Sunday, February 9, 2014

Judith L. Mitrani - 'Taking the Transference' vs. Desire to do Good

"In concluding, I wish to express my belief that many of us are drawn to the work of analysis, at least in part, by the desire to do some good. However, paradoxically, this may be the greatest obstacle to actually doing ‘good analytic work’ and therefore the greatest barrier to truly helping the patient. If unbridled, it may prove to be the most obstructive ‘desire'—in Bion's sense of the word—since our patients may actually need to transform us, in the safety of the transference relationship, into the ‘bad’ object that does harm. In terms of analytic technique, the analyst needs to be able to muster the wherewithal to see, hear, smell, feel and taste things from the vantage point of the patient. I have found it is of little use to give the patient the impression, in one way or another, that what he/she made of what I said or did was neither what I intended nor what I actually did or said. This tactic almost always misses the point and may even reinforce the patient's sense that his/her experiences are indeed unbearable.

Our analysands’ developmental need to house their ‘bad’ objects and unendurable experiences in us is primary. Within us, these objects and the experiences that have created them may find an opportunity for rehabilitation and transformation. For example, the experience of the ‘abandoning object’ that we become—during holidays, weekend breaks, silences and especially in the absence of our understanding in the analytic hour—may have the chance to become an experience of ‘an abandoning object who takes responsibility for having abandoned the patient’ and who, at the same time, is able to keep the patient in mind sufficiently to be able to think about how he/she might feel about having been abandoned. Most importantly, that same object may also be experienced by the patient as able to bear being ‘bad’, which in itself is ‘good'! Furthermore, when reintrojected by the patient in this modified form, the ‘bad’ object is not so ‘bad’ at all: it is human, ordinary with all the ordinary human frailties imaginable, but it is bearable. In this transformed stare, the ‘bad’ object (which is now the contained) is enhanced with a ‘container’ (the analytic object), and the patient will be well on his way towards ‘being’ a thinking and feeling individual." (p. 1102)

Judith L. Mitrani, (2001). ‘Taking the Transference’. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., Vol. 82, pp. 1085-1104

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