The containing function and the analyst's projective identification.
ABSTRACT The concept of the container and the contained in psychoanalysis describes a process whereby the patient's projective identifications are internalized by the analyst, transformed, given meaning, and returned to the patient in a useful fashion. In this paper, it is suggested that what the analyst gives back, and what the patient receives, is the analyst's projective identification. The containing function itself can be transmitted to the patient via this mechanism. All interpretation, from whatever theoretical viewpoint, has an element of containing and therefore projective identification on the part of the analyst. Paradoxically, neutrality itself can be considered a vehicle for projective identification. Previously, the role of the therapist's projective identification in the containing process has been implied, but not discussed.
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Article: Normal and pathological altruism.[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The psychoanalytic literature on altruism is sparse, although much has been written on this topic from a sociobiological perspective. Freud (1917) first described the concept in "Libido Theory and Narcissism." In 1946 Anna Freud coined the term "altruistic surrender" to describe the psychodynamics of altruistic behavior in a group of inhibited individuals who were neurotically driven to do good for others. The usefulness and clinical applicability of this formulation, in conjunction with the frequent coexistence of masochism and altruism, encouraged psychoanalysts to regard all forms of altruism as having masochistic underpinnings. Since then, there has been a conflation of the two concepts in much of the analytic literature. This paper reexamines the psychoanalytic understanding of altruism and proposes an expansion of the concept to include a normal form. Five types of altruism are described: protoaltruism, generative altruism, conflicted altruism, pseudoaltruism, and psychotic altruism. Protoaltruism has biological roots and can be observed in animals. In humans, protoaltruism includes maternal and paternal nurturing and protectiveness. Generative altruism is the nonconflictual pleasure in fostering the success and/or welfare of another. Conflicted altruism is generative altruism that is drawn into conflict, but in which the pleasure and satisfaction of another (a proxy) is actually enjoyed. Pseudoaltruism originates in conflict and serves as a defensive cloak for underlying sadomasochism. Psychotic altruism is defined as the sometimes bizarre forms of caretaking behavior and associated self-denial seen in psychotic individuals, and often based on delusion. We consider Anna Freud's altruistic surrender to combine features of both conflict-laden altruism and pseudoaltruism. Two clinical illustrations are discussed.Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 02/2001; 49(3):933-59. · 0.79 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The author deals with the difficulties in combining the concepts of trauma and phantasy. He evaluates Freudian observations relating to chance and trauma. He considers traumatic effects of chance in relation to the rupture of a narcissistic phantasy of invulnerability. The narrating of traumatic events may awaken in the analyst tendencies to repeat the aggression of these traumatic events towards the subject. The accusatory interpretation can be one of the means by which this repetition is established. The author explores a type of trauma which is essentially related to the disturbance of the structure which contains the ideals of the subject. This disturbance is a consequence of disillusionment resulting from the loss of an object who was the depository of these ideals. Trauma generates a state of mourning for lost ideals. The author describes traumatic events which occurred in a patient's life at puberty; paradoxical behaviours in the patient's parents caused the patient to have new traumas. The reluctance to explore the derivatives of the unconscious, and to investigate possible meaning in symbols, was a central problem in this patient's analysis. The author discusses disturbances in symbolization, and he examines the subject of projective identifications that were received by patients from their primary objects.The International Journal of Psychoanalysis 11/2006; 87(Pt 5):1239-57. · 0.86 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The purpose of this study was to explore how personal therapy influences experienced psychodynamic psychotherapists’ ways of being clinicians, and, by implication, their professional development. A hermeneutic research method, which also drew upon aspects of grounded theory methodology, was therefore devised to explore and examine how personal therapy and professional practice relate to each other and to the therapist’s development, and to deepen this descriptive account into a more differentiated and theoretically viable understanding. In-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight psychodynamic psychotherapists who were working as clinicians and who were concurrently in therapy. Keeping the research objective in mind, a list of questions was developed from the interview material through which the data was re-read and edited. In accordance with the aims of the study, and as suggested by the results of the initial phase of the textual analysis, intersubjective theory, mainly that of Jessica Benjamin, was used to generate a conceptual framework through which the interview material was further interpreted. This foregrounded the shifting power distributions and the varying processes of identification between the treating therapists and the participants. The Jungian notion of the wounded healer was intersubjectively reconfigured as indicating a therapist whose (often unacknowledged) needs and vulnerabilities engender a proclivity to relate to patients as objects rather than subjects. The participants could all be described as having started out their professional lives as wounded healers. The effects of personal therapy on their clinical work were conceptualised in terms of increased abilities for subject-to-subject relating. These were linked to augmented capacities for reflective and symbolic thinking and an enhanced openness to the implicit, unformulated and opaque aspects of experiences in the therapeutic space. Finally an intersubjective model of personal therapy and development as a therapist was generated. It was concluded that because of the focus on the therapeutic relationship as the vehicle for change in psychodynamic psychotherapy, as well as the current increasing emphasis on the use of the therapist’s subjectivity, the therapist’s capacity to engage in and sustain subject-tosubject relating and, by implication, the therapist’s personal therapy, are of pivotal importance for all therapists doing the work of psychodynamic psychotherapy.01/2005;