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Parsons, M. (1986). Suddenly Finding it Really Matters: The Paradox of the Analyst's Non-Attachment. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 67:475-488.

(1986). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 67:475-488

Suddenly Finding it Really Matters: The Paradox of the Analyst's Non-Attachment

Michael Parsons

He thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek.
He looked again and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
'The one thing I regret', he said,
'Is that it cannot speak'.
Lewis Carroll; Sylvie & Bruno, Chapter 6.

This paper is about the 'looking again' that patient and analyst are continually engaged in. It is this 'looking again' which, for each of them, can allow the other one to stop being a dangerous creature making demands in an unknown language and become, instead, the future; which they must then somehow try and help, after all, into speech.

A patient came back from a visit to a country in Eastern Europe. He told me about a woman he had met there and become fond of. She was warm and sensitive but she had learned to live under her country's regime by knowing her way around with a particular kind of lucid pragmatism. She knew what there was a way of doing and what there was not. If scarce lemons could be procured, or 'unavailable' seats for a concert made available she would know how. If there was no way she would know that too and then she refused to waste time trying. She said she could not stand people who could not distinguish fantasy from reality. When he floated the idea of coming to visit her again she was not interested in it as a fantasy to play with; she simply said 'When?' Her statement about reality and fantasy was not theoretical. Her life in her society throws it into relief that distinguishing fantasy from reality is not something you do for fun; it is how you survive.

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