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Kernberg, O.F. (2003). The Management of Affect Storms in the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Borderline Patients. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(2):517-544.

(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(2):517-544

The Management of Affect Storms in the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Borderline Patients

Otto F. Kernberg

Affect storms are a frequent complication in the psychoanalytic approach to borderline patients. The descriptive, psychodynamic, and structural characteristics of these storms are explored, and the verbal, nonverbal, and countertransference manifestations that permit the formulation of interpretations under such conditions are described, as are the interventions required to maintain the treatment frame as a precondition for an analytic approach. The principal theoretical formulations regarding the affect pathology of borderline patients are reviewed and related to a proposed interpretive approach. An apparently opposite development, the utter absence of emotional developments in the sessions, is examined, and its defensive function of avoiding affect storms is explored. Clinical case material illustrates the proposed approach to these storms, and clinical evidence is given to support the approach, which centers on systematic analysis of the primitive internalized object relations of these patients in the transference, the use of counter-transference analysis without countertransference communication to the patient, and the repeated restoration of technical neutrality in the service of protecting the treatment frame.

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