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Celenza, A. (2005). Vis-à-vis the couch: Where is psychoanalysis?. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 86(6):1645-1659.

(2005). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 86(6):1645-1659

Vis-à-vis the couch: Where is psychoanalysis?

Andrea Celenza

The author discusses ways in which the couch or chair (lying down versus sitting up) may be used to maintain safety and defend against perceived dangers in the analytic process. Several dialectics are relevant as they intersect with that of danger and safety, including engagement/privacy, interiority/exteriority and subject/object. The author discusses these dialectics in terms of the ways in which the analyst is used at different points in time, i.e. as an objectified other, a subjective object or part-object, or as a subject with an internal world. The therapeutic action associated with sitting up (versus lying down on the couch) has been undertheorized, despite the fact that many, if not most, analysands sit up for some portion of their analysis. Through the use of a heuristic visual-spatial metaphor as represented by the use of the couch or chair, the author discusses the significance of lying down and sitting up for therapeutic action.

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