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Perelberg, R.J. (1995). Report on the Colloquium. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 18(2):165-167.

(1995). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 18(2):165-167

Report on the Colloquium

Rosine J Perelberg

The participants were divided into six workshop groups who were invited to bring points for discussion to the final plenary session, chaired by Dr Anton Kris. He classified them into three main areas: descriptive factors, developmental topics and issues of technique.

Group One, chaired by Rose Edgcumbe and Samuel Ritvo, raised the following question: in order to gain access to the psychological context from which violent actions develop, must the analyst inevitably use modifications of classical technique?

Group Two, chaired by Joseph Sandler and Bertram Cohler, suggested the following definition, proposed by Mark Solms, which discriminates between the perspectives of the perpetrator and the victim: from the perpetrator's perspective, violence represents an attempt to remove an intolerable state by means of a forceful and urgent breach of bodily boundaries of a psychological object. From the victim's perspective, violence represents the experience of a forceful and urgent breach of the boundaries of bodily or psychological objects.

Group Three, chaired by Debbie Bellman and Aaron Esman, posed questions that referred to developmental pathways and gender differences in relation to violence. They also raised the issue of the analyst's responsibility towards understanding and preventing violent behaviour.

Group Four, chaired by Veronica Mächtlinger and Marion Burgner, put forward the following questions:

1.   Could one conceptualize the descriptively violent individual in terms of a continuum to take in the following elements:

(a)  the representational, internal world which encompasses self/object representations;

(b)  lack of affective discrimination;

(c)  inability to symbolize - only to act;

(d)  impairment of thinking: presence of a parent who is unable to think about infant or child in a consistent way;

(e)  inability to feel human about the other and the self.

2.   Do we take enough cognizance of countertransference? How can we accept, emotionally, violent or destructive characteristics in patients and also acknowledge such characteristics in ourselves with the patient?

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