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Robbins, W.S. (1975). Termination: Problems and Techniques. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 23:166-176.

(1975). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 23:166-176

Termination: Problems and Techniques

William S. Robbins, M.D.

Sylvan Keiser in his introductory remarks described termination as a process characterized by unique dynamics which pose theoretical and technical problems requiring further study and understanding. Some psychoanalysts believe there are dynamics that are characteristic for the termination phase and that require an alteration in the classical psychoanalytic technique at termination. Keiser suggested that perhaps the major technical problems of the period rest with the analyst's ability to maintain his usual analytic posture when confronted by the special demands created by the introduction of the question of termination.

Keiser believed that termination and the terminal phase cannot be studied as isolated phenomena, but must be considered in relation to the personality types involved in the analytic process. While themes exist that are common to all analytic relationships, in termination the variations on these themes are numerous and are influenced by the idiosyncratic disposition of both participants.

Turning to the task of defining criteria for a successful termination, Keiser expressed his view that termination could be considered a naturally occurring analytic development in those circumstances where the patient's description of his real life was consonant with the observable psychoanalytic data. When the analytic process reveals that structural changes do not parallel the patient's report of his improved external life, or where the analytic observation indicates great structural change without a corresponding report of improvement in the patient's real life, it becomes extremely difficult for the analyst to decide whether termination is appropriate. Under such circumstances, the analyst is confronted with the need to decide if the patient's decision for termination reflects a mature judgement or is an expression of resistance.

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