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Gray, S.H. (1990). Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LII, 1988: Masochism and Its Treatment. Robert D. Stolorow; George E. Atwood; Bernard Brandchaft. Pp. 504-509.. Psychoanal Q., 59:510.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LII, 1988: Masochism and Its Treatment. Robert D. Stolorow; George E. Atwood; Bernard Brandchaft. Pp. 504-509.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 59:510

Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LII, 1988: Masochism and Its Treatment. Robert D. Stolorow; George E. Atwood; Bernard Brandchaft. Pp. 504-509.

Sheila Hafter Gray

At a point in the course of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, a young psychotic woman became uncommunicative except for the repetitive statement, "Hit me." She responded to interpretations only with these words. The therapist encouraged her to write the reason for her request. She wrote, "Physical pain is better than spiritual death." This comment was accompanied by a facial expression that the therapist read as despair. After that, the patient never again asked to be hit. The authors understand the patient's request as a concrete symbolization of her need to experience the analyst's enlivening presence in her world. They suggest that the patient experienced interpretations as efforts to substitute the therapist's self for her own. This was repetitive of her early traumatic interactions with an unempatic parent. When the therapist advocated her making her own interpretation, she could affirm her own self. The aim of masochism, from this point of view, is not self-destruction but the restoration of one's being.

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Article Citation

Gray, S.H. (1990). Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic. LII, 1988. Psychoanal. Q., 59:510

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