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Golland, J.H. (1997). Not an Endgame: Terminations in Psychoanalysis. Psychoanal. Psychol., 14(2):259-270.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 14(2):259-270

Not an Endgame: Terminations in Psychoanalysis

Jeffrey H. Golland, Ph.D.

For much of the history of psychoanalysis, the matter of termination received little attention. Freud's famous chess metaphor, offered in the paper devoted to the technique of beginning the treatment (1913), designated termination the endgame, which could be subject to “an exhaustive systematic presentation” (p 123). Freud did not take up that presentation, either at that time or later in his more philosophical paper specific to the subject (Freud, 1937). Ferenczi (1927) paid some attention to termination, bequeathing the notion that analyses would die from exhaustion. Annie Reich was astonished that these were the only two papers on the topic until her own (1950/1973), although seven other papers appear concurrent with hers in the International Journal. Glover's 1955 revision of his text was the first to define a termination phase per se, and Firestein's (1978) book was the first presentation of a series of extensive clinical examples to elucidate the process. Since then, the literature on termination has become quite extensive.

From the time of the endgame metaphor until recently, the relative absence of study paradoxically may have led to a sense that termination might, indeed, follow the metaphor. A few definable principles and variations would be available, as was seemingly true of analytic beginnings. Terminations would evolve, naturally, from properly conducted analyses; the phase would proceed from a mutually agreed-upon date and would include regression, reactivation of symptom complexes and a mourning process; the technique would be a continuation of transference and resistance analysis, especially regarding reactions to the fact of impending termination, with the only essential difference being the analyst's agreement to the actual date of ending.


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