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Green, A. (1975). The Analyst, Symbolization and Absence in the Analytic Setting (On Changes in Analytic Practice and Analytic Experience)—In Memory of D. W. Winnicott. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 56:1-22.

(1975). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 56:1-22

The Analyst, Symbolization and Absence in the Analytic Setting (On Changes in Analytic Practice and Analytic Experience)—In Memory of D. W. Winnicott

André Green


This paper has been guided by a personal theme while taking into account the psychoanalytic contributions of others.

1. The emphasis placed on the changes within the analyst was designed to show that, as well as changes within the patient, one must also consider the double created by the changes within the analyst, due to his capacity for constructing, by complementarity, in his mental functioning, a figure homologous to that of the patient.

2. The problems of indications for analysis has been approached from the point of view of the gap between the analyst's understanding and the patient's material, and from that of the evaluation of the mobilizing effect of the analyst's communication on the patient's mental functioning, i.e. on the possibility—which varies with each case and with each analyst—of forming an analytic object (a symbol) by the meeting of the two parties.

3. The description of the implicit model of a borderline state by putting splitting (a condition for the formation of a double) and decathexis (as a striving towards the zero state) in the dominant position shows us that borderline states raise the question of the limits of analysability in the dilemma between delusion and death.

4. The attention given to the analytic setting and to mental functioning attempted to structure the conditions necessary for the formation of the analytic object through symbolization, by taking into account the intervention of the third element, which is the setting, in the dual relationship.

5. The place of primary narcissism gives us a point of view which complements the preceding one. In other words, alongside the doubles of communication of object relations is an encapsulated personal space which is a narcissistic domain, positively cathected in the silent self of being, or negatively cathected in the aspiration towards non-being. The dimension of absence, essential to psychic development, finds its place in the potential space between the self and the object.

This paper does not claim to solve the crisis facing psychoanalysis, but only to raise some of the contradictions inherent in a theoretical pluralism and a heterogeneous practice. We have, above all, attempted to formulate an image of psychoanalysis which reflects personal experience and gives it a conceptual form.

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