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Reed, G.S. (2015). Visions of Interpretation: Ferro’s Bicycle and Arlow’s Home Movie Screen. Psychoanal. Inq., 35(5):465-477.

(2015). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 35(5):465-477

Visions of Interpretation: Ferro’s Bicycle and Arlow’s Home Movie Screen

Gail S. Reed, Ph.D.

Antonino Ferro has developed a clinical technique, particularly applicable to nonneurotic patients, that focuses on very flexible and modulated aspects of interpretation. So different are these aspects from what most analysts have been taught that Ferro rarely refers to them as interpretations without qualification. Ferro’s creative and original ideas about interpretation owe a certain amount to the ideas of André Green—Green’s work having provided a background influence for Ferro, as it did for many continental analysts attempting to treat borderline patients in the last third of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first. They do not, in contrast, appear to be influenced by developments in North America. Nevertheless, I also juxtapose to Ferro’s work the work of Jacob Arlow (1969a, b, 1979, 1987), whose brilliant clinical formulations, more occupied with the treatment of neurotic illness, cast an interesting light on Ferro’s ideas.

Ferro’s ideas about interpretation are built upon his unusual creativity, a theoretical integration of Wilfred Bion’s (1962a, b) psychoanalytic contributions, D. W. Winnicott’s Squiggle game (1971), the Barangers’ (Baranger and Baranger, 1983) ideas about the field, various structuralists’ theories on narratology (e.g., Eco, 1962), and his own experience as a child analyst. What moved him to integrate these disparate theoretical-clinical ideas and to fashion an original technique supported by them was largely work with those patients with less developed structure, that is, those patients with difficulty in affect regulation, a weak ability to represent, hence to form narratives, or to express their inner selves in language.

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