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Killingmo, B. (1995). Affirmation In Psychoanalysis. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:503-518.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:503-518

Affirmation In Psychoanalysis

Bjørn Killingmo

It is argued that recent developments in psychoanalytic theory have prepared the theoretical space for a concept of affirmation and rendered necessary a discussion of the justification of affirmative interventions in clinical practice. Exemplified by a scene from one of Ingmar Bergman's plays, an affirmative intervention is defined as a communication which removes doubt about the experience of reality and thereby re-establishes a feeling of identity. This definition is compared with Freud's explanation of affirmation. Clinically, affirmation may function both as a silent background and as a delimited intervention in the foreground. Affirmative interventions are illustrated by a clinical vignette. The intonation of the voice of the analyst seems to be especially potent in mediating affirmative messages. Affirmation and interpretation address different experiential modes. They are complementary kinds of interventions, and the analyst has to oscillate between the two. In conclusion, the question raised is whether affirmation can repair structural defects ensuing from early affect deficit.

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