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Bacelle, L. (1991). Samuels, A. (London). ‘Dimensioni simboliche dell'eros nella relazione transferale-controtransferale: impieghi clinici della metafora alchemica di Jung’ (Symbolic dimensions of Eros in transference and countertransference: some clinical uses of Jung's alchemical metaphor). Analysis, 1, 2: 115-134. 1990.. J. Anal. Psychol., 36(3):398.

(1991). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 36(3):398

Samuels, A. (London). Dimensioni simboliche dell'eros nella relazione transferale-controtransferale: impieghi clinici della metafora alchemica di Jung (Symbolic dimensions of Eros in transference and countertransference: some clinical uses of Jung's alchemical metaphor). Analysis, 1, 2: 115-134. 1990.

Review by:
Lorenzo Bacelle

In this article from the second issue of a new Italian journal, Andrew Samuels examines Jung's interest in alchemy, especially in the Rosarium Philosophorum, and associates it with Corbin's Mundus Imaginalis and Winnicott's ‘area of illusion’. Alchemical imageries can then be viewed as symbolic representations of both intra-psychic and interpersonal processes. In analysis, they can be used as a metaphor standing both for events within an individuating psyche and for transference-coun-tertransference phenomena, joined together like the two sides of a coin.

The experience of the self in the process of relating to ‘another’ was anticipated by alchemy and continued by psychoanalysis. Eros in its various forms is a feature of every analysis and psychological change in a patient requires an erotic involvement on the part of the analyst, real but not acted out. Regression, with the impulse to incest and the taboo of incest, needs to be experienced as a stage in psychological growth.

As in human development, a healthy experience of eros between parents and children is necessary for the formation of a healthy personality, so in analysis we need to regard the presence of eros as a sign of health and its absence as a sign of psychopathology.

The analyst draws information about his patient from his own body used as an organ of perception. Although it is the analyst's real body in question, it is also an imaginal body or a ‘subtle body’, in a transitional area between analyst and patient. The analyst's countertransference-body inhabits the Mundus Imaginalis.

In the last part of his paper, Samuels discusses two episodes from the analysis of one of his patients. In the first episode, taking place in the first year of the analysis, there is a partial sexual acting-out, brought about by the analyst's denial of his sexual feelings towards his patient, which precludes a symbolic approach to those feelings and to a contact with the patient's internal world. In the second episode, in the fourth year of analysis, the analyst appears much more aware of his body sensations, his feelings, and his fantasies which, confidently located by him in the Mundus Imaginalis, become shared with the patient in an erotic bond and bring into consciousness otherwise inaccessible parts of the patient's unconscious.

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