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Bronstein, A.A. (2020). The case of J: Working as a psychoanalyst during the Pandemic. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 101(4):797-804.

(2020). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 101(4):797-804

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

Abbot A. Bronstein, Ph.D.

At the end of Feb 2020, as the significance of the Covid 19 pandemic became more apparent, I, alongside many psychoanalysts, made a shift in the setting (Meltzer 1967) of psychoanalysis. What had been unimaginable just a few weeks before was our new reality. We were now confronted with not just “making the best of a bad job” (Bion, 1979) but attempting to do psychoanalysis within a crisis for both the patient and the psychoanalyst.

The practising of analysis when both analyst and patient are under a new external pressure might add unforeseen difficulties, unique to each crisis. In this case it required moving out of our in person meetings. We now faced using a medium that is 2 rather than 3 dimensional, yet still alive and interactive, but without the usual cues and with some very unusual additions.

As I attempt to discuss the case of J, I will be looking at the clinical notes, much as I would in any case: but I will be looking for the distinct appearance of the dynamics of the patient’s interactions within this newly altered setting. What is alive in the transference relationship is paramount to my way of thinking analytically. But here, would we find the transference relationship alive (Joseph, 1985) in such a way that the analyst might be able to usefully interpret the meaning within this new context?

In the case of J, we have an experienced analyst allowing us to have a glance at one session in person (before Covid 19) and two others after the shift to a remote manner of working, in this case, via phone sessions.

[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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