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Civitarese, G. (2005). Fire at the theatre: (Un)reality of/in the transference and interpretation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(5):1299-1316.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(5):1299-1316

Fire at the theatre: (Un)reality of/in the transference and interpretation

Giuseppe Civitarese

Only in Bion's extended idea of ‘waking dream thought’ is the oneiric paradigm of the cure (already an obvious Freudian principle) completely applicable. The author's basic hypothesis is that, by adopting this paradigm thoroughly, one can combine the radical antirealism which is expressed in the postulate by which all the patient's communications are transference-connected (here meaning ‘false connection’—i.e. as projection/displacement of elements of the patient's inner psychic world) with the ‘reality’ of the transference, that is to say with the conviction that the facts of the analysis are co-determined by the patient-analyst dyad and actually rooted in how they interact. The Freudian metaphor of the fire at the theatre is reintroduced here to suggest the crisis of the therapist's internal setting and capacity for reverie, which occurs when the irreducible ambiguity of the transference is resolved defensively, either in the patient's external reality or in his unconscious fantasy constellation. The author gives three clinical examples. The first shows some of the not necessarily negative effects of this temporary crisis. The other two vignettes show a way of listening to the traumatic events of the patient's life from a perspective (that of the ‘analytic field’) which is thought to be potentially the most transformative and vital to the analytical relationship.

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