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Seganti, A. (1995). Prototypical Expectations Of Safety: A Developmental Approach To The Assessment Of The Psychoanalytic Process. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:1245-1255.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:1245-1255

Prototypical Expectations Of Safety: A Developmental Approach To The Assessment Of The Psychoanalytic Process

Andrea Seganti

The author proposes that developmental research into the main experiential components of internal working models and process research into central patterns of interaction between analyst and patient may share similar theoretical assumptions. A developmental hypothesis bridging these two areas of research is proposed, in which repeated success or difficulty in mutual regulation during infancy result in an emotionally charged set of ‘prototypical expectations’ that continually influence the sense of personal safety. The author argues that prototypical expectations interfere in the psychoanalytic process because they allow the defensive warding off of negative expectations and so parallel explorations of new relational solutions. An analysand’s narratives can be considered to express the conflict between negative transference (generally expressed in relation to extra-transference interactions) and defensive positive transference (more likely to be explicitly connected with the therapeutic situation). During the analytic process, ambivalent transference should appear in both ‘worst’ and ‘best’ types of narrative as an indication of warded-off negative transference working through. In this paper an application of the negative prototypical expectations processing hypothesis is presented through a formal discussion of the relational structure of the narratives of a 17-year-old boy’s first four analytic sessions. The author demonstrates that this hypothesis makes it possible to predict the transference and the countertransference topics with which the patient and the analyst will have to cope during the treatment.

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