Interpersonal Strategies Used in Resolving Analytic Disjunctions
Steven A. Frankel, M.D.
MY ANALYSIS ENDED nearly fifteen years ago. One period especially stands out.
Throughout our work, my analyst remained conventionally mysterious. He said nothing about himself and showed almost no emotion. Close to the end of the analysis, when I received a call early one morning from his wife telling me that he'd had a heart attack, it was similar. “Dr. Mark will contact you when he can see you again.” That was all.
Six weeks later I saw him again. He motioned me to the couch. I stopped midway and hesitantly asked how he was. He looked sad. “Pretty well, I think.” His eyes were imploring. I took a risk. “Was this your first heart attack? Are you worried?” He paused long enough for his reassurance to seem hollow. In spite of myself, I looked directly at him. I said I was sorry and that I had been concerned about him. I then went straight to the couch.
I stayed there for months, dutifully pretending not to notice his distraction and that he even fell asleep twice. I became entirely occupied with the new risk to our analytic work. The analysis already had been interrupted for six weeks; my confidence in Dr. Mark's ability to continue was shaken.
My solution was to take on both our roles. I became analysand and analyst. It was I who produced much of the energy for the analysis during those months. I introduced and examined issues. I came up with the few significant insights. Previously, I had counted on Dr. Mark to help me tie things together; now I carried the analysis on my own, neither of us saying much about his detachment.
During this period there was a paradoxical harmony between us. I would enter the office and sense his absence. Immediately, I reached for all the analytic tools I had accumulated over the seven years of our work. Typically, I recounted an event or dream from the previous day and
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