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Israël, P. (1994). On Formulations to Patients. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:1051-1067.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:1051-1067

On Formulations to Patients

Paul Israël


For the author, the psychoanalytic clinical fact can only be an arbitrary fragment detached from the totality of the situation, which alone specifies it and which comprises the different forms of formulations that are proposed to patients. Using the difference established by Freud between what is and what is not analysable as a starting point, he distinguishes between two radically different analytic situations. To illustrate, he extracts, from the same cure, a 'fact' constituted of two moments; one 'this side of analysability, the other at its limits. He calls 'homogeneous' the neurotic moment in which transference and countertransference are similar in nature, and he calls 'heterogeneous' the 'limit' situation in which predictabüity is absent, and in which change, when it occurs, is one of divine surprise. The author advances an hypothesis on the factors at work in the changes that subsequently occurred, particularly in the case of the 'limit' situation, drawing from the therapeutic experience of the 'psychoanalytic psychodrama' and from the work of Jean Laplanche. A single generating principle would thus be involved, based on the action of the unconscious seduction contained in the unknowable, 'enigmatic', part of verbal and nonverbal messages, it grounds its transforming action in the following sequence: unconscious seduction, limited traumatic penetration, symbolisation, i.e. the emergence of meaning in the aftermath.

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