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Künstlicher, R. (1996). The function of the frame: to protect the psychoanalytic room. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 19(2):150-164.

(1996). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 19(2):150-164

The function of the frame: to protect the psychoanalytic room

Rolf Künstlicher

The difficulty in differentiating the rules of treatment in psychoanalysis from the general “rules of play” that enclose and shelter the analytic process is discussed. The view is maintained that these “rules of play” constitute an absolute aspect of psychoanalysis. Their function is to create a frame, that protects the two participants on their vulnerable positions, enclosing a room where two persons mutually can listen to their thoughts and partake in feelings and the movements of the unconscious. Alien impingements revive traumatic experiences and break the frame. The traumatic or unthinkable is beyond the frame and is therefore enacted through repetition and acting-out. Through the break-down and restoration of the analytic frame, the possibility opens to incorporate into thoughts and feelings, that which has been rendered inaccessible. Clinical material illustrates the silent frame and the perverted frame.

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