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Keogh, T. Enfield, S. (2013). From Regression to Recovery: Tracking Developmental Anxieties in Couple Therapy. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 3(1):28-46.

(2013). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 3(1):28-46

From Regression to Recovery: Tracking Developmental Anxieties in Couple Therapy

Timothy Keogh and Sylvia Enfield

The psychological functioning of a couple, presenting with marital breakdown and infidelity, initially revealed a regression point involving primitive autistic-contiguous anxieties. Their progress in treatment was tracked using a model of developmental anxieties, designed for use with couples that also provided a container for the therapists. In accordance with this model, the focus in the initial stages of therapy was on the holding and containment aspects of the intervention. As treatment progressed the couple moved from this autistic-contiguous mode of experience into a more paranoid-schizoid one, where the interpretation of a prominent rejecting object and the repudiation of dependency needs were achievable. Later in the therapy, as the infidelity was worked through and the couple struggled with their depressive despair, they once again regressed to the paranoid-schizoid mode, blaming each other for the breakdown of the relationship. Ultimately, however, as the couple (and their daughter) achieved a greater level of separation and individuation, they were able to face their depressive anxieties and begin to work through oedipal issues. An increased capacity to mourn significant losses, which included their country of origin and family ties, facilitated their ability to develop a more interdependent relationship, allowing them to rise out of the ashes of marital infidelity.

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