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Intimate distance: the unconscious dimensions of the rapport between researcher and researched

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  • Medicine
  • Psychology


To explore how psychoanalysis might contribute to the methodology of human geography, this article returns to Freud’s experiences of psycho-logical analysis before he develops psychoanalysis as a distinct understanding of the mind, identity formation, and subjectivity. Going back over the early history of psychoanalysis, Freud’s psychoanalysis can be seen as an attempt to solve a set of problems inherent in late nineteenth-century psycho-logical analysis. Thus, it is possible to cast his methodological solutions in a new light. In particular, this article explores the problems associated with the unconscious rapport that developed in the therapeutic use of hypnotism in the cure of hysterical symptoms, for both doctor and patient. Freud’s techniques can be seen as a way to produce an appropriate detachment—or intimate distance—between himself and his clients. This intimate distance is instructive. As a corrective to certain trajectories within human geography, this article identifies five methodological propositions that might inform future research.

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