Freud, Sigmund. The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Volume 23. Moses and Monotheism, An Outline of Psychoanalysis, Analysis Terminable and Interminable, and other works.
Translated by James Strachey. London: Hogarth Press, 1968.

Notice: Since this is a new addition, and since it was requested from a member of my audience,
I've only included Analysis Terminable and Interminable, so far.
Requests for additional material will be considered and responded to.

Analysis Terminable and Interminable (1937)

Editor's Notes:

(p. 211) (1) In this text, Freud gives the impression of pessimism in regard to the therapeutic efficacy of psychoanalysis by stressing the limitations of his invention. (212) But this is not remarkable as he has often made such statements. For instance, in the New Introductory Lectures (22:151), Freud notes that he has "never been an therapeutic enthusiast."

2) Freud emphasizes the 'constitutional factors' of mental life, i.e., the influences of biology and physiology over the mental.

3) Freud outlines three factors which are decisive for the success of the therapeutic enterprise.

  1. there is a more favorable prognosis for neuroses of a 'traumatic' rather than a 'constitutional' origin.
  2. there is emphasis on the importance of quantitative considerations
  3. and, (213) there is the question of the 'alteration of the ego' in therapy, to which he identifies three points which shed new light on this issue. Strachey claims that Freud took his investigations further than before to come to the conclusion that the alteration of the ego in therapy results in the undoing of repression. That is, previously he saw the therapeutic alteration of the ego as the alterations 'already present as [a] result of the defensive process." (See: "The Neuro Psychoses of Defense" (3:185); Inquisitions and Anxieties (20:157, 159, 164); New Introductory Lectures (22:90); Moses and Monotheism (23:77); and, An Outline of Psychoanalysis (23:179).)

Strachey points out that the differences expressed here regarding the alteration of the ego appears in the scepticism that Freud expresses in regard to the prophylactic power of psychoanalysis. That is, Freud doubts that it will prevent the return of a neurosis that has already been treated. This scepticism is due to the fact that it requires dealing with conflicts that are not current and therefore it is impossible to treat the patient effectively. (214)

Freud also speaks about the problems of making such conflicts 'current', i.e., reanimating them. Freud then indicates that since 'current' conflicts can't be separated from the 'latent' ones, the prophylactic success of psychoanalysis is determined by quantitative considerations. That is, psychoanalysis results in a relative increase in the strength of the ego and a concurrent relative decrease in the strength of the instincts. (See: An Outline of Psychoanalysis (23:Chapter VIII; 179).)

Analysis Terminable and Interminable (1937)


216) Freud notes that he has often attempted to shorten the duration of analysis but most of the methods cannot stand up to critical examination. But he found one way of doing so with "Wolf-man," which is placing a time limit on the therapy. (217) Still, as Freud points, out this was not good enough in the "Wolf- man's" case simply because residuals of the transference remained. (218)

Freud comments on this 'black-mail" device as an effective measure to end analysis that provided one recognizes the right time for employing this method, still it cannot guarantee completely accomplishing the task.


219) Therefore the question is: is there anything as a natural end to analysis? And, what exactly is meant by 'end of analysis'?

For Freud, the termination of analysis occurs when:

  1. the patient no longer suffers from his symptoms and has overcome his anxieties and inhibitions.
  2. and, when the analyst judges that so much repressed material has been made conscious that there is no need to fear a repetition of the pathological processes which are involved.
    For this reason Freud feels it is better to speak of an 'incomplete' analysis rather than an 'unfinished' one.
220) Although many analysts have success with the patients and can end their sessions, the resolution of the problems may not last. (221) Freud uses his analysis of Ferenczi as an example: it was successful and the analysis was terminated, but Ferenczi later broke down once more. (This could be evidence of Freud's disappointment of one of his first 'golden boys' who were slotted to take over his position as leader of the movement as well as his discomfort with Ferenczi's developing therapeutic methods.)

According to Freud, in Ferenczi's case the were two issues which got in the way of full recovery: 1) there was never a purely positive transference between patient and analyst. Hence the illness may return, i.e. if there is a negative transference that wasn't deal with, it is because it was not visible. (222) 2) a patient may become ill once more from the same source as was the origin of the first illness, i.e., it may appear as a different manifestation of the same repressed impulses which the analyst only incompletely resolved. (Freud points to hysterical women as a second example.)

223) Freud goes on to note, however, that the two examples chosen belong to the early history of psychoanalytical work. He continues to justify these examples by noting that it is obvious that the more recent the example of a successful analysis, the less utilizable it is for this discussion since there is no meas of predicting it's ultimate outcome.


224) Freud indicates that there are three decisive factors for success in analysis:
  1. the influence of traumas
  2. the constitutional strengths
  3. the alteration of the ego
He takes us into an exposition of the constitutional strengths - the strength of the instincts. (225) The task of analysis is "taming" the instincts. That is, the instincts are brought into complete harmony with the ego and become accessible to the influences of the all other trends in the ego and no longer seek to go its own way - seeking satisfaction.

