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Monguzzi, F. (2012). Behind Closed Doors: Reports of Physical Abuse and How to Handle Them. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 2(1):96-98.

(2012). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 2(1):96-98

Behind Closed Doors: Reports of Physical Abuse and How to Handle Them Related Papers

Response from Fabio Monguzzi

The situation presented by Dr Meyers is a valuable opportunity for reflection on cases of couples in which aggressiveness and violence are rife.

I would like to thank our colleague for stimulating this discussion. The difficulties she describes are extremely comprehensible and frequent in such cases. The case of this couple appears to be very demanding and urgent, both as regards the clinical aspects and treatment accountability.

Certain elements allow us to interpret the episodes that take place between the partners as a reliving of traumatic experiences that took place in their relationships with their respective primary attachment figures. In all probability, the relationship between partners was founded, at the very beginning, on the basis of a mental complementarity that has allowed the formation of a joint mental structure and a form of emotive tuning that is more or less satisfactory.

In any case, this joint mental structure would appear to change over time, plunging the couple, in a dramatic and violent way, into a powerful emotional dysregulation: they are no longer able to guarantee one another that they cannot access or modify certain areas of their emotional lives and keep intact their damaged internal objects. This means that the individual mental balance cannot benefit in the same way from the shared defence mechanisms and the partners find themselves having to face the ghosts and anxieties that haunt them.

The couple involves the analyst in the transference, allowing him/her acutely to experience the unsustainable emotional situation they feel they are in.

If we consider the couple in its overall mental economy, we can postulate that it is dealing with transformations associated with the evolution of the relationship over time. It is possible that the couple is experiencing a conflictual dimension involving both emancipative thrusts, aimed at reducing the level of mental co-penetration between the partners, and the anxieties connected with moments of differentiation, moments that evoke experiences of deprivation, loss, neglect, and abandonment.


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