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Vorhaus, P.G. (1977). The Developement of Optimism During Therapy. Psychoanal. Rev., 64(3):455-459.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Review, 64(3):455-459

The Developement of Optimism During Therapy

Pauline G. Vorhaus, ED.D.

A patient of mine nearing the end of long-term psychoanalytic therapy had just made what to him was a startling discovery. Speaking of his apparently now outgrown periods of marked depression, he commented, “I am suddenly aware that even when I was not in depression I was never really merry or lighthearted. There were no optimistic moments in my life.” As I listened, it occurred to me that this was true of many of my patients. It seems that perhaps one of the differences between the mentally healthy and the sick is the capacity of the healthy to feel lighthearted and optimistic. Must we then conclude that the background of the sick is heavier, more somber, and gloomy? Possibly, but the difference may lie more in an inner readiness to react to the dark not as impenetrable gloom, but as a time when, if you look, you can see stars. If patients in general have failed to develop this readiness, is not acquiring it an extra dividend that might develop from the transference relationship? I think so.

Two very different kinds of patient reaction are subsumed under the term transference relationship. The first relates to the patient experiencing the therapist as a reincarnation of the significant person (or people) of his past.

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