perhaps with some reserve. This prac-
conscious reality. tice that has been found useful in the work is, how-
In our unconscious relationship with the world ever, apt to promote a misunderstanding of the
and ourselves, we need not take into account the epistemological foundation of the interpretations.
structures of time and space, cause and effect, the It creates the impression that the interpretations
rules of logic, the limits set by the jointly accepted are based on some general knowledge from which
material reality or ethical, aesthetic or communal they may be applied to the singular psychic situ-
norms. Nor do we need to take into account the ation of a single person, although this is not the
use of representative signs (in which I also include case. Psychoanalytic theory only provides the ana-

6
lytic work with a perspective from which to study turbances of self-regulation that attract it, as dis-
each particular matter involved. Which of the per- turbances usually do attract observation. The ana-
spectives offered by analytic knowledge is useful lysand's self-observation moves in an area where
to adopt as the starting point of the study in each the unconscious material as an inner "other force"
case must also be solved by the analyst on the (Postenyi, 1984) disrupts self-regulation without,
basis of the experience he has in his own psyche however, reaching consciousness. The area is weak
concerning the type of mental situation involved. or uncertain from the point of view of defence,
Nor can the analyst in his interpretation offer any and a touch with the unconscious may be ob-
such element, event or status of the psyche that he served. However, if the disturbance is very strong,
could not in principle experience in his own psy- it also arouses a strong desire to defend oneself.
che, as well (see, e.g., Postenyi, 1996). This, again, Because of this, minor disturbances, such as slips,
requires that nothing human must potentially be where the need for defence is smaller, have their
alien to the analyst. special value as starting points of self-observation.
That nothing human ought to be alien to the When external disturbances are minimised,
analyst is a problem in many ways: how could this internal ones lend themselves to observation more
be possible or how could it be replaced when it is easily. This is one argument for the analytic setting
not possible. It is not possible to deal with this and the analyst's neutrality and abstinence. Some-
problem here, but it is a good idea to bear it in times, however, extreme neutrality and abstinence
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mind, particularly because it often assumes in the can turn into an external disturbance. The analyst
analyst's mind or in external criticism a form that needs to decide in casu where to draw the line.
is hurtful to the analyst's professional identity: As the duty to report self-observations and the
"The analyst has not been analysed properly" or consequent need to take the listener into account
"the analyst's work is restricted because he belongs continue to disturb self-observation more or less
to this particular school". At one time, it was markedly, the analyst can all the time take this
popular to talk about "the analyst's blind spots". both internal and external disturbance up as an
If, in principle, nothing human is alien to the object of self-observation. However, the interest
analyst, the obstacles to consciousness should that the analyst thus continues to express increases
not be alien to him either. The wish to make the weight of the disturbance and supports the de-
progress in the work and to bring what is hidden pendence of the analysand's self-observation on
behind the obstacles within the sphere of self- the other person, who needs to be taken into ac-
observation tempts the analyst to interpretative count. In this way, the analyst can, should he so
guesses. Especially if the interpretation appears wish, direct the analysand's self-observation and
adequate and the analysand reacts to it by the entire analysis so that is becomes dominated
changing in the desired direction, the treatment by transference. The analysand's self-observations
of the obstacles may be neglected as unnecessary. on the weight of the disturbances and his own fo-
Instead, a greatly simplified picture of the uncon- cusing of his self-observation, accordingly, are
scious element is created as the "cause" of the closer to the analysand's psychic reality.
symptoms and of the interpretation as the "heal-
er". This picture is generally not mentioned ex-
IX
plicitly, but it dominates implicitly many analytic
discussions and case vignettes. It also leads to The most harmful aspect of interpretations from
using the analytic work for setting norms to the point of view of the basic goal of analysis is
what ought to be found and interpreted in the the well-known and common tendency of analys-
unconscious. Once set, norms, again, diminish ands to replace self-observation with the interpre-
the chance of listening to the analysand's expla- tation. The analysand then accepts his reaction to
nation of what he is observing in his psyche and the interpretation, i.e., the mental images, emo-
leads away from the analysand's observations to- tions, impulses to act, etc., aroused by it as con-
wards assumptions that fit the analyst's theory. sciousness of his unconscious psyche. However,
this may be a way of evading some unpleasant ob-
VIII servation, the imaginary fulfilment of some libid-
inal, narcissistic or sadomasochistic wish, the ease-
The analysand's self-observation proceeds closer ment of guilt or some other defensive operation.
to his psychic reality when it follows internal dis- The analysand does not use the interpretation he

