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Mahon, E. (2000). A “Good Hour” in Child Analysis and Adult Analysis. Psychoanal. St. Child, 55:124-142.

(2000). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 55:124-142

The Good Hour in Child Analysis

A “Good Hour” in Child Analysis and Adult Analysis

Eugene Mahon, M.D.

An attempt is made to compare and contrast a “good hour” in child and adult psychoanalysis. Since all analytic hours reflect the conflicted vicissitudes of an associative process, what function can it serve to isolate certain specific hours as “good”? While analytic process always reflects the simultaneous impulse to reveal and to conceal, it is argued that at times the mind “surprises” itself with its own daring and savors the epiphany before the forces of defense make off with it again. A child's surprising formulation of the nature of transference and therapeutic alliance is compared to an adult's more mature grasp and use of the same concept. Analysis and creativity are compared as activities that nourish and foster surprise elements, creating new stabilities out of their tolerance for instability and destabilization. Childhood is emphasized as the crucible par excellence where surprises are not only engendered but integrated. Child analysis may be more accustomed to surprises and perhaps can contribute to adult analytic experience by way of this unusual expertise.

The elements of surprise in certain analytic hours are discussed in terms of their developmental psychoanalytic components. Hours can be termed “good” as long as the implication that more defensive hours are “bad” is resisted with the psychoanalytic conviction that the mind reflects the human condition and that therefore nothing human is alien to it. As Shakespeare put it, there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so!

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