Freud turns to the opposition between the primary and secondary processes to further elucidate the argument. He notes that the project of 'taming' the instincts must account for the relative strength of any particular instinct. It is necessary to assume that what analysis achieves for neurotics is nothing other that what ordinary people bring about themselves without help. The difference is, however, that for the normal person any solution of an instinctual conflict only holds good in a particular relation to the strength of the instinct and to the strength of the ego. (226) If the ego becomes weaker all instincts become stronger. The proof is dreaming at night.

Freud notes that the strength of instincts is equally unambiguous, i.e., they are reinforced twice - at puberty and at menopause. Therefore, Freud is not surprised that one becomes neurotic during these periods. He also notes that the same things which reinforce these instincts at such times may irregularly be active during another period of one's life. They are usually brought about through 'accidental means.'

227) Freud goes on to note a possible objection to his argument thus far. The objection might follow as such: Freud's argument is all deduced from process which occur simultaneously between the ego and the instincts, and presupposes that therapy does not accomplish anything which doesn't't occur under favorable, normal conditions. His answer to this supposed objection surrounds the issue of repression (see: Repression (14:148).) He notes that various forms of repression are built upon childhood repressions and analysis allows for the 'unbinding' of such repressed material. The task of psychoanalysis is to revise and demolish repressions; normal life cannot do away with infantile repressions.

228) Freud goes on to state:

"it would mean that analysis sometimes succeeds in eliminating the influence of an increase in instincts, but not invariably, or that the effect of analysis is limited to increasing the power of resistance of the inhibitions, so that they are equal to much greater demands than before the analysis, if no analysis had taken place." In such situations, there are nearly always some 'residual phenomena'. For instance, the erotogenic phases appear gradually but also along side of fixations, inhibitions, and the like. For Freud this suggests a certain degree of inherent primitivism in each of us, he writes: "what has once come to life clings tenaciously to its existence. One feels inclined to doubt sometimes whether the dragons of primeval days are really extinct."

Terms of the Analytic Problem:

The endeavors to replace repressions that are insecure with a reliable ego, what he calls the 'syntonic controls,' dose not always achieve the full extent of the goal. That is, analysis is never thorough enough and, as such, it is only partially successful. Freud indicates that the impressions he's relieved in analysis seems to prove this. (230) Therapy has not always succeeded in ensuring a significant degree of development of the foundations on which control of the instincts is based. This, he notes, is due to the imperfect control of the mature ego over the instincts.


Freud looks at two further questions in this section.
  1. Can the analyst protect the patient from future instinctual conflicts while in treatment? What is the strength of the prophylactic nature of psychoanalysis?
  2. Is it feasible to stir-up one conflict, for preventative purposes, which has not manifested itself at that time?
He feels it is obvious that the first item can only be carried out so far as the second can be addressed. That is, it works only insofar as a possible future conflict is turned into an actually present one upon which the psychoanalyst's influence is then applied. For Freud this amounts to guarding against the possible replacement of an old conflict with a new one, as well as guarding against the return of the original conflict. (231) Still, if an instinctual conflict is not manifest - analysis cannot help it but shouldn't let 'sleeping dogs lie' either, because 'they rarely do sleep.' This is to say, that if there are instinctual conflicts 'really sleeping' in the psyche that there is nothing in our power to do away with them.

Freud notes that there are two ways of making such dormant conflicts active:

  1. use situations in which the conflict does become active
  2. content ourselves with merely talking about it and pointing out the possibility of it arising.
The former method is achievable through two means: in a) reality, or b) in transference. (232) Freud reminds us that analysis works best when the ego can look at the conflicts from a distance, i.e., when the conflicts come out of the past. Therefore, creating fresh conflicts would only serve to prolong the analysis and to make it more difficult. In analytic prophylaxis against instinctual conflicts the only methods which come into consideration are: 1) the artificial production of new conflicts in the transference, and (233) 2) arousing such conflicts in the patient's imagination by talking to him about them and making him familiar with them.

The first method does not require technical purposes. It also is not necessarily sufficient, i.e., not all conflicts can come out. Furthermore, the attempt to artificially bring out such conflicts may have a damaging effect on the patient. That is, the patient's affectionate attitude is the strongest motive of the patient's share in the work of analysis.

This means that only the latter technique is left to analysts. That is, the arousal of the patient's expectations that other instinctual conflicts may possible appear. Still, this method is problematic insofar as the expected result may not occur - that the analyst may only increase the patient's awareness but nothing is stopped. Hence, concludes Freud, theoretical enlightenment of such possible conflicts does nothing more than inform the patient about their possibility.


