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Hildebrand, H.P. (1986). Opening Gambits. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 9(2):107-122.

(1986). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 9(2):107-122

Opening Gambits

H. Peter Hildebrand, Ph.D.

In this paper, I shall talk about a man whom I shall call Mr. Chase and in particular about the problems that the early months of his analysis created for him and for me. One of my reasons for concentrating on the early months of this analysis is my response to Nina Coltart's fascinating paper Slouching to Bethlehem (Coltart, 1985) in which she says “I am sure that I am not saying anything heretical or unfamiliar to analysts, if I confess that I sometimes wish ardently, as I settle down for the opening sessions of what promises to be a long analysis, that the first year were already over. This is part of the paradoxical nature of our work. I would not for the world pass up that first year with all its subtle demands on the technique of getting the patient rooted in the analysis, feeling for the valuable transferences, learning history and doing first aid, which is so necessary when things have fallen apart and anarchy has been loosed on the world”.

I think that one should add to this list of analytic tasks something about the need of the analyst to try and construct a theory about the patient. It is for this reason that I have found the early months of the analysis that I wish to report so interesting - why I think that they are worthy of a report in their own right. Indeed, one can look upon the early months as being similar to a chess match, and liken the moves to the Ruy Lopez, the Queen's Pawn Refused or something of that ilk. One comes to learn in time many of the more common manoueuvres which patients bring with them when they come for therapy.

Nevertheless, I became converted some years ago to a notion that I first heard from some French colleagues. When I organised the Anglo-French Colloquia in the early 1970’s, I discovered that there were general identities of approach among the British analysts - whatever their doctrine - purebred Hamstead or the most puritan of Kleinians, as compared to the French when it came to their account of the first days and weeks of an analysis.

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