Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved.
Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology
How to Cite
Cogan, R. 2010. Repetition Compulsion. Corsini Encyclopedia of Psychology. 1–2.
- Published Online: 30 JAN 2010
One remarkable feature of the human condition is that people repeat unhappy or troublesome experiences. As he developed psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud recognized that the unrelenting repetition of unhappy experiences was a hallmark of psychopathology. In 1914, in “Remembering, Repeating, and Working Through,” Freud (1914/1958) described the repetition compulsion, in which a patient in psychoanalysis repeats something important from the past without recognizing the repetition. Freud noted that the compulsion to repeat often occurs at the beginning of treatment and also when the transference is hostile or intense. As the meaning of the repetition becomes clearer, it becomes increasingly possible for analyst and analysand to recognize and talk about the conflicts in the mind involved in the repetition. Understanding the mental conflict helps to reduce the pressure of the unconscious conflict and the compulsion to repeat.
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