Surviving Deadness in the Analytic Experience 

The transference/countertransference (third space) analysis is considered to be central in the therapeutic effectiveness of the analytic process. Less emphasis has been placed on the actual experiences of analyst and analys and in the conflictual reenactment of third space experience and its resolution. This paper recounts the shared experience of a patient who was silent throughout most of the analysis, and my reaction, in fantasy and enactment, to this disturbing experience—both for him and for myself. I argue that it is the affective re-experiencing of past repressed trauma in the analytic space that has a therapeutic impact, leading to growth in the patient and also the therapist. I contrast Freud’s emphasis on insight, making the unconscious conscious, with Ferenczi’s suggestion that the therapeutic impact lies in the repetition of past traumatic experience in the analysis but with the possibility of a different outcome with a more benign object, leading to symbolic representation of repressed trauma. Re-experiencing and symbolization, in the third space, of past traumatic experience can be an exit point from the endless repetition of trauma in internal and external object relations, leading to a new beginning in the patient’s life. Immersed in the experience of deadness in the analysis, which had become a dead womb, the struggle to remain alive and thinking led to a rupture out of the dead womb, like the Caesura of birth, into aliveness and the ability to mentalize what had previously remained unmentalized.

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http://www.palgrave-journals.com/ajp/journal/v74/n4/full/ajp201432a.html

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The American Journal of Psychoanalysis

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