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Vasilyeva, N. (2001). Individuation as the Adaptive Response to Mental Pain. Brit. J. Psychother., 17(3):395-399.

(2001). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 17(3):395-399

Psychotherapy in Russia

Individuation as the Adaptive Response to Mental Pain

Nina Vasilyeva

This paper tries to show that Joseph Sandler's concept of individuation is applicable to the current situation in Russia on the level of the individual, the family and society. Examples are given to illustrate this thesis.

Life in harsh conditions such as those in Russia today may create an illusion that it is the environment which is to be blamed for the unhappy state of being. This is the most common reaction among Russian people to the present situation where people live through hard times. This brings the examination of different individual reactions to the painful situations into focus.

No doubt crisis situations may exist as external sources of pain in their own right. On the other hand, it is obvious that some individuals can deal with the painful state that arises only by reapplying past solutions, while others may be able to adapt to the new situation. This statement contributes to common analytic experience that crisis demands are significant to the extent to which they are involved in the individual's inner conflicts. What may appear as an external crisis may be predominantly an internal one.

To gain an understanding of this process we may use the psychoanalytic model formulated by Joseph Sandler (Sandler 1989). He considered individuation to be the most adaptive response, from the point of view of the ego. Individuation is a process that involves ‘working through’ in a manner analogous to mourning. It involves the adaptive abandoning of lost ideal states and their replacement by new ideals that are both ego and reality syntonic.

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