Sunday, July 29, 2012

Juan Tubert-Oklander - The Nature of the Alpha Function

"So what is the alpha function, after all? Bion did not say it; indeed, he was adamant in his opposition to any premature saturation of the term. I do not claim to have found the "real" meaning of the term, but only a possible one, to be derived from the resonance between psychoanalysis, semiotics, and a theory of development. Of course, if the concept were to resonate with other different points of view, it would be imbued with new meanings.

From this vertex, the alpha function appears as an organizing activity, more specifically, as a classificatory endeavour. The baby's experience is initially an aggregate of disparate elements, which include sensory and organic impressions, as well as those obscure inner motions that adumbrate what later will become the emotions. It is a motley assembly of contrasting items, which cannot be assigned any definite meaning. This is a situation similar to the state of chemical knowledge before Mendeleyev. At that time, a chemist had to memorize the characteristics of every one of the elements, which showed no relation whatsoever among them. It was just a lot of fruitless and dull work. Then came Dmitry Ivanovich Mendeleyev, with his love of pattern, and tried to sort them out. He assumed, as an act of faith, that there had to be an order in Nature, and set out to find it in the chemical realm. He ordered the elements sequentially, by their atomic weight, and soon found out that some features seemed to reappear every eight elements; it was something akin to an octave in music. So he placed the elements in tiers, with eight of them in each one, and found that all the elements in each vertical column had a veritable family resemblance. His belief in this rhythmic distribution was so strong that, when some element seemed to be out of place, he asserted that its atomic weigh must have been wrongly calculated, and he was right! He also went as far as to predict that some element yet undiscovered must exist, whenever he was faced with an empty cell in his table, and he was right again. This, of course, resembles the case of another scientist who shared the Russian chemist's belief in pattern and rhythm: Wilfred Ruprecht Bion and his Grid.

Now, the baby, immersed in a state of confusion and ambiguity, is looking for its Mendeleyev, and finds him in its own mother. Her capacity to be in touch with the emotional experiences that her baby induces in her, to think them through in a sensible and meaningful way, and to act accordingly in order to respond to her offspring's needs, puts the latter's world into order, thus initiating the development of an inner "grid," which is the very foundation of thought.

But there is one important difference between this metaphor and the actual process that seems to take place between the baby and its mother. The classificatory activity carried out by Mendeleyev might have been done on a blackboard, a notebook, or on a table, by distributing cards in heaps; in other words, any classification needs a space or surface on which to distribute the items that are being classified. But in the case of the baby, the classificatory space does not exist before the classificatory effort, but is rather created by that very effort. Thus this putting of the baby's experience into order is the beginning of that inner space that is indispensable for thinking, feeling, imagining, dreaming, or acting in a meaningful way (Tubert-Oklander, 1987).

But the story of Mendeleyev and his Table of the Elements may well be something more than a suitable metaphor. Bion warned us against restricting the use of the concept of the alpha function to a single field of inquiry, so that it will not do to conceive it just as a part of a genetic theory of early development, even though it may well be profitably used in that field. The case of Mendeleyev shows that the alpha function may also be used as a hypothesis for understanding the development of science or knowledge in general—i.e., in epistemological research. From such point of view, Mendeleyev's prowess may be conceived as an instance of the alpha function, and not as its analogue.

This is related to a new term I have introduced in the discussion, that of the act of faith. This is another of Bion's concepts, which is rather ambiguous and unsettling, just as is most of his work. In was introduced in his book Attention and Interpretation, in the following terms:

The discipline that I propose for the analyst, namely avoidance of memory and desire … increases his ability to exercise "acts of faith." An "act of faith" is peculiar to scientific procedure and must be distinguished from the religious meaning with which it is invested in conventional usage; it becomes apprehensible when it can be represented in and by thought. It must "evolve" before it can be apprehended and it is apprehended when it is a thought just as the artist's O is apprehensible when it has been transformed into a work of art. (Bion, 1970, pp. )

So the act of faith seems to be a primary intuition, which underlies all scientific thinking and research: the intuition that the world has an order that we are somehow capable of fathoming, in other words, the intuition that truth exists (Tubert-Oklander, 2008b). It was only the intuition that there was some meaning there to be found that kept Mendeleyev working to make sense out of haphazard chemical knowledge, Champollion out of the undecipherable hieroglyphics on the Rosetta stone, and Freud out of the mumbo-jumbo of dreams. It is the very same faith that drives the mother to find a meaning—and, perhaps, also construct a meaning—for her baby's seemingly unrelated expressions. And this capacity for faith may also, perhaps, be the outcome of a good and fruitful experience of being contained, understood, nourished, and loved by a caring mother— an aspect of what Erik Erikson (1987) called "basic trust."

