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Rosnick, P. (2012). Impasse Revisited. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 93(3):755-756.

(2012). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 93(3):755-756

Impasse Revisited Related Papers

Phillida Rosnick

This panel considered the infrequently reported topic of psychoanalytic impasse. Specifically, how does one work with and work through an impasse that “deforms the psychoanalytic situation?” (O'Shaughnessy, 1992, p. 603) With Rosenfeld's (1987) Impasse and Interpretation in mind, Edna O'Shaughnessy presented a case in which an impasse developed in the seventh year of analysis. Her paper made an argument for facing and accepting the patient's psychic limitation which then facilitated the patient's resumption of a proper analysis, albeit with now more circumscribed goals. The panel raised important questions about the limits of interpretation and the limiting factors of the capacity of the analysand and the analyst.

In her introduction, Claudia Frank mentioned that, while the term impasse encompasses multiple phenomena, three are commonly recognized. The first is that described by Freud (1937) in Analysis terminable and interminable: “Analysis [is] the third of those ‘impossible’ professions in which one can be sure beforehand of achieving unsatisfying results” (p. 248). He described an array of factors and/or forces against which the analyst's therapeutic ambitions are pitted; the constitutional strength of the instincts, the relative weakness of the ego, developmental damage due to early trauma. The method of cure, to resurrect the illness so that reworking and reintegration may take place within the transference relationship, is fraught with uncertainty: “The crux of the matter is that the defensive mechanisms directed against former danger recur in the treatment as resistances against recovery.

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