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Novick, J. (1988). The Timing of Termination. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 15:307-318.

(1988). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 15:307-318

The Timing of Termination

Jack Novick


Many analyses end prematurely or too late. Premature terminations can reflect the revival of adolescent patterns of leaving and emerge in treatment as a regression from a differentiated to an 'externalizing transference'. Such a move often precedes, and may be mistaken for, a timely termination and sometimes only the counter-reaction of the analyst can distinguish the two. Using clinical material an attempt is made to contrast premature and timely terminations. One of the countertransference hindrances to a timely termination is seen in the confusion between the goals of treatment and the criteria for starting a termination phase. In the case presented, the termination phase did not start with the resolution of conflicts or the transference neurosis but with an optimal level of a working alliance which in itself stemmed from a sustained oedipal transference. In response to the loss of the analyst and the end of analysis the patient could internalize the working alliance and establish a self-analytic function.

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