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Limentani, A. (1977). Affects and the Psychoanalytic Situation. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 58:171-182.

(1977). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 58:171-182

Affects and the Psychoanalytic Situation

Adam Limentani


In announcing the main topic for the Jerusalem Congress, the Programme Committee noted that the problem concerning affects seemed appropriate as a focus for the discussions, since no two theories agree on it. The truth of this statement is affirmed by the most casual reappraisal of the literature as stated in a number of outstanding contributions such as those of Brierley (1951), Rapaport (1953), Rangell (1967) and Green (1973). Green's Le Discours Vivant, a very comprehensive work on the subject, has not attracted sufficient attention because it has appeared only in French. Papers written in more recent years have continued to highlight the discrepancy of approach to the problem in various parts of the world, due not entirely to parochialism on the part of some writers, but rather because of the disparities between theory, technique and clinical practice. The major areas of theoretical research are: (1) the drive discharge theory, (2) the debate on the existence of unconscious affects, (3) the relationship to their mental representations and fantasies, (4) the issue concerning the possibility of affects dissociated from the object, (5) the ego as the only seat of anxiety, (6) the problem of narcissistic and schizoid personality disturbances, and (7) the widespread calls for adjustments and modifications of the classical method in the treatment of borderline and narcissistic states, which has generated further complications in the matching of theory with practice. Although the task of reviewing the literature has been undertaken by André Green (this issue) the subject of the affects in the analytic situation remains vast.

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