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Lawrence, M.M. (1982). Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Among Poverty Populations and the Therapist's Use of the Self. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 10(2):241-255.

(1982). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 10(2):241-255

Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Among Poverty Populations and the Therapist's Use of the Self

Margaret Morgan Lawrence

This paper proposes a psychoanalytic psychotherapy among poverty populations based on a psychoanalytic developmental ego psychology. It varies from psychoanalysis on the couch or face to face. Intermeshing “acts” or “plays” with familial, intergenerational, and multicultural scenes are conducted among family members and therapists. Movement, expression of feeling, creative thinking, and temperamental or constitutional style undergird the action. The actors lend themselves to the action in the office, hospital ward, or therapeutic nursery; in the street, court of law, or home.

Consultants and consultees command mutual respect as professionals, each in his own right. Actors who meet in the play are human beings who share a time in history and have access to common symbols, myths, dreams, and hopes. Fraiberg's “ghosts in the nursery” (1975) are sometimes wretched. They may also be heroes. For both family members and clinicians these and other realities of psychodynamics, history and culture are permitted to take part in the action.

The actor-therapist is aware of the use of herself and the possibilities for identification with family members. She is aware of her temperamental style, and how the expression of feelings made real in her own life story can enhance her interpretations. The ego strengths of all actors must simultaneously be brought to light.

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