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Whyte, N. (2004). Overview and Discussion. Psychoanal. Psychother., 18(1):125-138.

(2004). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, 18(1):125-138

Overview and Discussion

Nollaig Whyte

This issue presents the results of the work of a study group that was convened to examine the impact of the therapist's pregnancy on the treatment of borderline patients. We view pregnancy as a prototypical event that encompasses some of the most important facts of life: the primal scene from which the child is excluded, displacement by the birth of a sibling, gender and generational differences. Occasionally when there are difficulties with the pregnancy, it can put us in touch with our own mortality too. Thus this study of the impact of the therapist's pregnancy can enable us to observe both ourselves and our patient's reactions as we each attempt to negotiate some of these fundamental experiences. At the outset, we were interested in exploring what Money-Kyrle (1968) described as the ‘emotional impediments’ that interfere with our discovery of the basic facts of life.

It is generally accepted that pregnancy is a complex psychophysiological event and we have learned from our experience that the pregnant woman is in an altered state of body and mind. Her own identity is in considerable flux and her equilibrium is altered. Thus to a significant extent, the pregnant therapist's realities impinge themselves on the treatment setting. Several questions arise for consideration.

(1)  In what way and to what extent does the therapist's pregnancy impinge on the treatment of her patients?

(2)  What consequences do these have for the patient and for the therapist?

(3)  What additional support might the patient and the therapist need at this point, in order to provide the optimal setting in which each of the participants may have the opportunity to develop?

It is noteworthy that each of the therapists who have contributed to this issue were in full analysis themselves during the whole period under discussion. It is interesting to consider the influence of this factor on their experience at this time.

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