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Goldberg, S. Grusky, Z. (2004). The Dark Side of Analytic Conviction: Impasses of Omniscience and Complacency. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 52(4):1095-1125.

(2004). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 52(4):1095-1125

The Dark Side of Analytic Conviction: Impasses of Omniscience and Complacency

Steven Goldberg and Zenobia Grusky

It is common for analysts to struggle with substantial periods of impasse, and with the associated subjective feelings of shame and failure, while analyzing patients who rely heavily on narcissistic defenses. Facing the feelings that accompany periods of impasse, while at the same time pushing oneself to take necessary creative risks, is a huge and painful task for the analyst if it is deeply confronted. These patients engage in false uses of the analytic process in which the pursuit of understanding is systematically undermined. In response, the analyst is susceptible to being drawn in to processes of mutual seduction, false conviction, and impasse. Through the analyst's partial living out of the patient's projective identifications (and eventually observing the patient's living out of the analyst's projective identifications), the analyst is able to gain a depth of understanding of the patient, of him- or herself, and of the interaction that might not otherwise be possible. Because analysts tend to employ theory defensively, it is essential that they attend, through self-analysis and consultation, to the ways in which they use it. Two cases are presented in which prolonged impasses were eventually understood and resolved.

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