7
has been given to facilitate his self-observation, analysand the opportunity to check his obser-
but for something else. Particularly when the inter- vations and their independence or dependence on
pretation does not help him find something im- the analyst. It also clarifies to what extent the ana-
mediately, instead of rejecting the interpretation, lysand has reached the unconscious elements of
he uses it to meet the needs of the dynamics of his psyche without altering them in accordance
the moment. Yet regardless of the adequacy of the with the conception he has of his analyst. When
interpretation, the analysand always responds to the interdependence of transference and self-ob-
the interpretation with some other change in the servation is reached by self-observation, it is also
dynamic organisation of his psyche than a success- a sign that self-observation is free from this de-
ful or unsuccessful attempt at self-observation. pendence. At the same time, it creates the pre-
Consequently, he may respond to an adequate requisites for the analysand's analysis to continue
interpretation and subsequent successful self-ob- as self-analysis after the cooperation between the
servation by a "negative therapeutic reaction" and analyst and the analysand has come to an end.
to an incorrect interpretation by a "positive thera-
peutic reaction". The analyst will find out about
X
these things only afterwards, if they appear as ob-
jects of the analysand's self-observation. When the analyst uses interpretations to help the
In an essay published in 1931, Glover (1955) analysand study his unconscious psyche, he gives
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studies the therapeutic effect of inexact interpreta- the analysand's potential self-observation more
tions - we might as well say "incorrect interpreta- shape and direction than if he starts from some
tions" - and assumes that they act as suggestions, jointly-observed difficulty the self-regulation runs
or rather that the analysand uses them as if he into, and the self-observation the analysand fo-
had received suggestions. Glover does not stop to cuses on this fact. The analysand may use the
consider the key problem of suggestion, i.e., how interpretation given by the analyst with either
it is possible that a person can with the help of positive or negative authority to press his obser-
suggestion from another person influence several vation into a shape with which he can evade some
bodily and mental functions which otherwise are unpleasant matter or an unpleasant feature of
not in his conscious control (such as the vaso- some matter.
motor changes necessary for turning pale, for ex- Obviously, the analysand himself tries to shape
ample). Glover focuses his attention on the quality the material he allows under his self-observation
of the suggestive relationship and the forms in in a way that would make it less unpleasant for
which the suggestion is offered, as those who study him, but in that case, this is his own activity which
suggestion usually do. However, in what form and he may sooner or later reach by self-observation
within what type of a relationship he is willing to and not from a formulation offered by an out-
receive and carry out the suggestion, if at all, de- sider. The lighter the touch the analysand's self-
pends on the object of suggestion. Even the use of observation has with the material he has observed,
suggestion is a kind of art. There can be no univer- the more lucid and unchanged he gets it at his dis-
sal rules for its desired outcome, because everyone posal. Naturally, this is true of the analyst as well.
is free to react in his own way to the offered sug- Freud's recommendation that we should treat the
gestion as well as to the suggestive relationship. manifest dream with all its details as a sacred text
The analysand may accept some of the analyst's also applies to self-observation and the material it
interpretations or other interventions as the kind reaches in the psyche. If Freud had not taken this
of suggestions with which he changes his self-ob- attitude, we would not have the evidence of man's
servation so that it becomes more acute; he may unconscious psychic activities which "The Inter-
also distort it or even avoid something entirely, al- pretation of Dreams" contains.
ways according to how he experiences his relation- I will try to illustrate this further. Johan Norman
ship with the analyst. The relationship between mentioned at some Nordic Psychoanalytic Con-
transference and self-observation brings out, in gress something that he called the permeability of
statu nascendi, how taking someone else into con- the analyst. It is what makes the analyst different
sideration affects self-observation. Consequently, from other craftsmen even in connection with an
there is reason to bring the importance of the ana- occasional discussion with a person who seeks his
lysand's relationship with the analyst as an object help. I understood this so that the analyst opens a
of the analysand's self-observation. It offers the place in his mind and heart for what he hears, with-

8
out immediately starting to judge or interpret it. nate to joint creation. If, on the other hand, joint
Another indication of this is the analysand's excla- creation is an instrument for the study of the ana-
mation, "goodness, you are listening to me", which lysand's unconscious psyche or maintenance of the
the analyst sometimes gets to hear at the early stage analysand's skill of analytic work, its position in
of analysis. Hanns Sachs tried to express the op- the work is subordinate to how well it functions in
posite of this with his example of a butterfly: an these tasks. If it does not work or if it seems to
eager little boy catches a butterfly in his hand with become an obstacle to reaching the basic goal, it
the purpose of studying the fascinating patterns in must be given up.
its wings more closely. When the energetic but im- The goal of the work determines the measures
prudent student opens his fist, there is not much left taken during the work. Measures that help ac-
of the object of his study. complish the goal are correct. A specific goal de-
Pontalis (1986) has written about the old mean- termines the measures more clearly than an unspe-
ing of the concept passion. It is the logical opposite cific or too general goal. A concrete example is two
of the concept action and differently from reaction, tasks given to a carpenter: make a specific type of
which is a counter-action, it means the exposure of table or make a piece of furniture.
oneself to the consequences of action. The function The basic goal of psychoanalysis, to help the
of the senses will serve as an example. When I want analysand expand his consciousness, is specific
to see some object, I want to expose my eyes to the and both psychologically and biologically justi-
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light waves (or particles) it emanates; the more fied. As such, it is also a precise criterion for the
clearly I want to see the object in all its features, the measures to be used.
more sensitive I want my exposure or passion to be- In addition to their goal, the applications of
come. A well-developed skill of passion is, there- natural sciences also have knowledge of the effects
fore, a useful instrument for the analyst in his study of different measures at their disposal. The analyst
of the psyche. The analysand, too, needs it as the does not have such knowledge. The analysand is
primary observer of his consciousness. One aid in free to decide how he responds to the analyst's in-
learning the skill is the analyst's example. For many, terventions, whatever they may be. The analyst's
this may be the only aid. only means is trial and error.

