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Hall, J.M. (1985). 11 Idealizing Transference: Disruptions and Repairs. Progress in Self Psychology, 1:109-146.

(1985). Progress in Self Psychology, 1:109-146

Section IV. Clinical Papers

11 Idealizing Transference: Disruptions and Repairs

John M. Hall, M.D.


My overall strategy in this chapter is to give a brief history of Ms. A, then summarize certain phases of the analysis to set the stage for exploring a number of detailed vignettes, hour by hour, that will demonstrate the “disruptions and repairs of the idealizing transference.” I've chosen vignettes from the early, middle, and termination phases of analysis. Tracking these vignettes, these way stations, over the course of the analysis will, I believe, demonstrate the patient's increasing tolerance for disruptions in the transference as well as her growing capacity to explore such disruptions. Concomitant with this analytic growth, the gradual transmuting internalization of selfobject functions can be seen leading to structure building and, ultimately, to a successful termination phase of the analysis.

Overview of Analysis

Ms. A's analysis lasted about 2 years and 9 months and entailed 430 analytic hours. Despite the relative briefness of time, I believe the analysis was completed—at least in terms of what was essential for the patient. That is, I believe a pathognomonic regression was reached with this patient and to a large extent worked through. Specifically, an idealized selfobject transference emerged, and the major aspects in this childhood constellation entered into the analysis. To a lesser extent, transference reactions (mirroring) reflective of earlier stages of development as well as those involving multiple maternal caretakers including the patient's deeply disturbed paternal grandmother also emerged but, unlike the idealized selfobject transference, were not as consistently or systematically worked through. What follows is an elaboration of this brief summary statement.

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