The Truth about Freud’s Technique

The Truth about Freud’s Technique: The Encounter with the Real.

ISBN: 08-1478206-4
Cloth, 296pp, 1994
NYU Press, NY

NYU Press

ISBN: 08-1478219-1
Trade paper, 296pp, 1995
NYU Press, NY

NYU Press

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The Truth About Freud’s Technique

The Encounter with the Real

In this provocative and much-needed reappraisal of Freud’s clinical technique, M. Guy Thompson challenges the conventional notion that psychoanalysis only promotes relief from suffering and suggests that its principal goal if more radical: to mend our relationship with the real, a relationship that has been fractured by our resistance to suffering instead of suffering itself. By telling the truth about our most cherished secrets, psychoanalysis helps us confront the realities we have avoided, by encountering them in the analytic experience.

Thompson forcefully disagrees with the dismissal of Freud as obsolete and argues for a return to a forgotten, inherently philosophical Freud who was rooted in a Greek preoccupation with the nature of truth, ethics, and our relationships with others. Through an exhaustive examination of Freud’s technical papers, Thompson shows how the evolution of psychoanalytic technique has veered away from its earlier, more spontaneous style. Situating his arguments in a stunning critique of Freud’s conception of the cure, he includes a new evaluation of Freud’s analyses of Dora and the Rat Man in light of Heidegger’s understanding of truth.

THE TRUTH ABOUT FREUD’S TECHNIQUE is an original and compelling reappraisal of psychoanalysis that will shatter contemporary stereotypes about the nature of “classical” technique by revealing a more personal and humanistic Freud than we suspected. This book will be of interest to anyone who wants to reconsider Freud’s relevance to contemporary clinical practice.


“M. Guy Thompson is already well known for his book THE DEATH OF DESIRE. In THE TRUTH ABOUT FREUD’S TECHNIQUE the author continues his enlightening conversation between the psychoanalytic tradition and Continental philosophy. Dr. Thompson makes the radical and also hopeful claim that psychoanalysis is not about relief from suffering . . . This book is full of surprising insights and analyses . . . Philosophers will find in this book a challenging conception of truth.”

— Wilfried Ver Eecke, Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University,
Author of Saying ‘No’

“A compelling account of the directness and deeply personal engagement that characterized Freud’s work with patients.”

— Joseph H. Smith,
Founding Editor, 1976-93, Psychiatry and the Humanities

“M. Guy Thompson, in a remarkably erudite book, has managed to rescue Freud from his disciples and to reacquaint us with his great subtlety and, most important, striking contemporary relevance. Much of the present lively psychoanalytic debate was clearly foreshadowed by Thompson’s Freud and we must be grateful to him for this rich exegesis.”

— Edgar A. Levenson, Director of Training,
William Alanson White Psychoanalytic Institute