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Ringstrom, P.A. (2003). “Crunches,” “(K)nots,” and Double Binds—When What Isn't Happening Is the Most Important Thing: Commentary on Paper by Barbara Pizer. Psychoanal. Dial., 13(2):193-205.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 13(2):193-205

“Crunches,” “(K)nots,” and Double Binds—When What Isn't Happening Is the Most Important Thing: Commentary on Paper by Barbara Pizer Related Papers

Philip A. Ringstrom, Ph.D., Psy.D.

This discussion compares Pizer's concept of “relational (k)nots” with “crunches” and double bind impasses. It argues that all of these constructs capture what happens when conventional analytic method—the exploration, elucidation, and interpretation of transference—fails to work. In this context a “last-ditch effort” emerges, a necessary crisis of treatment. The situation is a plea that something must occur “now or never” or the “charade of therapy is over.” This plea is extraordinarily challenging since it embodies contradictory elements wherein the patient's very call for involvement with the analyst is embedded in a process that obfuscates their connection. Notably this sets the stage for the “damned if one ‘gets it’ and damned if one doesn't” experience that is a part of the paradox of recognition/mis-recognition that befuddles many analyses.

Extrication from such impasses requires the analyst's recognition that she is colluding in a kind of avoidance or distraction from recognizing their disconnection. Her second act involves meta-communication about their process. That is how their “relational knot” both binds them together while negating their connection. While this observation may be necessary it is recognized as insufficient on its own. Thus her third move out of the impasse requires her to enter into a state of improvisation. That is, to use some part of herself that must surrender from the one-up one-down impasse position of “either your version of

reality or mine.” Instead, she must cultivate through her action a third way in which both she and her patient can think about their impasse and do something about it, including something different from what either one might have imagined before.

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