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Keywords:

  • interpretation;
  • transference;
  • history of psychoanalysis

Starting with an exploration of how the concept of interpretation in analytical treatment has evolved, the author goes on to discuss the role and importance of interpretation in the changes that psychoanalysis brings about. Although interpretation is looked upon as the key element in psychoanalytic activity, the fact that it is subsumed within the transference raises questions as to its influence in the analytical domain. After discussing the foundations of interpretation with respect to the theory of psychoanalytic treatment and examining Strachey’s views on this, the author defines the conditions and constraints surrounding interpretation and preparatory interventions in order to outline the essential nature of the interpretative process as seen against the wider background of the analyst’s activity as manifested through speech. This leads to a discussion of the relative influence of insight and suggestion in bringing about therapeutic change. The author draws the conclusion that interpretation works as a metaphor in lifting repression.