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Moser-Ha, H. (2001). Working Through Envy: Some Technical Issues. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(4):713-725.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(4):713-725

Working Through Envy: Some Technical Issues

Heikyöng Moser-Ha

The author argues that envy appears in an analysis as a hostile, life-destroying force and is directed at the good qualities of the object, often manifesting in the patient's need to devalue analytic work that has been helpful. An intractable negative therapeutic reaction can thus become a persistent feature of an analysis. Sometimes powerful envy is silently operating beneath the surface, with the patient feeling continually wronged and mistreated by the object. The author argues that bringing the projected envy into the patient's personality structure is an important aspect of successful analysis, but that various technical problems have to be considered before painful insight can be achieved into the division in the patient's self. Presenting material from a relatively long analysis, she discusses some technical issues in dealing with these processes. Interpretation of envy can be a delicate matter, requiring consideration not only of how to interpret, but also of the nature of the countertransference and the form of the interpretation. A transference interpretation directed solely at the patient's self-destructive behaviour and destructiveness towards the object carries the risk of further stimulating the destructiveness, even if it is correct; it is also important to bring the patient's libidinal aspect into the interpretation.

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