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Bass, A. (2007). When the Frame Doesn's Fit the Picture. Psychoanal. Dial., 17(1):1-27.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 17(1):1-27

When the Frame Doesn's Fit the Picture

Anthony Bass, Ph.D.

I reconsider the function and construction of the psychoanalytic frame from an intersubjective, relational perspective. The analytic frame is meant to create and stand for, both practically and symbolically, a therapeutic structure with clear and safe boundaries in which the process of therapy unfolds. From my perspective, the establishment of the frame is, at the same time, an integral part of the process itself and reflects conscious and unconscious aspects of both patient and analyst. I explore this paradox and its implications for both practice and theory. In theorizing the functions of the frame, I draw on Goffman's frame theory, Bateson's anthropological and ethological studies, Ferenzci's perspective on the elasticity of technique, and a number of contemporary relational theorists. Several clinical vignettes are presented as illustrative of a new perspective on the analytic frame as cocreated and contextual, reflecting the variability of the psychoanalytic situation and the uniqueness of each dyad.

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