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Sandler, A. Godley, W. (2004). Institutional responses to boundary violations: The case of Masud Khan. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(1):27-42.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(1):27-42

Institutional responses to boundary violations: The case of Masud Khan Language Translation

Anne-Marie Sandler and Wynne Godley


In the last decade increasing attention has been given to boundary violations in psychoanalysis. This trend has been prompted by a climate of greater awareness of the prevalence and consequences of sexual abuse and violent behaviour, and an increase in complaints from analysands of sexual and non-sexual boundary violations in the course of their treatments. There have been a number of formal and informal studies of the problem, and the investigators have included that incidents of this nature are underreported. Particular difficulties are associated with reporting boundary violations by training analysts, largely because of the profound repercussions in the psychoanalytic institutes where they occur (Gabbard and Peltz, 2001). This communication considers the transgenerational transmission of boundary violations and the special problems they present to organised psychoanalysis at every level. It seeks to illustrate these problems by drawing upon the published accounts of analyses by Masud Khan (Godley, 2001) and by Winnicott (Little, 1990; Cooper, 1993; Hopkins, 1998) and an essay by Boynton (2002) in the Boston Review. In my role as Chair of the Ethics Committee of the British Society from 1998 to 2003, I had access to the records of the British Psychoanalytical Society. I also received information from some of the Society's senior members.

There is now a significant literature on the subject of boundary violations.

Gabbard (2003), who has written extensively in this area, has consulted on, evaluated or treated over 150 cases of helping professionals, many of whom are analysts, after they have engaged in serious boundary violations with patients. Concern has been focused on the damage done to patients, on the pathology of their analysts and on the impact of the reputation of psychoanalysis among the general public. Rather less attention has been given to the reluctance and difficulty analytic institutes and societies have in investigating reports of violations and taking appropriate action, although researchers in this area have documented them (Gabbard and Peltz, 2001).

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