About Modern Psychoanalysis

MODERN PSYCHOANALYSIS rests upon the theoretical framework and clinical approach of Sigmund Freud, who defined clinical psychoanalysis as any line of investigation that takes transference and resistance as the starting point of its work. As psychoanalytic practice and theory developed, psychoanalysts began to doubt the applicability of classical psychoanalytic technique to the treatment of narcissistic disorders. Interpretation, the mainstay of classical technique, proved ineffective in the treatment of severe pathologies. 

In the mid forties, Hyman Spotnitz—working as a supervisor with a group of mental health professionals at the Jewish Board of Guardians—developed a systematic theory of technique designed for the treatment of preverbal conditions. The body of theoretical and clinical knowledge developed by Spotnitz and his colleagues, known as “Modern Psychoanalysis,” amplified Freud’s theories making them applicable to the full spectrum of emotional disorders. 

Spotnitz determined that the core problem in narcissism is self-hate rather than self-love, as previously thought. He recognized the preponderance of destructive aggression in narcissistic disorders and used it dynamically in formulating his theory of the technique, thus also confirming the operational viability of Freud’s theory of dual drives. Spotnitz further recognized that transference phenomena include experiences from conception through the first two years of life, in addition to those from the oedipal period.
The arousal in the patient of pre-feeling and/or early feeling states, communicated in the analysis primarily through behavior, symptoms, and symbolic communications, rather than through words, was termed the narcissistic transference. The feelings induced in the analyst by the preverbal patient’s dynamics were recognized as the narcissistic countertransference, and became an invaluable tool for understanding unspoken communication and formulating interventions which proved successful in resolving “the stone wall of narcissism.” The analyst’s interventions are primarily intended to provide an emotional-maturational communication to the patient, rather than to promote intellectual insight.

Candidates in modern psychoanalytic institutes are trained to understand and work with narcissistic as well as other conditions. They learn how to develop the narcissistic transference and to use the patient’s verbal and non-verbal communications, along with their induced feelings, in resolving resistances. By using techniques appropriate to resolve the gamut of resistances to maturation, Modern Psychoanalysts are able to reach patients with neurotic, somatic, borderline and psychotic dysfunctions.


 © 2009 SMP - Society of Modern Psychoanalysts

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software