Resistance Revisited: Disillusionment, Hierarchies and the Brain

Abstract

With the proliferation of new psychoanalytic theories and methods, some concepts, such as resistance and free association, have been cast aside. This paper looks at a pattern of forward motion and retreat that characterizes defense, but with a significant twist. The author maintains that there is an alternation between patients’ novel observations about themselves and their families and a logical sounding, authoritative dismissal of all they had just described. Considerations of left and right hemisphere functioning that echo this clinical pattern, the idea of powerful illusions being shed and the ubiquity of hierarchies are considered. A case for the importance of retaining the concept of resistance—that is, stopping the forward motion of treatment—is considered. Implications for the length of psychoanalytic treatment and the role of authority are discussed.

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Correspondence to Joan S. Lentz.

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Joan S. Lentz, Ph.D. is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Minnesota Psychoanalytic Society and Institute in Minneapolis, MN.

Address correspondence to: Joan S. Lentz, Ph.D., 825 Nicolett Mall, Suite 845; Minneapolis, MN 55402, USA. E-mail: joanlentz@gmail.com.

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Lentz, J.S. Resistance Revisited: Disillusionment, Hierarchies and the Brain. Am J Psychoanal 80, 133–150 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1057/s11231-020-09250-2

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Keywords

  • neuroscience
  • brain hemispheres
  • defense
  • resistance
  • hierarchies