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Ahumada, J.L. (2004). Musings on Neville Symington's clinical presentation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 85(2):262-264.

(2004). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 85(2):262-264

Musings on Neville Symington's clinical presentation

Jorge L. Ahumada

The term ‘musings’ implies that my ideas are meant as a sort of musical accompaniment. With no first-hand knowledge on the clinical process one accesses its description and compares it with the unfoldings in analyses one has assisted and thought about, based on direct experience. Thus my reflections are but ‘Variations on a theme by Neville Symington’. His patient Lawrence is a middle-aged man of Italian origin in the final stages of a successful analysis. The sessions presented precede and follow the long summer vacations, entering into what the analysand deems may be his last year of treatment.

The analysand's initial comments refer to his presently allowing responsibilities to be shared on the barrage of work coming to his company at year-end. The analyst points out that he is being able to trust more. The patient then explains that for the first time he can have some leisure instead of coming home all fraught and bad tempered, and turns to talking about his son doing notably better in his studies.

At this point the analyst reflects for the reader on a prominent chastising VOICE which castigated the analysand when he was alienated from others, shutting them out. Symington, wisely to my mind, had refrained from pointing out to the patient that for years, on leaving the session, he shut him out behind double doors, until finally the patient said that on shutting him in with both doors he shut him out of his own life. On the idea that the VOICE was associated with his being isolated and that it was softer the more connected he was, and on the further idea that he who experiences the torture of such VOICE also speaks in the role of that VOICE by being critical and irritable towards those around him, Symington concludes that the son had done better in his studies because Lawrence had not been so critical of him.

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