This essay investigates the difference between emotions and affects, in order to facilitate analyst-patient communication in moments or periods of communicative impasse. The author's suggestion is that in the absence of sufficient ability to communicate between analyst and patient, certain emotional states produce "personification" phenomena which, if opportunely recognized, can serve as proto-communicative links. By the term "personification," the author means the phenomena by which one of the two members of the couple unifies and takes upon himself or herself the projective identifications circulating in the emotional field. While affective cathexes (Besetzungen) establish and define whether the bond is positive or negative, emotional states seem to precede or accompany what takes place within the bond itself, favoring or impeding its growth, evolution, and change. When there is extreme turbulence in the emotional field, no objectrepresentation is possible, and the analyst unconsciously impersonates important split parts of the patient; at such times the evaluation of the transference and countertransference can also be misleading.
The failure to perceive an emotional involvement (as distinct from a countertransference affect) distorts the awareness of how personal affects contribute to the
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common emotional field. In such cases, interpretation can have a boomerang effect. This happens not so much because the interpretation is wrong, but because it is atopical, extraneous to the layer of emotional reality present in the here and now. When analytic interpretation uses linguistic action to substitute for the underlying emotional field, its syntactic coherence provides a seemingly affective or instinctual cover for embryonic emotional elements that can still only be personified. If there is no awareness of these events, the emotional field becomes obstructed, preventing the analyst's mind from receiving the patient's projective identifications.
Gaburri concludes by stating that three levels of communicative transformation are possible in an analysis: from nonverbal to nonverbal, from nonverbal to verbal, and from verbal to verbal. What he has attempted to investigate in this essay belongs to the first level; the author has been much influenced by the ideas of Bion.