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Monzo, R. Pozzi-Monzo, M. (2013). Jones, S., & Bunston, W. (2012) The “Original Couple”: Enabling Mothers and Infants to Think about What Destroys as Well as Engenders Love, When There Has Been Intimate Partner Violence. Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 2(2): 215-232.. Cpl. Fam. Psychoanal., 3(1):87-93.
(2013). Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 3(1):87-93
Commentary on Previously Published Articles
Jones, S., & Bunston, W. (2012) The “Original Couple”: Enabling Mothers and Infants to Think about What Destroys as Well as Engenders Love, When There Has Been Intimate Partner Violence. Couple and Family Psychoanalysis, 2(2): 215-232.
Robert Monzo and Maria Pozzi-Monzo
Comments from Robert Monzo and Maria Pozzi-Monzo
This stimulating and thought provoking paper by Australians Sarah Jones and Wendy Bunston describes work in a time-limited therapeutic playgroup for mothers and infants who have been exposed to intimate partner violence. It highlights countertransference issues and dilemmas for the group therapists, offers an attachment approach to understanding violence in couples, and addresses the importance of holding all aspects of the parent's relationship history in mind, both positive and negative.
For example, if a mother idealises the absent, violent father the therapist may denigrate the father or highlight all that is bad in him out of fear that the mother may return with her child to a violent situation. Alternatively, the therapist may collude with the mother's defensive avoidance of the topic of her own and her child's experience of the father's violence. This can also interfere with the integration of good and bad.
From our points of view, as respectively a couple psychoanalytic psychotherapist and a parent-child psychotherapist, both grounded in object relations theory, while the paper emphasised the importance of the mother and child's integration of the good and bad aspects of the actualfather and of the real, external parental history, internal object relations took a back seat. This seemed to lessen the importance of notions such as parental projections into the infant, mutual projective defensive system, and unconscious couple fit (concepts that are part of an indispensible theoretical frame for the work of couple psychoanalytic psychotherapy), and of the fact that the mother has internalised an abuser/abused object relationship(Hinshelwood, 1991). As a consequence, the issue of the mother's violent projections into her child receives less attention than it is due, especially since the child lives with mother and has little contact with father.
Unconscious couple fit refers to the shared unconscious aspects of this internalised object relationship. It refers to a dominant, primitive, and unconscious belief in the nature of human bonding, relating, and linking.
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