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Carvalho, R. (2008). The Final Challenge: Ageing, Dying, Individuation. J. Anal. Psychol., 53(1):1-18.

(2008). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 53(1):1-18

Articles: Clinical Theory and Practice

The Final Challenge: Ageing, Dying, Individuation

Richard Carvalho, MBBS

This paper is about the psychotherapy of a woman who passed from what Waddell (1998) would term ‘older age’ to ‘later life’, by which latter I mean the inevitable decline into dying and death. However unwelcome these developments may be to the individual, they are none the less activities of the soma, and therefore activities of the self—deintegrates. Much of the work of the psychotherapy centred around the task of enabling the patient to relate to and accept the bodily and emotional correlates of this process, which she tended to want to disown and deny by means of a split between mind and body along the lines of a long-standing internal depressive relationship. Permitting her contact with herself allowed her a much greater sense of internal company and peace, and arguably facilitated an easier process of dying, involving a self reconciled with itself rather than one at odds. Technically, the approach involved a greater concentration on the intrapsychic relationship rather than on the relationship between patient and analyst, and this is briefly discussed in terms of the work of Armando Ferrari who had himself died, shortly before the paper was first presented, and to whom therefore it is in part a homage.

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