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Symington, N. (1996). The Patient Makes the Analyst. Psychoanal. Inq., 16(3):362-375.

(1996). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 16(3):362-375

The Patient Makes the Analyst

Neville Symington

I had finished my analysis. My two training cases had satisfied both my supervisors and the Education Committee of the British Society. So I was now qualified as a psychoanalyst. I had changed to an astonishing degree through the course of my analysis so I knew from personal experience that psychoanalysis is able to bring about profound psychological change. However, even when such an analysis does alter the inner emotional structure and intentional direction, it requires an agent from outside to summon that inner change into the outer forum. The patient I am about to describe was such an agent.

She came to see me after a frightening experience in which she saw herself merged with her mother and strangling her boyfriend. She had had some counselling in the provinces and then been assessed at a well-known clinic. She was then referred to the London Clinic for Psycho-Analysis, turned down there, and returned to the first clinic. Finally, she was referred to me when I was working at a little known clinic. She was angry at being shunted from pillar to post and disappointed not to have been taken on at the first clinic. Now, seeing me for an assessment, she felt this was the last resort. She was desperate, found me a bit severe, but felt she could work with me. We started just after the New Year, and between then and Easter, the treatment went along harmoniously. I thought naively that things would continue in such a vein. After that first break, the nature of the interaction between us changed dramatically.

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