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Bergmann, M.S. (1997). Termination: The Achilles Heel of Psychoanalytic Technique. Psychoanal. Psychol., 14(2):163-174.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 14(2):163-174

Termination: The Achilles Heel of Psychoanalytic Technique

Martin S. Bergmann, Ph.D.

The psychoanalytic literature dealing with termination is reviewed in support of the central idea of the author that psychoanalysis, and particularly the literature on technique, has so far failed to offer a paradigm for termination. As a result, psychoanalytic practitioners are left without guidelines as to how to bring the psychoanalytic process to an end. In the second part, the reasons and conditions that are responsible for the clinical fact that many analyses are not self-terminating are discussed. Two main reasons are given: Most wishes to terminate are reaction-formation against deeper dependency needs. In the course of a psychoanalysis, these are eliminated as resistance, allowing repressed dependency needs to surface. Genuine wishes for independence are difficult to foster. For many analysands, transference love is the best love relationship that life has offered. Understandably, they are reluctant to give it up. In other analyses, the psychoanalyst has inadvertedly entered into an equilibrium in the analysand's life. This too makes termination difficult. In real life, only death and hostility bring a libidinal relationship to an end. The kind of termination psychoanalysis demands is without precedent.

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