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Carnevali, C. Vandi, G. (2016). The changes in the analytic room: primary emotions dreamt together. IJP Open, 3:76.

(2016). IJP Open, 3:76

The changes in the analytic room: primary emotions dreamt together

Cinzia Carnevali and Gabriella Vandi

Through two case studies of patients who had a block in the more archaic areas of the mind, we tried to show the importance of how the analyst puts her person at the patients’ disposal in order to help them to live emotions that they are not able to experience or understand. In these cases it is necessary that they are lived by the analyst first, in order to be eventually transformed into nameable representations. The analyst’s personality, in its complexity and ability to endure narcissistic frustrations, is an important tool in the formation of relational areas where non verbaliseable affective and sensorial experiences which evoke thoughts are found. The analyst offers himself as a living person, able to resound together, sharing the “organs” as for Siamese twins (Grotstein 2010) and an area in which move the communicative elements of both. In Luca’s and Marco’s cases, the need to defend from a pain which cannot be contained drove the patients to massively project their split aspects onto the analyst, causing pain and intolerance in her mind. Unable to “dream their emotional experience” nor to work on their psyche, the patients activated in the analysts a mental state very similar to those they were trying to discard in themselves, that is violent emotions, fragmentation and death anguishes. The analysts had to endure counter-transference (Carpy D.V., 1989) and to accept the unconscious use that the patient needs to make, accepting and integrating also the action which can give body and libidic-emotional quality to representations and thoughts. This implies the need to adapt to the demand of an impelling urge in the attempt to meet an object never experimented before. Interpretation becomes an interpretation in action (Ogden, 1999), in which the analyst uses his insight of what happens in transference/counter-transference to offer an action to the patient, rather than symbolic verbalization. As in theatre, actions and unconscious repetitive behavior (actions of the patient and the analyst in session) give expression to conflicts, emotions, memories remembered in session and make possible the emergence of new, irrepresentable elements. The analyst’s sharing presence, which is respectful but also playful (ability to role-play, to play, to dream) produces something new, starting a holding process and “an initial and rudimentary experience of the self”, “of coming into being” (Winnicott 1956), something happening between the two that was not decided in advance (a bosom or maternal embrace, never or only partially experienced). Through the analytic interpretation carried out to get to a meaning built together, we can see how transformations of the internal world are produced, and how from the internal world a new relationship with a real external object, “mutational object” (Bollas 1987) becomes possible.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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