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Schaverien, J. (2011). Gifts, Talismans and Tokens in Analysis: Symbolic Enactments or Sinister Acts?. J. Anal. Psychol., 56(2):160-183.

(2011). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 56(2):160-183


Gifts, Talismans and Tokens in Analysis: Symbolic Enactments or Sinister Acts?

Joy Schaverien, Ph.D.

Analysis is nuanced with many non-verbal cues and interactions. This is vividly illustrated when gifts are presented to the analyst. Their physical presence transcends the symbolic frame of analysis because, although their meaning may be metaphorical, their presence is real. Unlike other material objects and pictures, the gift may seem to invite the analyst to receive it personally. It may apparently demand some form of action. A gift may be consciously given as a token, or it may be magically invested as a talisman. On the surface, it might appear to be an expression of love; it may be a communication of a wish for acceptance; but it may have more ‘sinister’, unconscious intent. It may embody the wish to expel unwanted affect, ward off evil or control the analyst. Therefore disposal, that is the resolution and settling of the object, is significant. The case with which this paper is illustrated traces the meaning of a series of gifts in a single analysis. It is hoped that this will enhance a wider understanding of this common analytic phenomenon.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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