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Looking a Hundred Years Back: Remarks on the Concept of "Wishing" in Psychoanalysis

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While the concepts of "wish" and "wish fulfillment" have indeed remained central since the start of classical psychoanalysis, they are only weakly anchored both in theory and practice. It has become common today for psychoanalysts to use the term "to wish" in the sense of "to want" or "to intend." As a first step, it will be emphasized that "wish" should not be constructed along the lines of "intention." An examination of the relationship of "wish" to "wish fulfillment" is then followed by an evaluation of its practical significance for psychoanalysis and for our understanding of mental life in a general sense. Turning to an example dream sequence, we will arrive at the psychoanalytic core of the issue: the assumption of hidden, non-obvious, non-recognizable wish fulfillment scenarios. At this point in the discussion, a method of access will be sketched out – the dramaturgical approach – that, although it makes use of the idea of free association, does so in a manner that diverges from Freud's original recommendation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2002

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