If this were the case, Bion's work and thought might be relevant for a much wider field of knowledge than the theory and practice of psychoanalysis, since it provides the rudiments of a general theory of thought and knowledge, integrated with emotional experience and personal relations. Just as semiotics has evolved from mere linguistics into a wide discipline that studies such apparently dissimilar phenomena as sign language, dressing codes, manners, family and social organization, architectural codes, advertising, the structure of short stories and other narratives, the meaning of objects in everyday life, and heraldry, Bion's theory of thinking may well be carried much further than the ordinary limits of psychoanalysis, into the realms of anthropology, social psychology, political science, episte-mology, and also, of course, semiotics. In the meantime, the concept of the alpha function remains—and most probably shall remain—as unsaturated as Bion bequeathed it to us. From this perspective, my inquiry of the alpha function is no more that that: playing with a conceptual object, to see how it functions and what meanings it generates, when placed and used in a particular context. This awaits for further inquiries in other relevant contexts. But this is the very stuff of interpretation, in a hermeneutical sense: to place a given text in various contexts and determine, from the meanings thus generated, which of these contexts seems to fit better with the fruitfulness of the text (Beuchot, 2005; Tubert-Oklander & Beuchot Puente, 2008)."
(pp. 240-241)

Juan Tubert-Oklander (2008). An Inquiry into the Alpha Function. Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 16, pp. 224-245

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Margaret Wilkinson - Transference, Neuroscience, and Integration

"Perhaps as yet speculative, nevertheless it may be inferred that the analytic process, and the evolving symbolizations associated with it, can develop new neural pathways in the brain, and in particular can develop the fibre tract known as the corpus callosum that is the major highway between the two hemispheres, shown to be reduced through the effects of trauma (Teicher 2000). Such integration is facilitated as, through the experience of the transference, past is linked with present and emotional experience revisited and reworked. Through the analytic process, new entities are added to pre-existing connections, in the transformative way that is the outcome of appropriate and well-timed interpretation. Schore comments that affectively focused treatment can ‘literally alter the orbito-frontal system of the brain’ and suggests that ‘non-verbal transference-countertransference interactions that take place at preconscious-unconscious levels represent right hemisphere to right hemisphere communications of … emotional states between patient and therapist’ (Schore 2001b, p. ).

At the beginning of therapy the greatest need may be for containment with the therapist as the container of uncontainable affect of unbearable experience, and also as the one who can process the rapidly changing dynamics of the transference and countertransference in order that what feels like ‘now’ may settle into ‘then’. There will be a need for meaning making, for naming that which was previously known only in the body, unavailable to the mind. Early relational trauma may give rise to vertical splits within the personality, experienced as alternating subjectivities, at the very least there will be the frightened, angry child whose development was stopped by the experience of overwhelming trauma and whose emergence in the consulting room will mark the first tentative steps towards trust. One might say that part of successful therapy will be the recognition of the threesome in the consulting room, that is the analyst, the patient who manages the day to day more or less successfully whether adult or child, and the inner hurt part of the patient that is often characterized as the traumatized child within The skill of the analyst is to relate to both without favouring one or the other so that the two may become more able to interact in a caring way one with the other, eventually becoming more wholly integrated into one, allowing a new experience of the self.

