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Ferro, A. Meregnani, A. (1997). Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993 (English Edition). Containment, Interpretation and Attacks on the Analytic Link: The Interactive Point of View. Maria Ponsi. Pp. 43-67.. Psychoanal Q., 66:152-153.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993 (English Edition). Containment, Interpretation and Attacks on the Analytic Link: The Interactive Point of View. Maria Ponsi. Pp. 43-67.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 66:152-153

Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993 (English Edition). Containment, Interpretation and Attacks on the Analytic Link: The Interactive Point of View. Maria Ponsi. Pp. 43-67.

Antonino Ferro and Anna Meregnani

The author deals with the problem of containment in situations of attack on the analytic link, paying most attention to two points: 1) the interaction between the two participants in the analytic encounter; 2) the relation between containment and interpretation.

Regarding the first point, in dealing with a relationship that is not working well—when the analyst is openly or subtly deprived of his or her specific function of interpreting but the two participants continue to interact despite impaired verbal communication—Ponsi chooses an approach emphasizing the interactive aspects of the analytic relationship. To this aim, she makes use of the distinction between content messages and relational messages, fundamental in the pragmatics of human communication of the Palo Alto school, and considers that, during the attack on the analytic link and the stalemate in interpretative activity, the

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communicative exchanges between the analytic couple are conveyed mainly by relational messages, to the detriment of the content messages.

Regarding the second point, the author finds it necessary to distinguish between support techniques and containment in the clinical situation. She then wonders if containment has to be considered an alternative to interpretation and concludes that containment does not exclude the possibility of making interpretations, nor does it imply a passive attitude of waiting. When the analyst practices containment, he or she continues to look for the best interpretation without necessarily expressing it. The outcome does not imply an abdication of interpretive activity but its curtailed presence. The analyst finds himself/herself containing within not only what the patient conveys, but also a great deal of what he/she thinks on that subject.

The author's conclusion is that the activity of containment can be defined as the regulation and modulation of the relationship. Quite different from interpretation, which uses discrete elements and whose object consists of specific contents of the mind, the modulation of the relationship concerns a vast number of aspects present simultaneously and articulated diachronically and which connote the global yet unique quality of every analytic couple's story.

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Article Citation

Ferro, A. and Meregnani, A. (1997). Rivista di Psicoanalisi. XXXIX, 1993 (English Edition).. Psychoanal. Q., 66:152-153

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