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Casement, P. (2017). Ways of Working: A Synopsis of Contributions to Psychoanalytic Technique. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 98(6):1813-1816.

(2017). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 98(6):1813-1816

Letter to the Editor

Ways of Working: A Synopsis of Contributions to Psychoanalytic Technique

Patrick Casement

Dear Editors,

Encouraged by Fairbairn's (1963) synopsis of his theoretical position (Int J Psychoanal 44:224-5), I am similarly offering this summary of my main contributions to psychoanalytic technique.

Internal supervision: ways of self-monitoring our own part in the immediate process of a session.

Trial identification with the patient in the session, to take into account the patient's history and sensitivities. This can help us to reconsider what we are about to say, or to consider the subsequent impact of our contributions to a session.

The otherness of the other. We can only learn about another person from that person. We cannot meaningfully apply understanding on the basis of theory or of earlier experience. NB: Similarity is not the same as ‘sameness’. Similarity is often misleading as the other will never match our assumptions, and we should always be wary of regarding any assumed ‘universal truth’ as applying to all individuals.

We need always to be aware of Professor Karl Popper's caution, as in:

‘If we are uncritical we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmations, and we shall look away from and not see whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories’.

The value of non-certainty which helps to maintain an open mind at all times.

NB: In Sanskrit, ‘certainty’ = ‘imprisonment’ and ‘non-certainty’ = ‘freedom’.

Pre-conception and being too sure can always dull our sensitivity to the individual patient and the ‘moment of now’. It is always alien to genuine analysis.

Communication in behaviour. There is so much that is communicated through behaviour. Examples can be noted in all areas of life and in the consulting room.

Communication by impact: as through inducing in the other some state of mind that needs to be recognized and truly engaged with. Also, in drawing the analyst into becoming some version of the complained of relationship. And much else.

Unconscious hope. Difficult behaviour is frequently indicating a search for something necessary that has been missing, as for adequate boundaries and/or containment. Or seeking someone really able to engage with confrontation ‘without collapse or retaliation’ [see Winnicott (1969) in Playing and Reality]. Or in seeking emotional holding that has been absent. Also seen in unconscious prompts by the patient.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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