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Bovensiepen, G. (2002). Commentary on Michael Sebek's paper ‘Rebirth fantasy and the psychoanalytic process’. J. Anal. Psychol., 47(2):235-239.

(2002). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 47(2):235-239

Commentary on Michael Sebek's paper ‘Rebirth fantasy and the psychoanalytic process’

Gustav Bovensiepen, M.D.

Michael Sebek's valuable thoughts had an intellectually and psychically enriching effect on me - something, I believe, that the young woman in his case vignette also experienced after she had presented him with a rather complex archetypal dream at the outset of the analysis. This dream appeared to be not only an initial dream, but also a typical initiation dream (Dieckmann 1972, p. 26) in that it simultaneously seemed to represent the regressive bond of the libido in the patient's negative mother complex as well as to sketch a potential solution. Through the analyst's analytical phallus, which appeared in a kind of a soul guide or male leader, the patient could be freed from her prison of identifying with a part of the maternal object. It is justified, I believe, to refer to this dream as a ‘gift’, since with it, the patient gave her analyst the opportunity to witness, as something of a male midwife, the birth of a living part of her psyche. She thereby allowed the analyst to glimpse directly into her inner world for the first time, a world that was not completely dead. As Sebek writes, an ‘analytical pair’ could develop, and the analysis progressed. This is not self-vident because the patient seems to belong to the sort of patients who lives in a ‘psychic retreat’, as Steiner (1993) would put it. We are justified in calling it a retreat because progressive and hindering complexes - or, as our psychoanalytic colleagues would say, good and bad internal objects - seem to be organized in a pathological way and therefore dominate the ego, resulting in the withering of all emotional liveliness, the ability to relate to others, and even the possibility for further development. Here, the patient's retreat into a deadly standstill, into a grey and cold prison, into the claustrum, as Meltzer (1992) calls it, becomes normality, which only seems to guarantee psychic survival. Mere psychic survival is the price the ego has to pay in order to be protected against that psychic pain that a true relationship would inevitably cause. I would like to consider this case-vignette mainly from the point of view of transformation, since death and rebirth according to Jung (1940) are very frequent and are archetypal images of psychic transformation processes.

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