The questions surrounding the recall of memory and accuracy of memories that surface in the consulting-room have been widely discussed; however we should also be aware of the way in which the changing of emotional memory may actually be a benign aspect of analytic work, in that the re-telling (from explicit) or re-experiencing (from implicit) of memories in the presence of the therapist may lead to a modulation in the quality of the affect associated with the memory, thus modifying the memory. Siegel notes that recent studies of flashback conditions suggest an intense activation of the right-hemisphere visual cortex and an inhibition of left hemisphere speech areas’ (2003, p 15) At such moments much will depend on the calm that the therapist is able to sustain within in the face of much that urges consciously and unconsciously towards just the opposite. A lowering of tone and slowing of speech, speaking in what Williams (2004) has termed ‘pastel rather than primary colours’ may help to counteract the responses triggered in the patient. It may be possible to help the patient to modify their experience by use of a simple phrase such as ‘it was then, not now’. Cozolino (2002) suggests that this is effective because it stimulates Broca's area and encourages the functioning of right and left hemispheres in a more integrated way.

This process of cure is not only that of making unconscious conscious, with interpretation, but also the interactive experiencing within the therapeutic dyad. It is the combination of the two that enables change. The development of regulated of affect within the patient brings with it the capacity to reflect, that then makes more possible the interpretative moment, in turn bringing with it the possibility of more integrated hemispheric functioning and the development of coherent narrative. Fonagy argues that ‘the ability to represent the idea of an affect is crucial in the achievement of control over overwhelming affect’ (Fonagy 1991, p. 641). For this to occur successfully interpretation; must be grounded in the emotional experiencing that occurs within the therapeutic dyad rather than being merely cognitive engaging primarily the left hemisphere alone. Beebe and Lachmann describe the analytic process as ‘a co-constructed interactive process’ in which ‘the narrative dynamic issues and the moment by moment negotiation of relatedness fluctuate between foreground and background’ (Beebe & Lachmann 2002, p. 17).

The work in the consulting room, with its focus on the transference, calls forth emotional responses that come from implicit, emotional, amygdaloidal memory traces that affect profoundly the individual's way of experiencing and relating to others. The more traumatic the early experience of the patient, the more necessary it is for the analyst to keep this firmly in mind. The therapist's way of working, of containing and moderating the affect evoked, will determine whether an experience ‘kindles’, that is, activates an emergency response where no emergency is, releasing a toxic soup of chemicals in the brain and retraumatizing the patient, or whether it facilitates the ‘quenching’ process which then permits analysis of the transference. Such work enables the later left brain analytic processing, that ‘allows for the structural expansion of the patient's orbito-frontal system and its cortical and subcortical connections’ (Schore 2001a, p. 72) and strengthens cortical control over the amygdala (LeDoux 2002)."
(pp. 490-492)

Margaret Wilkinson (2005). Undoing dissociation. Affective neuroscience. Journal of Analytical Psychology, Vol. 50, pp. 483-501

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Joseph Sandler - The Distance Between Theory and Practice

"To round this paper out I want to point to three of the many areas in psychoanalysis where the distance between theory on the one hand and clinical practice and experience on the other is particularly wide, and to take the liberty of suggesting possible directions of theoretical clarification or modification.

1. Drives and Motives

However important the instinctual drives may be in our psychoanalytic thinking—and they will certainly always occupy a central position—the need for psychoanalysts to defend the significance of sexual and aggressive wishes has led to the building of theories in which everything tends to be brought back to the drives. I am convinced that for most psychoanalysts such reductionism plays a less significant part in their analytic work than in their theory. What they are often much more concerned with are the variety of motives for the use of defences, for the construction and development of fantasies and transference, and for many other phenomena with which we concern ourselves as clinical psychoanalysts. Certainly sexual and aggressive drives provide highly important motives, but so do threats to our feelings of safety (to the 'integrity of the ego'), injuries to our self-esteem, feelings of guilt and shame, and threats from the real ('external') world. Above all, anxieties of all sorts provide motives which are of central clinical significance. I believe that we need to accept into our theory, for example, the proposition that the latent content of a dream or of a piece of transference behaviour can be an unconscious wish or fantasy created to deal with anxiety, pain, or any other unpleasant affect from any source, and not necessarily to 'discharge' libidinal or aggressive drive energies. Not all unconscious wishes derive from the instinctual drives. Even if they may have done so in the past, such wishes need not be impelled by drives in the present. They may have other causes and other motivating forces.

