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Miller, F.N. (1985). Hopelessness: A Narcissistic Resistance. Mod. Psychoanal., 10(1):65-79.

(1985). Modern Psychoanalysis, 10(1):65-79

Hopelessness: A Narcissistic Resistance

Faye N. Miller

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.

Four Quartets T. S. Eliot

Eliot expresses in poetry one of the goals of psychoanalysis. The resistances of the analysand are expressions about his life which he may or may not recognize as patterns which interfere with his mature functioning. With any resistance, the analysand is offering to the analyst a symbolic representation of his conflicts, which he cannot express directly in words and which often he may not understand or recognize. At the end of the exploring, or when the analysand is ready to resolve a resistance, he (this paper will use the masculine form to refer to both genders) can recognize what the conflict is, the purpose it serves, and where it began. In order to be maturational this recognition must be on an emotional level. This paper will explore one such resistance—the repetitive expression of hopelessness.

As we read the psychoanalytic literature, we are often struck by the use of the word “hopeless” to describe a case which is being presented. Frequently, too, in the presentation of process material, the analysand will refer to himself as “hopeless.”

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