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Knapp, P.H. (1991). Emotion And The Psychoanalytic Encounter. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39S(Supplement):239-263.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39S(Supplement):239-263

Emotion And The Psychoanalytic Encounter

Peter H. Knapp, M.D.

Three overlapping aspects of emotion are important in the clinical psychoanalytic encounter: (1) Expressive-Communicative features comprise a transactional network of lexical, acoustic, kinesic, and visceral signals passing between the two participants. Some of the analyst's "freely hovering attention," ideally, includes empathic perception tuned to the stream of emotional information. Part of the force of the analytic approach derives from restricting feedback to patients, so that they generate their own. (2) Regulatory aspects of emotion are provided early in life by outer and later by internalized cues. Smooth regulation is a goal, dysregulation is a target, of psychoanalysis. In crises, psychopharmacologic intervention may be necessary. However, the most effective regulatory influences are the stabilizing analytic holding environment and the caring empathy of the analyst, mainly articulated in words. (3) Motivational aspects of emotion stem from their ingrained coupling with cognitive componens in unconscious fantasies, especially self representations or schemas; these require multileveled integrative empathic grasp by the analyst, in a kind of trial identification. Such schemas organize and are organized by primitive emotions. They are influenced by psychoanalytic work, which combines cognitive learning with early modes of internalization and with slow patterns of extinction and reinforcement. These all coalesce in the symbolic activity of insight, which is part result, and part cause of emotional growth.

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