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Hartke, R. (2005). The basic traumatic situation in the analytical relationship. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(2):267-290.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(2):267-290

The basic traumatic situation in the analytical relationship

Raul Hartke

The author attempts to develop a concept of psychic trauma which would comply with the nucleus of this Freudian notion, that is, an excess of excitations that cannot be processed by the mental apparatus, but which would also consider the functions and the crucial role of objects in the constitution of the psychism and in traumatic conditions, as well as taking into account the methodological positioning according to which the analytical relationship is the sole possible locus of observation, inference and intervention by the psychoanalyst. He considers as a basic or minimal traumatic psychoanalytical situation that in which a magnitude or quality of emotions exceeds the capacity for containment of the psychoanalytical pair, to the point of generating a period or area of dementalisation in the psyche of one or both of the participants, of requiring analytical work on the matter and promoting a significant positive or negative change in the relationship. Availing himself of Bion's theory about the alpha function and the metapsychological conceptions of Freud and Green concerning psychic representations, he presents two theoretical formulations relating to this traumatic situation, utilising them according to the ‘altered focus’ model proposed by Bion. He presents three clinical examples to illustrate the concept and the relevant theoretical formulations.

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