Difference between revisions of "Resistance"

From No Subject - Encyclopedia of Psychoanalysis
Jump to: navigation, search
(See Also)
Line 1: Line 1:
[[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."<ref>Freud, 1900a: SE V, 517</ref>
[[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 [[resistance]]s.
==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.<ref>{{S1}} p.30</ref>
[[Lacan]] argues that this overlooks the structural nature of
resistatice and reduces analysis to an imaginary dual relation <ref>{{E}} p.78; {{Ec}} p.333ff</ref>
[[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."<ref>{{S2}} p.43</ref>
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."<ref>{{E}} p.275</ref>
Therefore there is a certain irreducible level of [[resistance]] which can never be 'overcome'.
"After the reduction of the [[resistance]]s, there is a residue which may be what is essential."<ref>{{S2}} p.321</ref>
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]].
<blockquote>"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]]."<ref>{{E}} p.271</ref></blockquote>
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.<ref>{{S2}} p.228</ref>
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."<ref>{{E}} p.235</ref>
This is to be understood in two ways:
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."<ref>{{S3}} p.48</ref>
Thus the [[analyst]] must follow the rule of neutrality and not be drawn into the [[lures]] set for him by the [[patient]].
It is the [[analyst]] who provokes [[resistance]] by pushing the [[analysand]]:
"There is no resistance on the part of the subject."<ref>{{S2}} p.228</ref>
"[[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."<ref>{{S2}} p.228</ref>
[[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]]."<ref>{{S2}} p.127</ref>
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]]."<ref>{{S2}} p.321</ref>
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 [[resistance]]s of the [[ego]] are [[imaginary]] [[lures]], which the [[analyst]] must be wary of being [[deceived]] by.<ref>{{E}} p.168</ref>
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 [[defence]]s are relatively stable [[symbolic]] [[structure]]s of [[subjectivity]], [[resistance]]s are more transitory forces which prevent the [[object]] from being absorbed in the [[signifying chain]].
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==
* [[Acting out]]
* [[Change]]
* [[Character]]
* [[Cure]]
* [[Defense]]
* [[Development of Psycho-Analysis]]
* [[Doubt]]
* [[Ego]]
* [[The Ego and the Id]]
* [[Fundamental rule]]
* [[Id]]
* [[Interpretation]]
* [[Psychoanalyst]]
* [[Repressed]]
* [[Repression]]
* [[Silence]]
* [[Superego]]
* [[End of analysis]]
* [[Transference]]
# Freud, Sigmund. (1912b). The dynamics of transference. SE, 12: 97-108.
# ——. (1914g). Remembering, repeating and working-through (further recommendations on the technique of psycho-analysis II). SE, 12: 145-156.
# ——. (1916-17a [1915-17]). Introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. Parts I and II. SE, 15-16.
# ——. (1926d [1925]). Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety. SE, 20: 75-172.
# Freud, Sigmund, and Breuer, Josef. (1895d). Studies on hysteria. SE, 2: 48-106.
[[Category:Jacques Lacan]]

Revision as of 12:16, 30 July 2006