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Balint, M. (1952). On Love and Hate. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:355-362.

(1952). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 33:355-362

On Love and Hate

Michael Balint


If one has to ask the reader to re-examine some old, very familiar concepts, it is advisable to quote as an illustration a quite simple example. So I wish to begin with one which is an almost commonplace event in psycho-analytic practice. A patient of mine, a woman in her middle forties, recently bought a house, the first settled home in her much unsettled life. Of course, it was a great event; the house had to be altered, furnished and made just as she wanted it to be. I will not dwell on its obvious significance as a symbol of herself and behind that, of her mother. Anyhow it was a great thrill. Then she heard that a couple intended to visit her and to stay in the new house for about a fortnight. They were old, well-proved friends, and she was delighted that they were coming. They arrived, the house got ready just in time, and it was a great happiness. She could not repeat often enough how nice it was to have people one really loved as the first guests in a new house.

To our great surprise, within a few days, gradually, almost imperceptibly, feelings of irritation, tension, and uneasiness arose in her. The irritation increased till it amounted to a fairly severe anxiety state which, however, could be kept under control, though only with some difficulty. Gradually she became impatient: for heaven's sake, if only the people would leave! At this point some analysis became possible and we discovered behind the impatience and anxiety a bitter hatred against her 'friends'.

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