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Cooper, S. (2009). Familiar and Unfamiliar Forms of Interaction in the Ending Phases of Analysis. Psychoanal. Dial., 19(5):588-603.

(2009). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 19(5):588-603

Familiar and Unfamiliar Forms of Interaction in the Ending Phases of Analysis

Steven Cooper, Ph.D.


In analyses that have been going concerns, initial discussions of termination often stimulate shifts in the patient's perspectives regarding the therapeutic work and the relationship between patient and analyst. The illusory, more open ended canvass for expanding curiosity engendered by the analysis will soon be temporally framed, even if patient and analyst know that this ending can always be renegotiated at a later date. The patient's growth during analysis may also move from foreground to background as the patient's and analyst's limitations in promoting growth may move from background to foreground. In this paper, I am most interested in how the process of ending analytic work provides a context for exploring previously unworked through and unexplored parts of interaction and experience.

Many analyses, including those that are highly productive, end at points in which the patient and analyst have run out of emotional and imaginative resources to take analysis to a further level of understanding. As Ferenczi (1912, p. 79) put it, “The proper ending of an analysis is when neither the physician nor the patient puts an end to it, but when it dies of exhaustion.” Some patients have been able to do enough productive work to place them in good stead in life, while others return to us or someone else for more analysis at a later date. For still another group of analytic dyads, the decision itself to terminate seems to facilitate renewed levels of work and commitment to resolve forms of impasse.

[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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