This paper discusses one of the oldest techniques in the practice of psychoanalysis and perhaps one of the least considered. Freud called it “evenly suspended attention.” It is attention devoid of memory and desire. Access to the unconscious mind is central to this approach and entails techniques of preventing the conscious mind from interfering in defensive ways. The emotional response of the analyst is also critical because it is from this that intuition emerges. Clinical vignettes illustrate what it means to listen with the unconscious mind and how it impacts the analytic process.
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as listeners, we must wait until we have a bigger picture of what is going on to be able to sort things out. As we are listening and waiting, he recommends we let go of our theories of what is hap-pening and be receptive listeners. We don’t want to jump to pre-mature conclusions about what is transpiring and risk leading the patient. Access to the “unconscious memory” is achieved by letting go of the ideas that come into our mind as we listen.
Freud says that when the chaotic disorder of the patient is stored in the unconscious mind of the analyst and is not con-sciously tampered with, it becomes available for links to other pieces of the patient’s material. In this way we gradually come to understand the unconscious of the patient. At the same time, however, this closer connection may trigger emotional turbu-lence that feels disturbing, even dangerous, on an unconscious level to both parties.