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Witenberg, E.G. (1976). Problems in Terminating Psychoanalysis (A Symposium)—Termination is no End. Contemp. Psychoanal., 12:335-337.

(1976). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 12:335-337

Problems in Terminating Psychoanalysis (A Symposium)—Termination is no End

Earl G. Witenberg, M.D.

SEVERAL QUESTIONS MAY BE ASKED about the termination of psychoanalysis. Do we follow a prescribed course over a charted sea in any given analysis? Is the ending always the same for everyone, with stereotyped landmarks and buoys requiring special skills to navigate much as the specially qualified pilot is necessary for the tieing up of an ocean liner? Is the termination of analysis a well-defined phase with the terminal point marked by the same process as the one undergone at the death-bed of a loved one? When the analysis is over, is the work over for the patient as well as for the analyst?

These questions have been dealt with in the literature by people with diverse backgrounds. My observation is that the literature is replete with excellent clinical examples and poor theoretical formulations—a statement of our predicament in this field. The termination of psychoanalysis is a phrase that has meaning only in context—it depends on how one defines psychoanalysis. If one defines psychoanalysis as the creation of a transference neurosis by professional means, then termination is the resolution of this iatrogenic neurosis by professional means. If one defines psychoanalysis as the unblocking of infantile amnesia (e.g.

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