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Firestein, S.K. (1982). Termination of Psychoanalysis: Theoretical, Clinical, and Pedagogic Considerations. Psychoanal. Inq., 2(3):473-497.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 2(3):473-497

Termination of Psychoanalysis: Theoretical, Clinical, and Pedagogic Considerations

Stephen K. Firestein, M.D.

Termination is that phase of analysis in which we seek to determine what this complex enterprise has meant in the life of the patient, and when and how to conclude the collaboration. It is a portion of our work that raises many questions and may well leave us with lingering doubts concerning our judgments. To clarify some of these issues, I intend to look at some of the theoretical conceptualizations about termination with which we work, how this theory is translated into clinical practice in the conduct of an analytic termination, and what the implications are for current teaching about termination of analysis.

Theoretical Considerations

When we begin to search the analytic literature for early statements about termination, we do not have to look very far. In Studies on Hysteria, Breuer and Freud (1893-1895) offer a number of statements of interest both for historical reasons—how long ago they were made—and because of clear links to current attitudes. The case of Anna O.,

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