2. Conflict

For how long will psychoanalysts continue to speak of conflict between id and the ego, between id and superego, between ego and superego, when clinically we address ourselves to the person who is in conflict? Certainly he may experience conflict between a sexual wish and his conscience, but what this means is that he is in conflict about his wish to gratify a sexual urge and his wish to avoid feelings of having done wrong (see Sandler, 1974). Moreover, from the point of view of the sorts of conflict which are clinically significant, what we usually see (and, I hope, interpret) is conflict over derivatives of wishes or wishful fantasies that have been, at some time, acceptable to the person—we might say consciousness-syntonic—but have become, in the course of development, unacceptable, i.e. consciousness-dystonic. The best examples of such conflictual wishes in ordinary everyday analytic experience are transference wishes. These often represent (often quite complicated) ways of interrelating with objects that were once acceptable but had later to be defended against, as a result appearing again in the transference in disguised form. Thus a patient who, as a child, developed a strong clinging tendency, might have turned against this later on. The transference might show a heightened wish to reject or move away from the analyst, for purposes of defence, and the conflict behind this might be over the wish to cling. The impulse to cling, in its turn, might have been a way of dealing with anxieties about losing the mother, and it would be a great error, both clinically and theoretically, to equate it automatically with an oral instinctual wish. If we take such a view of conflict, then we should have no problem over analysing conflict in our patients with so-called narcissistic character disorders. Whether or not an early defect in object relationships exists, whether or not the pathology is rooted in the pre-oedipal years, childhood wishes (and solutions to the problems caused by these) bring about future conflicts during development, which are then adapted to in turn, and show themselves in the narcissistic adult.

In this connexion I should like to suggest that every solution (defensive or otherwise) to a conflict, because it solves a problem during development, acquires a peremptory and urgent quality, and the urge to impose it in the face of renewed or revived conflict becomes the content of unconscious wishes driven towards actualization. Such wishes may then cause further conflict that might well be reflected in the here-and-now of the analytic situation. As solutions to conflict, both early and late, for the most part involve relationships to real or fantasied objects, conflict over such solutions will tend to reflect itself in the transference, even in the most narcissistic of our patients.

3. Object relationships and transference

Classical theory holds that object relationships reflect the cathexis of the object with instinctual energies, or with aim-inhibited drive energies. The inadequacy of such a view must be self-evident, and although there may still be some who pay lip-service to formulations like the one just given, most analysts conceive of object relationships in some very different way. My own preference is to regard the object relationship, inasmuch as it involves some external person, as a valued type of interaction with that specific person, in which the object plays as big a part as the subject. Such an interaction may satisfy instinctual needs, but (at least equally) satisfies needs for security and familiarity, for reassurance and affirmation of one's own value and identity. Needs of this sort develop from what Mahler (Mahler et al., 1975) has called processes of separation-individuation, and the satisfaction of these needs through an interchange of signals with the object, a dialogue with the object, is a vital part of our existence. As development proceeds, the external objects (together with their distortions by wishful fantasies and defences) are internalized, and the resulting introjected objects form the basis for dialogues with the objects in unconscious fantasy life.

It may be relevant to our understanding of transference if we consider that introjects are constantly being externalized, in a sense being actualized, so that they can be related to as external objects rather than as internal ones. Such a tendency to externalize one's introjects is probably a fairly general one, and deserves closer investigation. It is a tendency which can be observed particularly well in the psychoanalytic situation and we regularly see attempts to force, manipulate or seduce the analyst into taking over the role of one or other introject so that an internal fantasy scenario involving a dialogue between self and introject can be enacted. This externalization is as much what we mean by transference as anything else, and the analyst's experience of, and reaction to, this externalization of the introject (extrojection?) is part of his countertransference. I believe that this is implicitly if not explicitly understood by many analysts, who take such processes into account in their work. From the point of view of our theory, however, we should recognize that it is a gross mistake to regard the externalization of inner object relationships, the unpacking of mental furniture as the patient settles into the analysis, as simply the direct or indirect fulfilment of unconscious instinctual wishes, once directed to a figure of the past, and now transferred to the analyst in the present." (pp. 41-43)


