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Blatt, S.J. Behrends, R.S. (1987). Internalization, Separation-Individuation, and the Nature of Therapeutic Action. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 68:279-297.

(1987). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 68:279-297

Internalization, Separation-Individuation, and the Nature of Therapeutic Action

Sidney J. Blatt and Rebecca Smith Behrends


Based on the assumption that the mutative factors that facilitate growth in psychoanalysis involve the same fundamental mechanisms that lead to psychological growth in normal development, this paper considers the constant oscillation between gratification and deprivation leading to internalization as the central therapeutic mechanism of the psychoanalytic process. Patients experience the analytic process as a series of gratifying involvements and experienced incompatibilities that facilitate internalization, whereby the patient recovers lost or disrupted regulatory, gratifying interactions with the analyst, which are real or fantasied, by appropriating these interactions, transforming them into their own, enduring, self-generated functions and characteristics. Patients internalize not only the analyst's interpretive activity, but also the analyst's sensitivity, compassion and acceptance, and, in addition, their own activity in relation to the analyst such as free association. Both interpretation and the therapeutic relationship can contain elements of gratifying

involvement and experienced incompatibility that lead to internalization and therefore both can be mutative factors in the therapeutic process.

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