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Nacht, S. (1965). Criteria and Technique for the Termination of Analysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 46:107-116.

(1965). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 46:107-116

Criteria and Technique for the Termination of Analysis

S. Nacht

When may we consider that an analysis is terminated? It might seem that natural good sense would provide the answer: the analysis is terminated when the patient is cured. But what constitutes a cure? It can be the disappearance of symptoms; but psycho-analytic experience has taught us that the disappearance of symptoms does not necessarily constitute a cure.

Since it is not possible to consider the disappearance of symptoms as being in itself a reliable indication of cure, we must define what we consider to be a state of health, in order to establish the criteria of psycho-analytic cure. This would suggest that we need to describe something in the nature of an 'ideal image' towards which we endeavour, more or less successfully, to guide our patients. The ideal state of perfect mental health presupposes so many diverse conditions that we may reasonably doubt if anyone ever achieves it. One can, at best, attempt some approximation to it. We should therefore be aware of the relativity of our judgement when dealing with patients who seem to us cured: they are, in fact, cured if certain conditions are secured and blended into a harmonious whole. The simplest of these necessary conditions is the absence of suffering.

This leads us to consider, first of all, the role of symptoms, their value, and the reasons why their persistence or disappearance are not absolute criteria. Generally speaking, in so far as they are compromises between opposing and inhibited tendencies, they achieve cathexes of libido or aggression, whose objects are displaced.

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