Joseph Sandler (1983). Reflections on Some Relations Between Psychoanalytic Concepts and Psychoanalytic Practice. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. 64, pp. 35-45.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Jeffrey Santinover - Jungian View of Masculine Psychology


"The Jungian view of masculine psychology reflects several fundamental divergences from the conceptions of classical psychoanalysis. Roughly, Jung's theories promise fulfillment, in psychological terms but in a religious spirit, of wishes that psychoanalysis deliberately refrains from attempting to fulfill. A follower of psychoanalytic method is offered and hopes for understanding; a follower of Jung's "analytic psychology" is offered and seeks salvation. Traditionally, the area of greatest interest for psychoanalysis has been the neuroses, characterized by repression and defense within an already essentially unified self. Of greatest interest to Jungian psychology has been the more severe psychotic, borderline, and narcissistic pathologies—as well as issues of religious experience—where the central problem concerns the achievement of a stable, unified self (Satinover, 1980, 1984, 1985a, 1985b).

Although most Freudians, and many Jungians as well, consider these differences so fundamental as to preclude any attempt at cross-fertilization, there has been some convergence recently in areas of interest and in approach. As psychoanalysis has expanded into those areas of interest to Jung—into earlier, more primitive, and more severely disturbed states of the psyche, as well as into religion and creative processes—its conceptions have begun to resemble those of analytic psychology. Indeed, where they are familiar with his work, psychoanalytic writers on narcissism and psychosis are often sympathetic to Jung. And, Jung's salvational tone is echoed in, for example, the late works of Kohut (1977, 1984). In Britain, Jung was well regarded by the object relations theorists (Fordham, 1984), and currently the Kleinians and Jungians in London are quite congenial. As I have argued elsewhere (Satinover, 1985), when Jung's ideas are rephrased in less mystical terms, and their homiletic intent set aside, what emerges is a striking anticipation of many current psychoanalytic ideas concerning narcissism, psychic splitting, and fragmentation of the self. Although he presented it as a general psychology, Jung's theory is in fact a highly intuitive description of the primitive ego coupled with a mode of cure in a religious spirit.

The Transformation of the Masculine

Like Freud before him, Jung presumed innate masculine and feminine components to exist in the personality. He saw masculine development as needing to progress from an exclusive identification with these masculine elements toward an integration of the feminine. In his view, the achievement of this wholeness would also consist symbolically in a death of the "hero," the archetype upon which he considered conventional masculine identity to rest.

Jung believed that ancient mystery cults into which a man might once have been initiated, as for example the ancient Egyptian mysteries of Isis and Osiris, furthered development of the personality in a way analogous to modern psychotherapy. Thus, in a culture such as ours where, he believed, masculinity characterizes the "ego" or "consciousness" (in the sense of a dominant set of attitudes, values, goals, and presuppositions), the unconscious is feminine. This ego, or ego state, can be dissolved by controlled immersion in the unconscious. The ego is subsequently transformed through the integration of previously unconscious, and to a large extent "feminine," impulses. In earlier ages, this process was an essential component of the esoteric aspect of religion, especially in the mid-life initiation rituals. It was symbolized in myth by the death of a hero-god within or at the hands of the mother goddess, commonly involving his dismemberment and/or castration, and his subsequent resurrection, glorification, and immortalization.

Jung thus presents his ideas about masculine development as pertinent to adult maturation during normal development, an instance of the "psychology of the second half of life." But from the psychoanalytic point of view the great myths of the phallic, castrating mother-goddess and her dying and reborn son bear a striking resemblance to issues of preoedipal development and psychopathology. Although Jung came to present his ideas as an adult-developmental psychology, they also reflect preoedipal psychology in regression—especially regression in the service of the ego. As psychotherapy has widened its scope, it increasingly has had to recognize the ubiquity of these preoedipal problems which are, indeed, widespread enough to be considered the norm.1

