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Joseph, B. (2000). Agreeableness as Obstacle. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(4):641-649.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(4):641-649

Agreeableness as Obstacle

Betty Joseph

The author discusses excessive agreeableness as it appears in the analytic situation, the patient agreeing with all interpretations, accepting all the analyst suggests in such a way as to keep the treatment apparently ongoing and peaceful but actually semi-paralysed. This type of agreeableness is linked with what has been described in the literature under the rubric of compliance. The author aims to show the various ways in which this agreeableness is enacted in the relationship with the analyst, and then to explore further the kind of anxieties that this defensive structure tries to ward off. Material from an adolescent patient is used to describe the slow unravelling of very powerful anxieties about being invaded and taken over by her object, anxieties that lead to her having no life and no mind of her own. It is suggested that such deeply paranoid anxieties may unconsciously be present in other patients of this compliant, ‘agreeable’ type.

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