234) Freud indicates that there is actually a possibility for permanent cures. This is possible in terms of the alteration of the ego (the third factor in the success of analysis). (235) Ideally, the task is to enlist the ego to help in the analysis, but it is to some extent or another psychotic at the time.

Alterations of the ego appear as either: 1) congenital or 2) acquired (the second is said to be easier to treat - via the mechanisms of defense which are set up during the ego's development). (237) Freud goes on to note that since the ego cannot flee from instinctual danger, the defense mechanisms are condemned to falsify one's internal perception and only provide an imperfect and distorted picture of one's id.

238) The energy use for maintaining the defenses is a heavy burden in the psychic economy. And, the adult ego continues to defend itself against dangers which no longer exist in reality. For Freud, the defenses constitute one-half of the analysis and the id's hidden secretes the other half. The crux is that the defenses contribute to resistances against recovery. It follows, therefore, that the ego treats recovery as a new danger.

Freud notes that the defenses are easier to identify than is the hidden material of the id. It is often the case that during analysis the ego withdraws from the 'analyst's pact' and therefore ceases to support the analyst's efforts at uncovering the id. The ego even goes so far as to oppose this project. (239) The process is described as a situation in which the patient feels a fresh activation of the defenses and a negative transference, when under the influence of the unpleasure caused by analysis. Consequently, the defenses and the negative transference may gain the upper hand and completely annul the analytic situation. Freud outlines this argument in the following comment: "Thus we see there is a resistance against the uncovering of resistances, and the defense mechanisms really do deserve the name which we gave them originally, before they had been more closely examined." (240) Thus, he concludes, it is easy to understand that the outcome of analysis depends essentially on the strength and on the depth of the roots of these resistances which bring about the alteration of the ego.


(240) Freud poses the question: is every alteration of the ego (as used above) acquired during the defensive struggles of one's earliest years? His response is manifold. First, each ego is endowed at the start with individual dispositions and trends - even if we cannot specify their nature or what it is that determines them. Second, it is important to not exaggerate the difference between inherited and acquired characteristics such that they are seen as existing in an antithesis. Next, is the 'archaic heritage' which is usually fond only in the id since the ego is not yet formed because the ego and the id are originally one thing.

There is a second type of resistance that needs consideration. This is the type which shows the "adhesiveness of the libido." In such cases, the process proceeds much slower - apparently because they cannot 'make up their minds' to detach libidinal cathexes from one object and displace them elsewhere. (241) The opposite types are also found but unfortunately in the results of analysis they often turn out to be impermanent.

242) Freud then considers resistances coming from the id. That is all psychical relationships are unchangeable, rigid, and fixed.

243) Freud notes that it is not possible to elucidate the processes involved in the concurrent or mutually opposing action of the two primal instincts working together to keep the illness in place. (244) Freud uses bisexuals as his example of these conditions: the two sexual trends are not clashing at all. This leads one to the understanding that the tendency to conflict is something special which is newly added to the situation, irrespective of the quantity of libido.

245) Freud refers to Empedocles of Acragas' Girgenti (495 BC) as well as William Capelle's Die Vorsokratinen (Leipzig, 1935) also suggests the dichotomy between erotic (love) and aggressive (strife) instincts.


Freud makes comments about the need for analysts to undergo analysis periodically.

247) Analysts must be aware of their errors and mistakes and learn to get over the weak points of their personalities (Ferenczi is the continued example) in order to be more successful with their patients. (248) The analyst must achieve some level of mental correctness and normality as well as be able to work in complete honesty.

249) But it seems that a number of analysts lean to make use of defense mechanisms which allow them to divert the implications and demands of analysis form themselves so that they themselves remain as they are and are able to withdrawal from the critical and corrective influences of analysis. Every analyst should periodically (every five years) submit to further analysis. Freud justifies this by pointing out that all the work with repressed instinctual forces can't help but stir them up again which the analysts must often suppress anew. "The would mean, then, that not only the therapeutic analysis of patient's but his own analysis would changed from a terminable to an interminable task."


250) Freud identifies two themes which cause trouble in both therapeutic and character analyses. These themes are tied to the distinction between the sexes, i.e., one is characteristic of the male and the other of the female. In women, Freud says, we find penis envy; in men, we find a struggle against employing a passive attitude in relation to other male(s) - i.e., the father. This latter problem is identified as a relative reaction to the castration complex and is more of a masculine protest (Adler). The male's striving for masculinity is ego-syntonic all the time but (251) in the case of women, this attempt away from passivity is only ego-syntonic during a certain period - i.e., the phallic phase - before the development of femininity has set in.

Freud goes on to note that generally it is the attitude deemed 'proper' to the opposite sex which is repressed. But this does not mean that the repressed is necessarily sexualized. Rather it based in biological grounds rather than psychical ones.

The essay goes on to discuss Ferenczi further.

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