There is good reason why the problems of selfhood first constellated in early childhood should reappear at a mid-life transition. Individuation, as Mahler, Pine, and Bergman (1975) describe it, is the process by which the individual, "unit" self is established. Individuation as Jung means it is the process by which, under the aegis of a growing sense of its mortality, the self is relinquished. A powerfully defended phallic sense of omnipotence, reinforced by a reaction formation against castration anxiety, is perhaps particularly characteristic of the "normally" heroic male identity (more so than is a true "shattering" of the Oedipus complex). Coming to terms with a mortality to which he must passively accede, and the consequent regressive reemergence of both his preoedipal struggles with omnipotence and his oedipal fears of castration, can be, for a man, a poignant impetus toward a deeper acceptance of his femininity." (pp. 149-150)


Jeffrey Satinover (1986). The Myth of the Death of the Hero: A Jungian View of Masculine Psychology. Psychoanalytic Review, Vol. 73D, pp. 149-161

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Michael Miller - The Emotionally Engaged Analyst

"The analysis of the meaning of a patient's symptoms, conflicts, transferences, and resistances has been at the heart of psychoanalytic treatment since its inception. In recent decades psychoanalytic theorists have added to the ways in which we appreciate a patient's conflicts and transferences the narrative meaning that patients consciously and unconsciously construct to understand and to contextualize their subjective experience and their relationships to others (Schafer, 1976, 1992; Spence, 1982). Modern psychoanalytic thinkers advanced the analysis of meaning still further by contributing the idea that the analyst participates in the construction of the patient's narrative (Gill, 1982; Loewald, 1960; Mitchell, 1988). Indeed, the ways in which the analyst contributes to the analytic interaction have occupied center stage in the literature for many years.

One aspect of the analyst's contribution to the analytic matrix that has resisted clear elaboration has been the analyst's emotional reactivity. Nearly every school of psychoanalysis today recognizes that the analyst's emotions play a role in the analytic interaction and contribute to the meanings derived from the patient-analyst dialogue. Nevertheless, controversy exists as to the nature and extent of that role. Although most psychoanalysts will acknowledge that the analyst's emotional reactions contribute to his or her empathy with the patient, providing the analyst with a window into the patient's subjective experience, some practitioners, such as Gray (1993), believe that the analyst's empathy should be restricted to informing the analyst about the patient's state of being, the patient's readiness for an interpretation, or the most affectively meaningful point of intervention. Schwaber (1981, 1996), reinforcing Gray's perspective, conceives of the analyst's empathy as a tool with which to identify a patient's subjective experience within the coconstructed matrix of the analytic interaction. Schwaber (1981) emphasizes that the analyst's empathy is a "mode of attunement which attempts to maximize a singular focus on the patient's subjective reality, seeking all possible cues to ascertain it" (p. ). She cautions the analyst to vigilantly guard against the imposition of his or her point of view.

Other psychoanalysts opine that the analyst's empathic resonance with a patient's subjective experience is a crucial transformative element in psychoanalytic treatment (Aron, 1996; Kohut, 1959, 1971; Lichtenberg, 1981; Schore, 1994, 2003b). These theorists believe that the analyst's emotional responsiveness goes beyond simple empathy with the emotional states of the patient. They argue that the analyst's expression of his or her emotional reactions provides a context of understanding within which patients feel safe and open to the analyst's interventions (Gedo, 1979; Kohut, 1977; Sandler & Sandler, 1978; Stolorow, Brandchaft, & Atwood, 1987). Indeed, Gill (1982) sees the analyst's emotional participation as an essential component in the patient's formation of the transference.

Some contemporary psychoanalytic theorists, however, counter that an analyst's emotional engagement of a patient is an expression of the analyst's unconscious emotional conflicts (e.g., Chused, 2003), or that the analyst's emotional reactivity leads to a traumatic reification of the patient's unconscious fantasies and fears (e.g., Schafer, 1999). Relational analysts, on the other hand, strongly advise that the analyst's emotional engagement of the patient is an essential element of analytic treatment. Aron (1996), Davies (1998), Jacobs (1986), Levenson (1983), Mitchell (1988, 1993), Ogden (1995, 1997), and Renik (1996) posit that unless the patient and the analyst enter one another's emotional world, as active participants in creating and interpreting one another's lived experience, the relational matrix that constitutes the curative element in psychoanalytic treatment fails to emerge. Without an emotionally engaged analyst, treatment is never fully realized.

