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Hildebrand, P. (2001). Prospero's Paper. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 82(6):1235-1246.

(2001). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 82(6):1235-1246

Prospero's Paper

Peter Hildebrand

The writer proposes that the interplay between the hermeneutics of psychoanalysis and literature can illuminate understanding of the transference and countertransference at large in an analytic treatment. Writing about the work with a young woman who had been persistently sexually abused as a child and who developed anorexia in her adolescence so severe that her life was endangered both by the illness and by attempts at suicide, the author finds his reading of Shakespeare's The Tempest a powerful informant to the work. Interpreting the object relations represented by Prospero and Miranda and the process of their integration into new mental structures lends the analytic work an additional level of understanding, in particular in relation to the oedipal bond between patient and analyst. When the analyst is confronted by the imminence of his own death towards the end of the analysis, his reading of Prospero's relinquishment of his magical powers and his release of his daughter into sexual maturity and independence helps the patient to replace her destructive inner objects with more reparative and benign ones as she develops a capacity for concern and mourning.

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