We're back online! Site is being targeted by spambots. My apologies. -- September 15, 2018

Talk:Resistance

From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Lacanian Psychoanalysis
Jump to: navigation, search

resistance (French: résistance)

Freud first used the term 'resistance' to designate the unwillingness to recall repressed memories to consciousness.

Since psychoanalytic treatment involves precisely such recollection, the term soon came to denote all those obstacles that arise during the treatment and interrupt its progress: "Whatever disturbs the progress of the work isa resistance."[1]

Resistance manifests itself in all the ways in which the subject breaks the 'fundamental rule' of saying everything that comes into his mind.

Though present in Freud's work from the beginning, the concept of resistance began to play an increasingly important part in psychoanalytic theory as a result of the decreasing efficacy of analytic treatment in the decade 1910-20.

As a consequence of this, ego-psychology placed increasing importance on overcoming the patient's resistances.

Jacques Lacan

Lacan is very critical of this shift in emphasis, arguing that it easily leads to an 'inquisitorial' style of psychoanalysis which sees resistance as based on the 'fundamental ill will' of the patient.[2]

Lacan argues that this overlooks the structural nature of resistatice and reduces analysis to an imaginary dual relation [3]

Lacan does accept that psychoanalytic treatment involves "analysis of resistances," but only on condition that this phrase is understood correctly, in the sense of "knowing at what level the answer should be pitched."[4]

In other words, the crucial thing is that the analyst should be able to distinguish between interventions that are primarily orientated towards the imaginary and those that are orientated towards the symbolic, and know which are appropriate at each moment of the treatment.

In Lacan's view, resistance is not a question of the ill will of the analysand; resistance is structural, and it is inherent in the analytic process.

This is due, ultimately, to a structural "incompatibility between desire and speech."[5]

Therefore there is a certain irreducible level of resistance which can never be 'overcome'.

"After the reduction of the resistances, there is a residue which may be what is essential."[6]

This irreducible 'residue' of resistance is 'essential' because it is the respect for this residue that distinguishes psychoanalysis from suggestion.

Psychoanalysis respects the right of the patient to resist suggestion and indeed values that resistance.

"When the subject's resistance opposes suggestion, it is only a desire to maintain the subject's desire. As such it would have to be placed in the ranks of positive transference."[7]

However, Lacan points out that while the analyst cannot, and should not try to, overcome all resistance, he can minimise it, or at least avoid exacerbating it.[8]

He can do this by recognising his own part in the analysand's resistance, for "there is no other resistance to analysis than that of the analyst himself."[9]

This is to be understood in two ways:

One

The resistance of the analysand can only succeed in obstructing the treatment when it responds to and/or evokes a resistance on the part of the analyst, i.e. when the analyst is drawn into the lure of resistance (as Freud was drawn into the lure of Dora's resistance).

"The patient's resistance is always your own, and when a resistance succeeds it is because you [the analyst] are in it up to your neck, because you understand."[10]

Thus the analyst must follow the rule of neutrality and not be drawn into the lures set for him by the patient.

Two

It is the analyst who provokes resistance by pushing the analysand:

"There is no resistance on the part of the subject."[11]

"Resistance is the present state of an interpretation of the subject. It is the manner in which, at the same time, the subject interprets the point he's got to. ... It simply means that he [the patient] cannot move any faster."[12]

Psychoanalytic treatment works on the principle that by not forcing the patient, resistance is reduced to the irreducible minimum.

Thus the analyst must avoid all forms of suggestion.

The source of resistance lies in the ego:

"In the strict sense, the subject's resistance is linked to the register of the ego, it is an effect of the ego."[13]

Thus resistance belongs to the imaginary order, not to the level of the subject.

"On the side of what is repressed, on the unconscious side of things, there is no resistance, there is only a tendency to repeat."[14]

This is illustrated in SCHEMA L; resistance is the imaginary axis a-a' which impedes the insistant speech of the Other (which is the axis A-S).

The resistances of the ego are imaginary lures, which the analyst must be wary of being deceived by.[15]

Thus it can never be the aim of analysis to "strengthen the ego," as ego-psychology claims, since this would only serve to increase resistance.

Lacan also criticises ego-psychology for confusing the concept of resistance with that of defense.

However, the distinction which Lacan draws between these two concepts is rather different from the way in which they are distinguished in Anglo-American psychoanalysis.

Lacan argues that defence is on the side of the subject, whereas resistance is on the side of the object.

That is, whereas defences are relatively stable symbolic structures of subjectivity, resistances are more transitory forces which prevent the object from being absorbed in the signifying chain.

More

Psychoanalysis understands resistance as something that stands in the way of the progress of analytic work during treatment.

The term appeared for the first time in Sigmund Freud's writings in the Studies on Hysteria (1895d), where he reported how he had given up testing the degree of hypnosis of his patients because "this roused the patients' resistances and shook their confidence in me, which I needed for carrying out the more important psychical work" (p. 108).

Freud perceived this resistance through the efforts he had to make in order to get his patient to remember certain painful representations.

