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Carpenter, D.S. (2021). The Terror of the Good: Working the Edge of Experience. J. Anal. Psychol., 66(1):112-131.

(2021). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 66(1):112-131

The Terror of the Good: Working the Edge of Experience

Dunbar S. Carpenter

This paper considers the topic of the ‘good’ within the literature and in clinical work. Milder forms of the good which arise on the personal level generate defences against personal vulnerability. More powerful forms of the good, which the author calls the ‘truly good’, arise on an archetypal level and overwhelm the ego, generating fear, even terror. The ‘truly good’ invokes defences against the dissolution of an intact sense of self. In both mild and intense forms, the good will arise in every analysis, will challenge boundaries of both client and analyst, and touch the core of the analytic relationship. It demands acknowledgement. Within these two categories, the author identifies five forms of the good that may arise in containable and uncontainable intensities: beauty, intimacy, becoming, love, and encounters with the divine. Exploring encounters with the good in its various forms expands the range of tolerable human experience - one of the fundamental goals of analysis. Living the good, or at times suffering the truly good, furthers individuation as it enlarges access to experiences of profound meaning, including the divine or the numinous.

[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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