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Peltz, M.L. (1992). The Wish to be Soothed as a Resistance. Psychoanal Q., 61:370-399.

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(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:370-399

The Wish to be Soothed as a Resistance

Morris L. Peltz, M.D. Author Information


As the analyst makes the correct interpretations of resistance in the opening phase of an analysis, the patient begins to feel understood, often for the first time. This feeling allays anxiety and depressive affects, and the patient comes to experience the analyst as a soother. These initial exchanges may lay the foundation for a positive transference which acts as a buffer against turbulent transferences. In some patients this positive transference develops rapidly, often with prompt symptom remission. In others—children as well as adults—the analyst must persistently interpret defensive regressions before a stable, positive transference can emerge. In either case, in order to avoid the analysis of conflict, some patients become resistant to the analysis of the wish to be soothed. Many of these patients have had a childhood filled with traumatic parental stimulation or rejection. Two clinical accounts illustrate these contentions.

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