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Hart, A. (1999). Reclaiming The Analyst's Disruptive Role. Contemp. Psychoanal., 35:185-211.

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(1999). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 35(2):185-211

Reclaiming The Analyst's Disruptive Role

Anton Hart, Ph.D.

A THIRTY-YEAR-OLD MAN in his sixth year of thrice-weekly analysis was undergoing a period of acute emotional distress. This was due partly to life-situational factors and partly to the fact that his ability to avoid the unsettling impact of being in analysis was waning. He lamented his predicament:

I'm not any better at facing things now, and also I am more miserable than ever. You have taken away my ability to calm myself down, anesthetize myself, to simplify things, keep my life more simple, more manageable…. I'm tired, I want to just sleep. I'd like to watch a relaxing evening of TV. But you have ruined all that for me. And left me with nothing to replace it.

A thirty-nine-year-old woman had a long history of using drugs to obliterate her desire and a tendency toward debilitating, agitated depression. She regularly referred to her four sessions per week in the opening months as “this exercise.” She told me that with this phrase she meant to convey the fact that she experienced the situation of analysis as artificial, impersonal, and likely to have no impact on her whatsoever. In an early session she spoke angrily about not receiving enough “feedback” from me.

I can't get a straight answer from you. I've given up asking. When I do ask you something, you seem to have a way of responding which leaves me feeling confused about what I'm asking and temporarily unaware that you haven't answered it. If I try to speak to you as a normal person you direct me back to myself. So, I'm not getting any answers from you, any words of wisdom. I just keep getting put back face-to-face with my pathetic, disgusting,


I would like to express gratitude to the following people, each of whom made significant editorial and conceptual contributions to this paper: Drs. Irma Brownfield, Lawrence Jacobson, Jay Kwawer, Donnel Stern, and the late Dr. Benjamin Wolstein. And thanks to my analysands, who have informed this work.

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