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Govrin, A. (2011). “Forget the Palestinians, You are Our Mother”: Why Therapists Should Not Be Dead Right with Their Patients. Psychoanal. Perspect., 8(2):215-229.

(2011). Psychoanalytic Perspectives, 8(2):215-229

“Forget the Palestinians, You are Our Mother”: Why Therapists Should Not Be Dead Right with Their Patients

Aner Govrin, Ph.D.

The year is 2002. I am with a patient at the clinic in tel Aviv. All of a sudden, the boom of an explosion reverberates around the room, shattering its calm. The explosion is followed by another, even more powerful. The wailing of sirens fills the air. Muffled voices from outside are sufficiently distinct to let us know that this is a terrorist attack, and it's close. My thoughts race to my wife and son. I am terrified. Where are they? Are they trying to contact me? I am too tense and distracted to continue the session. Yet I manage to get a grip on myself and turn to the patient sitting opposite. He is a young man in his 20s, skeptical about the value of his therapy. He is a loner, rootless, a social outcast, estranged from his family. What am I to do? End the session? Apologize and tell him that I must get in touch with my family and find out if they are okay? No, I can't leave him at such a moment. He will feel that I am slipping off to attend to my own concerns, abandoning him.

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