This essay aims to clarify the nature of the contribution that the patient's and the analyst's emotional reactivity makes to the psychoanalytic enterprise. The theory of emotion to which we as analysts implicitly or explicitly subscribe is a key factor influencing the way we understand what the role of our affective experience in psychoanalytic treatment is. The way we conceptualize emotion determines in great measure what we can conceive of doing with a patient's emotional experience as well as our own. I will show that with each successive advance in our theoretical understanding of emotion the analyst's emotional participation becomes more central to the analytic process, opening new avenues of therapeutic relatedness and intervention. I will explain how the meanings that the patient and the analyst employ to interpret their subjective experience and their interaction are determined in significant ways by the exchange of emotions between them. To this end, I will review two major contemporary theories of emotion (the cognitive appraisal approach and the functional/discrete analysis) and describe their influence on modern psychoanalytic theory and practice. I will then introduce a new approach to emotion based on dynamic systems theory
." (pp. 3-4)

"With each advance in our knowledge about the nature of emotion, psychoanalysts' understanding of the role of emotion in the psychoanalytic practice has progressed. As analysts came to understand the relationship between the schemas of emotion and the schemas of declarative knowledge, practitioners began to use their emotional reactivity and their empathic resonance with the patient in new ways. They saw their own feelings and reactions to the patient's emotional states as windows into the patient's subjective, emotional experience, much of which was developmentally unformulated, defensively sequestered, or not well articulated. In symbolically representing in images and words the analyst's empathic resonance and emotional reactivity, the analyst transforms the patient's emotions into meaningful feelings. These feelings in turn not only inform the patient about the meaning of his or her emotional experience but also about the nature of his transferential connection to the analyst.

As the adaptive function of emotional behavior became more clearly articulated, psychoanalysts became aware of the way their own emotional behavior affected the emotional states of the patient. Analysts began to regulate, contain, and metabolize the patient's emotional experience through the way they themselves emotionally processed and expressed their experience of their own and the patient's emotional behaviors. The exchange of emotional behaviors between the patient and the analyst was now recognized as the context within which the meanings that characterize the nature of the therapeutic interaction emerged.

Dynamic systems theory casts emotion in a truly interactive context, enabling analysts to appreciate the coconstructed nature not only of the meanings attributed to the analytic interaction but also of their own and the patient's emotional states as well. Psychoanalysts can now trace the emergence of their own and the patient's emotions from the exchange of emotional behaviors between them. As the emotions of the patient and the analyst self-organize in reference to the emotional behaviors of the other, the ways the patient and analyst constitute, regulate, and interpret their emotions directly impact the construction of emotion in both persons. As the patient and the analyst work to optimally adapt to the nature of their relationship, the emotional states and behaviors of each of them are simultaneously impacted and changed. Concurrently, their emotional exchange gives their relationship an emotional tone that in turn constrains the emotional states and behaviors accessible to them, the meanings available to interpret their emotional relationship, and the types of therapeutic interventions and transformations open to the analyst. The analyst can now formulate his or her interventions and interpretations to take advantage of the ways in which emotion, meaning, relationship, and context interact in the formation of subjective experience. Mutative change is always systemic, effecting changes in all components that constitute the emotional relationship between the patient and the analyst. The emotional engagement of the patient and the analyst thus constitutes the essence of the therapeutic action in psychoanalysis.

The context within which the analyst works, from this dynamic systems perspective, is a complex emotional system that is both stable and constantly in flux. As the analyst manages the multiple interacting influences on the analytic process and on the emotional states and interpretations that carry the analytic dialogue while simultaneously experiencing the effects of his or her own adaptations to the patient's emotional behavior, new ways of monitoring, influencing, and interpreting the patient-analyst interaction are required. These therapeutic processes, configured in a dynamic, interactive, and continuous manner, form the analytic context to be illuminated with clinical material in the companion paper to this essay (Miller, in press)
." (pp. 19-20)

Michael L. Miller (2008). The Emotionally Engaged Analyst I. Psychoanalytic Psychology, Vol. 25, pp. 3-25