In the Freudian psychodynamic approach, this concept refers to the psychic force that the patient opposes to the bringing into consciousness of certain unpleasurable representations during treatment: the psychic force developed to maintain repression.

If the topographical theory led to the idea that psychoanalysis was, in Freud's words, an interpretative art that consisted of making the unconscious conscious, the analyst's task was henceforth to "lead the patient to recognize his resistance and to reckon with it."

Analysis of the resistances thus became one of the cornerstones of analytic technique; analysis of the transference was soon linked with it.

In "The Dynamics of Transference" (1912b), Freud wondered why transference, the most effective among the factors of success, could become the most powerful agent of resistance.

He was thus led to distinguish between positive and negative transference, and to conclude that "transference to the doctor is suitable for resistance to the treatment only in so far as it is a negative transference or a positive transference of repressed erotic impulses."

Freud agreed that nothing in analysis is more difficult than overcoming the resistances.

However, these phenomena are valuable because they make it possible to bring to light patients' secret and forgotten emotions of love; above all, by endowing these with a sense of immediacy, the resistances facilitate the recognition of these emotions, because, as Freud put it in a well-known formulation, "it is impossible to destroy anyone in absentia or in effigie" (1912b, p. 108).

Instead of remembering, the patient reproduces attitudes and feelings from his or her life, which, through the transference, can be used as means of resistance against the treatment and against the therapist.

It is as if the patient's intention to confound the analyst, make him feel his impotence, triumph over him, becomes more powerful that his or her intention to bring an end to his or her illness.

The article "Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through (Further Recommendations on the Technique of Psycho-Analysis II)"(1914g) marked a turning point where the discovery of repetition compulsion put an end to an illusion: Freud admitted that naming the resistance still did not make it disappear immediately.

Analytic technique purported to be an art of interpretation that focused above all on recognizing the resistances and communicating them to the patient.

Discovering that "The greater the resistance, the more extensively will acting out (repetition) replace remembering" (p. 151), Freud recognized the importance of the need for working-through (durcharbeiten) "One must allow the patient time to become more conversant with this resistance with which he has now become acquainted, to work through it, to overcome it, by continuing, in defiance of it, the analytic work according to the fundamental rule of analysis" (p. 155).

Freud constantly reiterated that it is the working-through of the resistances that offers the patient the greatest chance of change.


In the chapter "Resistance and Repression" in Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916-17 [1915-17]), Freud underscored the forms of the resistances, which are very diversified, extremely refined, and often difficult to recognize, and their protean character—attributes that require the physician to be cautious and to remain on guard against them.

Thus, during treatment, phenomena such as gaps in memory, screen-memories, overabundant production of dreams, cessation of free association, avoidance of causal links, judgments about the insignificance of thoughts that come to mind, or even flight into treatment may all be understood as forms of resistance.

But it was the most paradoxical forms of resistance—repetition compulsion and the negative therapeutic reaction—which Freud linked to unconscious feelings of guilt, that gave his study of the resistances its full amplitude.


In Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926d), Freud returned to the forms of the resistances and distinguished those of the ego, the id, and the superego.

The first type is under the aegis of the pleasure principle and includes three possibilities: resistance to the lifting of repression, resistance to the loss of secondary gains from illness, and transference resistance, which aims to maintain repression.

The second, resistance of the id, corresponds to "the power of the compulsion to repeat" (1926d, p. 159) and necessitates working-through.

The third, resistance of the superego, comes out of the feeling of guilt and the need for punishment, which stand in the way of successful treatment; this type was later described as a negative therapeutic reaction, itself linked to the death instinct.


If Freud remained reticent on the intrinsic nature of the resistances while underscoring their variability, richness, and solidity, he always believed that the patient's work on his or her own resistances was indispensable to the success of the treatment, even positing in his last writings that this work alone carried in it the potential for real and lasting change in the ego.


Analysts after Freud have done relatively little further work on the manifestations of resistance during treatment.

However, Melanie Klein, by seeing resistance essentially as a manifestation of negative transference, paved the way for a certain number of other studies, notably those of Wilfred Bion, who described psychotic resistance as "attacks on linking."


See Also

References

  1. Freud, 1900a: SE V, 517
  2. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p.30
  3. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.78; Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.333ff
  4. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.43
  5. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.275
  6. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.321
  7. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.271
  8. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.228
  9. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.235
  10. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book III. The Psychoses, 1955-56. Trans. Russell Grigg. London: Routledge, 1993. p.48
  11. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.228
  12. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.228
  13. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.127
  14. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book II. The Ego in Freud's Theory and in the Technique of Psychoanalysis, 1954-55. Trans. Sylvana Tomaselli. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge Unviersity Press, 1988. p.321
  15. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.168
  1. Freud, Sigmund. (1912b). The dynamics of transference. SE, 12: 97-108.
  2. ——. (1914g). Remembering, repeating and working-through (further recommendations on the technique of psycho-analysis II). SE, 12: 145-156.
  3. ——. (1916-17a [1915-17]). Introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. Parts I and II. SE, 15-16.
  4. ——. (1926d [1925]). Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety. SE, 20: 75-172.
  5. Freud, Sigmund, and Breuer, Josef. (1895d). Studies on hysteria. SE, 2: 48-106.

