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Perelberg, R.J. (2003). Full and empty spaces in the analytic process. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 84(3):579-592.

(2003). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 84(3):579-592

Full and empty spaces in the analytic process

Rosine Jozef Perelberg

In this paper the author discusses two categories of patients which differ in terms of the impact they have in the countertransfererce. On the one hand, there are patients who create an empty space in the analyst's mind. The response they provoke is a kind of depressive feeling that remains after they leave. The patient may bring dreams and associations, but they do not reverberate in the analyst's mind. The experience is of dryness, a dearth of memory, which may—at times—leave the analyst with a sense of exclusion from the patient's internal world. At the other extreme, there are patients who fill the consulting room. They do that with their words, dreams and associations but also with their emotions and their actions. The experience is that the analyst is over-included in the patient's world. They have dreams that directly refer to the analyst and the analyst feels consistently involved in the patient's analysis. The pathway through which the analyst can understand both these types of patients is via the countertransference or, to put it another way, the analyst's passion. In ‘Analysis terminable and interminable’ Freud suggested that the bedrock of any analysis is the repudiation of femininity. The author believes this statement may be viewed as lying at the crossroads of the discussion about the limits of the theoretical and clinical psychoanalytic formulations which she refers to. In the examples presented the author relates the repudiation of femininity in its connections to the gaps implicit in psychoanalytic understanding.

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