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Bleger, J. (1967). Psycho-Analysis of the Psycho-Analytic Frame. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 48:511-519.

(1967). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 48:511-519

Psycho-Analysis of the Psycho-Analytic Frame

José Bleger

SUMMARY

I propose to call the psycho-analytic situation the sum total of phenomena involved in the therapeutic relationship between the analyst and the patient. This situation includes phenomena which make up a process and which is studied, analysed and interpreted; but it also includes a frame, that is to say "a non-process" in the sense that it represents the constants, within whose limits the process occurs. The relationship between them is studied and the frame is explained as the set of constants within whose limits the process takes place (variables). The basic aim is to study, not the breaking of the frame, but its psycho-analytic meaning when "ideally normal" conditions are maintained.

Thus, the frame is studied as an institution within whose limits phenomena occur which are called "behaviours". In this sense, the frame is "dumb" but not non-existent. It makes up the non-ego of the patient, according to which the ego shapes itself. This non-ego is the "ghost world" of the patient, that lies in the frame and represents a "meta-behaviour".

The role of the frame is illustrated with some clinical examples which reveal the placement in the frame of the patient's most primitive "family institution". It is thus the perfect repetition compulsion, which brings up the primitive undifferentiation of the first stages of the organization of personality. The frame as an institution is the receiver of the psychotic part of the personality, i.e. of the undifferentiated and non-solved part of the primitive symbiotic links. The psycho-analytic meaning of the frame defined in this way is then examined, as well as the relevance of these considerations for clinical work and technique.

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