More

Psychoanalysis understands resistance as something that stands in the way of the progress of analytic work during treatment.

The term appeared for the first time in Sigmund Freud's writings in the Studies on Hysteria (1895d), where he reported how he had given up testing the degree of hypnosis of his patients because "this roused the patients' resistances and shook their confidence in me, which I needed for carrying out the more important psychical work" (p. 108).

Freud perceived this resistance through the efforts he had to make in order to get his patient to remember certain painful representations.

In the Freudian psychodynamic approach, this concept refers to the psychic force that the patient opposes to the bringing into consciousness of certain unpleasurable representations during treatment: the psychic force developed to maintain repression.

If the topographical theory led to the idea that psychoanalysis was, in Freud's words, an interpretative art that consisted of making the unconscious conscious, the analyst's task was henceforth to "lead the patient to recognize his resistance and to reckon with it."

Analysis of the resistances thus became one of the cornerstones of analytic technique; analysis of the transference was soon linked with it.

In "The Dynamics of Transference" (1912b), Freud wondered why transference, the most effective among the factors of success, could become the most powerful agent of resistance.

He was thus led to distinguish between positive and negative transference, and to conclude that "transference to the doctor is suitable for resistance to the treatment only in so far as it is a negative transference or a positive transference of repressed erotic impulses."

Freud agreed that nothing in analysis is more difficult than overcoming the resistances.

However, these phenomena are valuable because they make it possible to bring to light patients' secret and forgotten emotions of love; above all, by endowing these with a sense of immediacy, the resistances facilitate the recognition of these emotions, because, as Freud put it in a well-known formulation, "it is impossible to destroy anyone in absentia or in effigie" (1912b, p. 108).

Instead of remembering, the patient reproduces attitudes and feelings from his or her life, which, through the transference, can be used as means of resistance against the treatment and against the therapist.

It is as if the patient's intention to confound the analyst, make him feel his impotence, triumph over him, becomes more powerful that his or her intention to bring an end to his or her illness.

The article "Remembering, Repeating and Working-Through (Further Recommendations on the Technique of Psycho-Analysis II)"(1914g) marked a turning point where the discovery of repetition compulsion put an end to an illusion: Freud admitted that naming the resistance still did not make it disappear immediately.

Analytic technique purported to be an art of interpretation that focused above all on recognizing the resistances and communicating them to the patient.

Discovering that "The greater the resistance, the more extensively will acting out (repetition) replace remembering" (p. 151), Freud recognized the importance of the need for working-through (durcharbeiten) "One must allow the patient time to become more conversant with this resistance with which he has now become acquainted, to work through it, to overcome it, by continuing, in defiance of it, the analytic work according to the fundamental rule of analysis" (p. 155).

Freud constantly reiterated that it is the working-through of the resistances that offers the patient the greatest chance of change.


In the chapter "Resistance and Repression" in Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1916-17 [1915-17]), Freud underscored the forms of the resistances, which are very diversified, extremely refined, and often difficult to recognize, and their protean character—attributes that require the physician to be cautious and to remain on guard against them.

Thus, during treatment, phenomena such as gaps in memory, screen-memories, overabundant production of dreams, cessation of free association, avoidance of causal links, judgments about the insignificance of thoughts that come to mind, or even flight into treatment may all be understood as forms of resistance.

But it was the most paradoxical forms of resistance—repetition compulsion and the negative therapeutic reaction—which Freud linked to unconscious feelings of guilt, that gave his study of the resistances its full amplitude.


In Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926d), Freud returned to the forms of the resistances and distinguished those of the ego, the id, and the superego.

The first type is under the aegis of the pleasure principle and includes three possibilities: resistance to the lifting of repression, resistance to the loss of secondary gains from illness, and transference resistance, which aims to maintain repression.

The second, resistance of the id, corresponds to "the power of the compulsion to repeat" (1926d, p. 159) and necessitates working-through.

The third, resistance of the superego, comes out of the feeling of guilt and the need for punishment, which stand in the way of successful treatment; this type was later described as a negative therapeutic reaction, itself linked to the death instinct.


If Freud remained reticent on the intrinsic nature of the resistances while underscoring their variability, richness, and solidity, he always believed that the patient's work on his or her own resistances was indispensable to the success of the treatment, even positing in his last writings that this work alone carried in it the potential for real and lasting change in the ego.


Analysts after Freud have done relatively little further work on the manifestations of resistance during treatment.

However, Melanie Klein, by seeing resistance essentially as a manifestation of negative transference, paved the way for a certain number of other studies, notably those of Wilfred Bion, who described psychotic resistance as "attacks on linking."




For example, the agency instituting repression must be derived from the ego, the conscious part of the mind. Yet, patients on the couch behaved as if this agency was unconscious by manifesting resistance. That is, when dangerous or distasteful topics began to emerge during free association, the patient would cease to talk freely, claim that no thoughts occurred to him, say that he had forgotten what was being discussed, or in other ways become evasive. Freud said that the force which instituted the repression and maintains it is perceived as resistance during the work of analysis. (SE, XIX.14)