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Balsamo, M. (2011). Sabina. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 92(6):1347-1354.

(2011). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 92(6):1347-1354

The Analyst at Work

Sabina Related Papers Language Translation

Maurizio Balsamo

Sabina, a 36 year-old woman, an employee in a big company, arrives late, as so often happens with her. She lies down and, as usual, she says: “I have nothing to say, nothing comes to mind, I feel empty”. She then stays silent for a long time. In reality, I also feel empty and do not know what to say. It is as though, after a relentless search for something that might function as a libidinal cathexis or as a beginning of meaning, I too feel inclined to disinvest from the analytic situation. I notice within myself that I struggle to keep awake, to avoid anger and distancing myself. While I am experiencing a mixture of sleepiness, powerlessness and absence, the mother of the patient comes to mind. A mother who used to demand that she not be disturbed by her daughters, as she wanted to be alone with her books, oblivious even of the daily meal. A mother, in a word, fundamentally absent, or else ‘present’ and sitting amongst them but severely depressed. (The patient often reminisces that the table would be set only once the father was back and that in his absence the house was kept dark, with death anxieties pervading the family. She remembers the terror lest the mother never returns). Thus two different ways of being absent or, if you wish, two ways of being unsatisfying. Which one to choose? Which one seems less traumatic: the absent gaze of the mother hidden behind her textbooks (she was a teacher) or the gaze of the depressed mother who, in her immobility, promises to her daughter a contact which is actually impossible? The analyst oscillates between the autoerotic representation of the pleasure of reading, which evokes in him a sense of futility, and the representation of an identification with the emptiness from which he tries, somehow, to protect himself; the latter makes him shift between depression and rage even though he is aware of the communicative value of this emptiness, even though he knows that sometimes it is necessary to live through something which has not been possible to represent otherwise.

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