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Grier, F. (2020). The case of J: Working as a psychoanalyst during the Pandemic. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(4):778-783.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(4):778-783

The case of J: Working as a psychoanalyst during the Pandemic

Francis Grier

Upon reading the introductory remarks by J’s analyst, I was immediately struck by how she foregrounded her patient’s experience of emotional confusion when he had felt his first analyst come too close to him, crossing a boundary. J’s anxiety feelings became so intense that he felt suicidal, and had to find another analyst, apparently at the behest of his first analyst. This experience threatened to repeat itself, with the second analysis only lasting nine months, J this time managing to extricate himself from an over-close analytic relationship. But soon afterwards he sought analysis again.

The present, third analyst would be bound to wonder whether she would suffer the same fate as her predecessors. It looks as though the patient is heavily involved in the claustro-agoraphobic dilemma described by Henri Rey (1994), or by Mervyn Glasser in his theory of the core complex (1979). How might the patient put pressure – subtly, or not so subtly – on the analyst, particularly a female analyst, to come close, too close, and then push her away? How might this shifting force-field manifest itself in the particular and peculiar circumstances of the covid-19 lockdown, and the move from person-to-person analysis to virtual contact?

Then we read that J is academically successful, competitive, a self-named “trust fund kid”, envious of others, and, though evidently successful, finding himself finally inferior. He feels that wealth could buoy up his sense of inadequacy, and also reckons that “having money will keep those on whom he depends from leaving him”.

[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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