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Harrison, A. (2014). Co-Creativity and Interactive Repair: Commentary on Berta Bornstein's “The Analysis of a Phobic Child”. Psychoanal. St. Child, 68:191-208.

(2014). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 68:191-208

Co-Creativity and Interactive Repair: Commentary on Berta Bornstein's “The Analysis of a Phobic Child” Related Papers

Alexandra Harrison, M.D.

My comments focus on a consideration of three issues central to child psychoanalysis stimulated by rereading the classic paper by Berta Bornstein, “The Analysis of a Phobic Child: Some Problems of Theory and Technique in Child Analysis”: (1) the importance of “co-creativity” and its use in analysis to repair disruptions in the mother-child relationship; (2) working analytically with the “inner world of the child”; and (3) the fundamental importance of multiple simultaneous meaning-making processes. I begin with a discussion of current thinking about the importance of interactive processes in developmental and therapeutic change and then lead to the concepts of “co-creativity” and interactive repair, elements that are missing in the “Frankie” paper. The co-creative process that I outline includes multiple contributions that Frankie and his caregivers brought to their relationships—his mother, his father, his nurse, and even his analyst. I then address the question of how child analysts can maintain a central focus on the inner world of the child while still taking into account the complex nature of co-creativity in the change process. Finally, I discuss insights into the multiple simultaneous meaning-making processes in the analytic relationship to effect therapeutic change, including what I call the “sandwich model,” an attempt to organize this complexity so that is more accessible to the practicing clinician.

In terms of the specific case of Frankie, my reading of the case suggests that failure to repair disruptions in the mother-child relationship from infancy through the time of the analytic treatment was central to Frankie's problems. My hypothesis is that, rather than the content of his analyst's interpretations, what was helpful to Frankie in the analysis was the series of attempts at interactive repair in the analytic process. Unfortunately, the case report does not offer data to test this hypothesis. Indeed, one concluding observation from my reading of this classic case is how useful it would be for the contemporary analyst to pay attention to the multifaceted co-creative process in order to explain and foster the therapeutic change that can occur in analysis.

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