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Ginzburg, A. (2010). Passion and Similarity: The Clinical Application of Matte Blanco's Ideas. Brit. J. Psychother., 26(3):335-342.

(2010). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 26(3):335-342

Passion and Similarity: The Clinical Application of Matte Blanco's Ideas

Alessandra Ginzburg

I will focus on Matte Blanco's hypothesis of emotion and the unconscious as being substantially the same. This concept allows us to apply the same instruments to understanding emotional reactions as we use with manifestations of the unconscious, such as dreams and symptoms. The tendency towards undifferentiation in the deepest strata of the mind is capable of mobilizing dramatic experiences of inappropriate amplification of the concept of identity. When a simple relation of similarity is translated into equivalence, a symmetrization arises and different people or situations on a basis of a single common characteristic are treated as if identical and interchangeable. In my clinical example, Franco had a panic attack with florid somatic symptoms on the same day he felt that Sara, a woman in whom he had become interested, was attracted to someone else. The intensity of feelings had grown exponentially from the moment the suspicion had arisen that he might have to ‘share her with another’. The infinite quality of his emotion suggested that his jealousy had constructed Sara as part of a broader class of women whom, for whatever reason, he felt to be indispensable to his survival. Only the understanding of this propositional function, through the decrease of the incandescence of emotions, allowed Sara, considered as a class, to be seen as an individual person.

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