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Canestri, J. Reppen, J. (2000). Development of Affect in Bilingual Patients. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 81(1):153-155.

(2000). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 81(1):153-155

Development of Affect in Bilingual Patients

Jorge Canestri and Joseph Reppen

The Moderator, Jorge Canestri, introduced the panel members to a receptive audience and highlighted the importance of the panel's topic. Irene Cairo Chiarandini introduced her paper, ‘Listen to my mother tongue: creating an affective truth through bilingualism’, by asking whether when a bilingual patient struggles to find the right word in English the translation in the mind of the patient is different from other translations from an emotional experience into words. Does transference create ways of getting around language limitations? How does a patient bridge the gap between a language that is foreign to the analyst? In the two cases she presented, transference allowed a new affective integration and truth to emerge, even though the analyst did not speak the patient's earlier language.

Miss B sought treatment as a 20-year—old college student because of concern about her stammering. Her two—year psychotherapy was interrupted by the patient's father because of her involvement with a non—Jewish man. Ten years later, after a marriage and the birth of a child, she returned for psychoanalysis. The patient spoke Hebrew in Israel, Italian in Italy from the age of 3, and English from the age of 5 in an English school in Italy. When the patient was 13, the family moved to the United States. Although her English was excellent, she often used an Italian word when she felt it was ‘right’. Italian became the idealised language of a lost country, a country in which an Italian family she saw at dinner in the apartment across the street warmed her emotionally.

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