XI XII

Directing the observation at one's own psyche Dependence on another person's free will in an im-
with as much passion as possible does not corre- portant work is often difficult to bear, but there is
spond to the prevailing ideals of education, teach- yet another difficulty involved. Analytic knowl-
ing and acting in our culture, as these ideals con- edge and its acquisition include no power at all.
tinue to lead us to action and turn towards the Without the analysand's consent, the analyst is un-
outside world in order to observe it. The analys- able to study his psyche. This arises in every ana-
and, who has adopted the attitude recommended lyst, at least the occasional wish that one could be
and partly even required by our culture, needs freed of this dependency, that one would find some
some kind of explicit or implicit guidance in the power to overrule it. But if we could in some way
analytic work and his own part in it. Without acquire knowledge about the analysand's uncon-
some idea of the basic goal and nature of the ana- scious against his will, we would simultaneously
lytic work, the mental images of them change in be left without the essential knowledge why he did
the direction of the more general concepts increas- not want to give it and why it was unconscious. In
ingly used to describe them. The analytic work be- other words, we would not acquire knowledge
comes above all interaction, a dialogue, a joint cre- after all.
ation, a reinterpretation, a construction of new Nevertheless, power attracts and the attraction
narratives, or something of the kind. All these may is easy to justify with the requirement of efficiency,
be necessary for the analytic work, but what is es- for example, which is one form of the use of
sential is what we try to use them for. If some joint power. In our culture, knowledge involves power.
creation of the analysand and analyst, such as It must be possible to use knowledge to manipu-
some conception of something in the analysand's late some object, or it must be possible to produce
life that has been arrived at, is the basic goal of it with some manipulation. If this is not the case,
the analytic work, everything else will be subordi- we do not have real knowledge.

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Analytic knowledge is opposite to the concep- perspectives to the study, they need not be allowed
tion of knowledge that involves power. We simply to disturb self-observation.
have to let ourselves absorb knowledge of another The analyst's task is to help the analysand at-
person's and our own unconscious by becoming tain unconscious material as the object of his self-
impressed in the same way as our sense organs are. observation and to maintain the skill of analytic
It cannot be produced, unless we regard the pre- work. In the latter task, as good as all means seem
paredness to receive as producing, and the more to be permissible, as long as they do not disturb
we are exposed only to receive observation ma- the accomplishment of the basic goal. There is no
terial, the more genuine and the more useful it is - need to worry about finding interpretations. They
useful in the sense that once the material is observ- are there only to help the analysand's self-obser-
able and no longer dissociated, the person who is vation, and there are other tools for that task as
its source is now in contact with it and the possi- well.
bility to take it into account. The observation ma-
terial has no manipulative application. It only REFERENCES
serves as evidence of what there is or may be in
the person's psyche. At this stage the analytic work Freud, S. (1900). The interpretation of dreams. S.E., 4--5.
has been completed as far as the point in question Glover, E. (1931). The therapeutic effect of inexact interpre-
is concerned, although it generally seems difficult tation: a contribution to the theory of suggestion. In:
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The Technique of Psychoanalysis. London: Bailliere, Tin-


to trust such a result. Manipulative applications as dall & Cox, 1955.
something more or more efficient are always Pontalis, J.-B. (1986). Nej, nej och ater nej! In: Matthis, I.
tempting in their own way, but they are hindered (ed.): Griins och rorelse. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur.
by man's psychic freedom. Postenyi, A. (1984). Some reflections on interpretation,
holding and psychoanalysis as a science. Scand. Psy-
choanal. Rev., 7: 11-131.
CONCLUSION - (1996). Hitom lustprincipen; Drom, trauma, dOdsdrift.
Divan, 3: 4--15.
What practical consequences do these reflections Spacal, S. (1990). Free association as a method of self-ob-
have? Analytic work does not need support or jus- servation in relation to other methodological principles
tification from statistics; nor does it need to be of psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Q., 59: 420--436.
searched for curative or mutative factors. These
are given in the basic goal of psychoanalysis.
The analyst need not worry about conflicting
theories or schools in his practical work. He col- Pentti Ikonen
lects material of self-observation on which theor- Karsikkotie 10
ies are built and against which they are verified. 82900 Ilomantsi
Although theories and schools provide different Finland

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