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Coen, S.J. (1997). How To Help Patients (And Analysts) Bear The Unbearable. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 45:1183-1207.

(1997). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 45:1183-1207

How To Help Patients (And Analysts) Bear The Unbearable

Stanley J. Coen

Psychoanalytic techniques are explored through which analysts can help patients tolerate, face, and attempt to resolve affects and conflicts that have seemed unbearable to the patient. The patient's feeling of “I can't” is differentiated from the feeling of “I won't.” Process material focuses on patients' shifts between seeming inability to function as analytic collaborators and more responsible ownership and exploration of conflict. Analysts' either/or attitudes toward analyzability tend to interfere with flexible shifting between times when they can interpret and prolonged periods when they cannot interpret and the patient cannot collaborate. During the latter, the analyst needs to provide some noninterpretive function, such as holding, containing, or affirming, both for the patient and for him/herself.

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