Resistance in a psychoanalytic context is anything that works against the progress of therapy and prevents the patient from accessing unconscious material. Resistance then is any idea, attitude, feeling, or action that gets in the way of potential change. During free association, a patient may show an unwillingness to relate to certain thoughts or experiences. Freud views resistance as an unconscious process that people use to protect themselves against intolerable anxiety and pain that might result if they became aware of the repressed feelings.
In therapy, resistance blocks both the patient and therapist from gaining insight into the processes of the unconscious. The analytic therapist's role is to point out resistance when it is observed in hopes that the patient will acknowledge the block and deal with the conflict.
Resistance in psychoanalytic therapy is not something to be rid of, but something that must be dealt with. The anxiety that causes the resistance will not lessen unless the resistance is faced. Having said this, it is important that the analytic therapist respects the resistances of clients and assists them in working therapeuti-cally with their defenses. When handled properly, resistance can be one of the most valuable tools in understanding the patient.
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