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Arundale, J. (1995). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 12(2):145-146.

(1995). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 12(2):145-146

Editorial

Jean Arundale

Bion once said that feelings are one of the few things which analysts have the luxury of being able to regard as facts. Yet in this important area there is a theoretical gap. Psychoanalysis has often been criticized for not having worked out a theory of affect and it is true that there is no systematic examination of emotional states in the literature, nor a useful description of the psychology of emotional arousal. As we know, Freud approached the question of affect by beginning with the notion of pleasure and unpleasure. Freud described emotions as derivatives of instincts, as quantities of energy that disturb homeostatic equilibrium and which, unless they are discharged, are transformed into anxiety. Now, in modern British psychoanalysis and object relations theory, we no longer tend to take the view that emotions are tensions that need to be discharged, but more that they are states of mind that wax and wane within relationships and that emotions must be accepted and lived with. Far from getting in the way, as Freud thought, feeling states constantly accompany us, intrinsically interesting and enriching in themselves, a guide to our actions and something we like to share with others. In fact, we believe that the trouble really begins when we try to get rid of feelings. What moves us, touches us or gives us anxiety or pain is what we need to think about and try to understand. This activity constitutes symbol formation, assigns structure in the unconscious and orientates us within a stable and reliable psychic world.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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