abstinence rule

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In psychoanalysis, the organization of treatment to minimize the substitutive satisfaction of needs related to symptoms that the patient finds outside the analytic situation, in spite of the frustration and suffering that can result. Sigmund Freud (1856–1939) introduced the rule in an article on ‘Observations on Transference-Love’ (1915): ‘I shall state it as a fundamental principle that the patient's need and longing should be allowed to persist in her, in order that they may serve as forces impelling her to do work and to make changes, and that we must beware of appeasing these forces by means of surrogates’ (Standard Edition, XII, pp. 159–71, at p. 165).

Subjects: Psychology.

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