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Arundale, J. (1999). Editorial. Brit. J. Psychother., 16(1):1-2.

(1999). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 16(1):1-2


Jean Arundale

A question of perennial concern to philosophy is also one that has been an ongoing preoccupation of psychoanalysis and central to the therapies derived from it. This is the epistemological problem of how to emerge from the maze of the individual mind to engage with reality in such a way that new ideas are formed and learning takes place. Overcoming resistance to a new awareness of both internal and external reality is central to the therapeutic task, and is hindered by an incapacity to tolerate not knowing and by a rejection of otherness and difference. Further to the question and unique to the Freudian contribution to epistemology is the view that mental and emotional development requires that the individual be able to mourn and to truly give up what is irretrievably lost, unavailable or no longer of use, making space for the new.

Intimately connected with mourning is the establishment of a separate self in relation to separate others (or otherness), a necessary capacity in order to develop and to think. There are a multitude of ways to blur, deny or avoid separateness and loss, among them such phenomena as repeating past patterns and fixations in the transference, dependence on the therapist's authority, insisting that the world revolve around the self, or the various states of fusion or union with the other. Further psychoanalytic investigations into mental processes have found splitting and divisions within the self to be more common than Freud had thought. These splits are used to create defences against separateness by projection of parts of the self into others, attempts to control and possess the object through projective identification, or phantasies of living inside the object or the object living inside the self.

[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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