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Tact

TACT

The notion of tact is basic to psychoanalytic knowhow, implicit in the work of Sigmund Freud, and explicit in that of Sándor Ferenczi. In France, for example, it was developed by Sacha Nacht under the category of "presence of the psychoanalyst."

This deceptively simple notion, to which Ferenczi returned a number of times in articles he wrote near the end of his life, deserves to be discussed, as he himself did in his article of 1928, "The Elasticity of Psychoanalytic Technique": When and how should something be communicated to the analysand? "It is above all a question of psychological tact, " he replied. "But what is 'tact'? The answer is not very difficult. It is the capacity for empathy. If, with the aid of knowledge we have obtained from the dissection of many minds, but above all from the dissection of our own, we have succeeded in forming a picture of possible or probable associations of the patient's of which he is still completely unaware, we, not having the patient's resistances to contend with, are able to conjecture, not only his withheld thoughts, but trends of his of which he is unconscious" (p. 89).

Ferenczi supplemented the general import of this formulation, making it more widely applicable, because he had been treating patients, who, as a consequence of early traumatism, were affected by a narcissistic split of the self. He postulated the parent-child interactions as the elements "which make the trauma pathogenic," speaking particularly of parental disavowal: "Probably the worst way of dealing with such situations is to deny their existence, to assert that nothing has happened and that nothing is hurting the child. Sometimes he is actually beaten or scolded when he manifests traumatic paralysis of thought and movement. These are the kinds of treatment which make the trauma pathogenic" (1931, p. 138).

In 1932 Ferenczi wrote a corrosive little article whose title alone expressed clearly his insistence on not harming his patients who were in a state of regression: "Repetition in Analysis Worse than Original Trauma." In such patients there is "self-sacrifice of one's own mind's integrity in order to save the parents!" (p. 268); the whole problematic of the idealization and sacrificial function of the mistreated and sexually abused child was again presented; but he insisted: "much encouragement is needed" (p. 138), much tact.

Pierre Sabourin

See also: Elasticity; Nacht, Sacha Emanoel; Technique with adults, psychoanalytic; Tenderness; "'Wild' Psycho-Analysis."

Bibliography

Ferenczi, Sándor. (1928). The elasticity of psycho-analytic technique. In The selected papers of Sándor Ferenczi, Vol. 3. (pp. 87-101) (Michael Balint, Ed.; Eric Mosbacher, et al, Trans.). New York: Basic Books.

. (1931). Child analysis in the analysis of adults. In The selected papers of Sándor Ferenczi, Vol. 3 (pp. 126-42). (Michael Balint, Ed.; Eric Mosbacher, et al, Trans.). New York: Basic Books.

. (1932). Repetition in analysis worse than original trauma. In The selected papers of Sándor Ferenczi, Vol. 3. (Michael Balint, Ed.; Eric Mosbacher, et al, Trans.). New York: Basic Books, 268.

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"Tact." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/psychology/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tact

tact

tact
A. †sense of touch XVII;

B. faculty of mental perception XVIII;

C. sense of propriety, faculty of doing the right thing at the right time XVIII. — (O)F. tact or L. tactus touch, f. *tag-, base of tangere touch. In sense C immed. after F. tact.

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"tact." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"tact." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tact-1

tact

tact / takt/ • n. adroitness and sensitivity in dealing with others or with difficult issues: the inspector broke the news to me with tact and consideration.

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"tact." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved October 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/tact-0

tact

tactabreact, abstract, act, attract, bract, compact, contract, counteract, diffract, enact, exact, extract, fact, humpbacked, hunchbacked, impact, interact, matter-of-fact, pact, protract, redact, refract, retroact, subcontract, subtract, tact, tract, transact, unbacked, underact, untracked •play-act • autodidact •artefact (US artifact) • cataract •contact •marked, unremarked •Wehrmacht •affect, bisect, bull-necked, collect, confect, connect, correct, defect, deflect, deject, detect, direct, effect, eject, elect, erect, expect, infect, inflect, inject, inspect, interconnect, interject, intersect, misdirect, neglect, object, perfect, project, prospect, protect, reflect, reject, respect, resurrect, sect, select, subject, suspect, transect, unchecked, Utrecht •prefect • abject • retroject • intellect •genuflect • idiolect • dialect • aspect •circumspect • retrospect • Dordrecht •vivisect • architect • unbaked •sun-baked

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