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Jacobs, T.J. (1980). Secrets, Alliances, and Family Fictions: Some Psychoanalytic Observations. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 28:21-42.

(1980). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 28:21-42

Secrets, Alliances, and Family Fictions: Some Psychoanalytic Observations

Theodore J. Jacobs, M.D.


I have tried in this paper to show the role that personal secrets, family secrets, and secret alliances within a family can play in individual psychology. Analysis of them has shown that such conscious, often closely guarded secrets may conceal and resonate with other, more deeply repressed secrets and with central conflicts in the personality. Secretive phenomena within families may also have a significant impact on various ego functions, on intellectual growth and problems of learning, and on the development and consistency of the superego.

I have also attempted to show that secrets and unconscious collusions may develop, not only as an important aspect of the patient's relations to others, but in the analytic situation as well. Representing important dynamic forces that resonate between patient and analyst, such secrets can have a significant impact on the course and outcome of the analysis itself.

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