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Steiner, J. (2011). The Numbing Feeling of Reality. Psychoanal Q., 80(1):73-89.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 80(1):73-89

The Numbing Feeling of Reality

John Steiner

The author elaborates on Bion's (1961) description of “the numbing feeling of reality,” to which the analyst may become susceptible in certain clinical situations; that is, the analyst may become preoccupied with the patient's reality and, under pressure of his morality, can become numbed to an awareness of the psychic reality of the transference. In particular, this involves a propensity by both patient and analyst to deny the reality of loss through deployment of omnipotent fantasy. When this is recognized by the analyst, he can adopt more limited and realistic goals, and omnipotence may gradually be relinquished and mourned. Illustrative clinical material is provided.

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