Thinkingthought Theories Of

See WHORF-SAPIR HYPOTHESIS/THEORY.

THIRD EAR HYPOTHESIS. This theoretical notion was developed and advanced by the Austrian-born American psychoanalyst Theodor Reik (1888-1969) to denote an experienced analyst's interpretation faculty/ability whereby he/she "hears" things (figuratively speaking) in the patient's/client's words that may not be apparent to an untrained listener. The phrase listening with the third ear refers to empathetic capability whereby a therapist acquires a special sensitivity to the unspoken thoughts and feelings behind the patient's spoken words. The term was used originally in the 1800s by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), but was elaborated more fully in the psychoanalytic milieu by Reik in 1948. Thus, with the trained/intuitive third ear, the analyst may interpret the deeper meanings of the utterances of the patient. For example, the patient's overtly spoken words, "My father was a good man," may be interpreted by the therapist to actually mean "Though I feel my father was a moral individual, I never really loved him, but only respected him" (cf., the psychoanalytic/Freudian concept of transference - a form of psychic displacement, or defense mechanism, involving the rechanneling of attitudes and emotions from their original source/object onto a substitute, such as may occur when the patient displays childlike/dependent reactions, including both aggressive and sexual behaviors, toward the therapist/analyst; such transference behavior, theoretically, is a carryover from the patient's earlier relationships, in particular regarding the relationship between the patient and his or her parents/guardians). See also FREUD'S THEORY OF PERSONALITY.

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