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Gilhooley, D. (1995). The Analyst as an Imprisoning Cell. Mod. Psychoanal., 20(2):263-269.

(1995). Modern Psychoanalysis, 20(2):263-269

The Analyst as an Imprisoning Cell

Dan Gilhooley, M.A.

The author chronicles three stages of a relationship between himself, an analyst-in-training, and a chronic schizophrenic seen for one year in a day-treatment center. In the initial phase, the analyst struggles to accept the psychotic feelings aroused in him by the patient. Both pretend that the patient is neurotic. A second phase develops as the patient withdraws into silence and becomes increasingly hostile. Through mutual feelings of aggression, boundaries are reestablished. A third phase emerges when the patient asks the analyst for things. This gives both patient and analyst feelings of being needed, in marked contrast to the rage which had characterized the relationship. The author casts the relationship through the lens of the patient's persistent fantasy of being imprisoned, suggesting that the fantasy serves as the metaphor that defines the relationship. What the patient needed from the analyst was a secure emotional medium into which he could release his toxic and disabling feelings of worthlessness, isolation, and rage.

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